It’s been a crazy few weeks here as school wrapped up, the internet went down (why no, a merger of AT&T and Time Warner does not cheer my heart), and I’ve been trying to get a few big projects knocked out. But fear not, the internet has not been entirely deprived of my presence! For your reading pleasure:
Patheos blogger Leticia Adams and her colleague Gabe Jacobs talk with me about what it’s like when a loved one commits suicide, what things help the surviving friends and family, and what The Red Door Foundation is all about:
What do you think has made the difference in your decision not to give in to despair, but instead commit yourself to helping others who have lost loved ones to suicide?
Gabe: What made the difference for me was realizing that I had control. My only two options were taking control of my loss or my loss taking control of me. So The Red Door, to me, is the choice to take control of the situation and help others continue their lives with this new and strange burden.
What are the things you really, really, want people to know about surviving the suicide of someone you love?
Leticia: There’s a lot to that question but I guess the main thing is for them to know that how their loved one died doesn’t define who they were or the life they lived. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and therapy and talking to my family has been the best way to heal for me. I miss Anthony every single day the same, if not more, as I did the day he died, but now I am able to see past that pain and use it to try to help others, and that really is because of my amazing therapist and my kids.
Anthony is not how he died. He is so much more than that, and his suicide doesn’t get to steal all of the great and also annoying things about him. He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t just someone who died by suicide.
When I got a review copy of Fr. Rob Galea’s book Breakthrough in the mail, I thought, hmmn, okay maybe. Looks a little hip for me, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy. (He is!) But the overall story sounded good, and even if I didn’t have time to read the book, I thought a quick interview could be good. But then I couldn’t do the interview well without knowing what was in the book. Man am I glad I read that one. Super story of Fr. Rob’s conversion and how ministry changed him. This guy understands evangelization and discipleship:
What have you found helps you keep yourself focused on the need to love and minister to the individual person in front of you at home?
Well I would say it’s my on-going relationship with God. Knowing that I need to be loved and that I need to be continuously encouraged. Also it’s finding people around me to support and to pray with me, and also people who are enthusiastic about the Gospel. I try to reach out to people – it is discouraging on a day-to-day basis, but at the end of the day, people are thirsty. And whether they encourage you or not, they need Jesus.My motivation, my biggest motivation, is my own relationship with Jesus and desire to serve Him.
Do you know who else understands evangelization? St. Anthony of Padua, whose feast is today. They called him the “hammer of the heretics” but he wasn’t out to crush anyone . . . just out to proclaim the Gospel.
But I did some hard thinking (rather than go inside and check the date, hmmn) and remembered that yesterday was the 12th, I think, so that made today most likely the 13th. I flip to June 13th and who should the saint be but . . . St. Anthony of Padua. My guy.
But interestingly, my edition of the Daily Roman Missal doesn’t talk about St. Anthony finding your parking space for you. What it talks about is this: Here’s a saint who was a phenomenal evangelist. He preached from the Scriptures so thoroughly, with such a reliance on the Gospels, that he got called the “Evangelical Doctor.”
Whoa. St. Anthony I barely knew you.
And this thing happened in my life that means I won’t be forgetting all that again.
I don’t like to talk about parenting “success,” because our children are not problems to be solved but persons to be loved. But it turns out that there are some things you can do to help your kids become the people they were created to be, and that the things are not complicated or difficult:
There will come a time when they are older and they’ll have to take on a certain number of big projects that they don’t particularly care to do. At 16 & 18, a realistic expectation is that your kids will go big and deep on the things that are most important to them.
But that’s a good start. If they learn in their teens that they can take an interest in something, master all the skills, and be turning out professional-grade work as a result? I think that’s about where they need to be.
So parents, if you are terrified of the mess your kids are going to make, or you are tempted to over-program and over-schedule their lives, or you worry that your kids aren’t “well-rounded” because they tend to focus mostly on one or two types of interests and not ALL THE THINGS, relax.
Set a few boundaries, sure. But mostly: Just let your kids do things.