[Note: This flashback while my finger heals and keeps me from typing very much is not from several years ago; it’s from this past February. I hope everyone reads it because I wrote it for all of us; but today I hope the precious mama of the precious boy in here reads this and knows how absolutely beloved she is. This is for you, my friend. Godspeed.]
February 2, 2014
Four words crossed a sign, one of those electronic billboards that changes wording every few seconds. I glanced up and saw the words, “Need a second opinion?”
We raced past it on the highway before seeing what it was advertising, surely some sort of medical clinic.
When that billboard caught my eye, though, my first thought was not about anything medical. It was about a ninth-grade boy whose life ended far too soon.
It was about how much we need a second opinion when our thought life spins out of control, when the fears and doubts threaten to take over, when the self-flogging becomes as close to our soul as breathing.
Last week, on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday night, a 14-year-old boy in our wider circle of acquaintances ended his life. Just like that. In a matter of seconds, in that one action, he stopped his own breathing and at the same time took the breath out of everyone who loved him: his parents, his siblings, his grandparents, his neighbors, his classmates, his friends, his teachers, his pastors. Their lives will never be the same.
Sometimes there are warning signs as bright as runway lights, but not this time. Certainly from the outside looking in, his life looked privileged and stable and love-filled.
What happened? We will never know. It’s not that we may never know; it’s that we weren’t there in that room that night, and so we can say with certainty that we will never know.
But we can know one thing for certain, and it all ties back to that electronic bulletin board: in that moment, what this young man needed was a second opinion.
In that moment, that young ninth-grade boy – the very one who’d been in church all his life, who’d known of God’s love for him, whose parents had prayed for him and provided for him, laughed with him and loved him – heard more of the first opinion that came into his soul, the opinion of the father of lies, than he did of the second opinion, the One who created him.
And tragically, he is far from being the only one whose life has ever been derailed by the darkness of the greatest deceiver the world has ever known.
We learn of tragedies such as this and wonder what we should learn from them, how we can and could and should protect our children, our spouses, our families, our friends, ourselves.
The answer lies in the opinions we allow to be cemented as fact. Not just once, not just now and then, but every moment of every day. We must learn and we must teach those we love which opinion should hold weight and be allowed to take up residence within.
When darkness comes and speaks lies –
You are worthless.
You will never amount to anything.
You are a failure.
You are a disappointment.
You are dumb.
You are insignificant.
Your life doesn’t matter.
You are the wrong kind of different.
Just end everything and the world will be better off.
You don’t matter to anyone –
go for a second opinion.
And not just any second opinion but the only second opinion that matters. In truth, it’s the only opinion that matters, the only one that we should welcome and allow into the deepest parts of ourselves. It’s the one that says:
You are a royal priesthood.
You are Mine.
I knew you before the creation of the world.
I formed you in your mother’s womb.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are My beloved child.
How rich is your inheritance in Me.
I sent My only Son to die for you, that you might have life and live in Me and have a relationship with your Heavenly Father.
I chose you.
And I will choose you evermore, precious child of Mine.
Let His voice take residence within. Let His opinion be the one to which we cling. Let His truth shine through the darkness and flood us with His light. He is, after all, our only hope.
And let us pray that He will now pour His opinion of their worth into the hearts of those hurting the most in the wake of this young boy’s tragic end … because once again, His is the only opinion that matters.