Every 18 minutes in America, someone commits suicide. Someone makes the choice to end their life, the life that God gave them every 18 minutes. In the time it takes you to wake up and get ready for the day, someone has died. In the time it takes you to drive to work or school, someone else has died. In one day, 85 people, boys and girls, men and women of all ages, all races, all religions, all walks of life, commits suicide. It’s become a sad epidemic that is only notably mentioned when it’s a celebrity or a rare instance when it makes the news. People make the promise to be better, to not be mean to others, to not judge others but no one sticks to that promise. Society says every life is valuable but the only lives society seems to value are the famous, the pretty, the rich, the popular.
It’s sad when a 17 year old girl kills herself because her parents don’t approve of her choices. It’s sad when a 15 year old boy decides to end his life because it’s better than dealing with the kids at school who call him a faggot. It’s sad when a veteran kills themselves after surviving a war but they can’t survive the war in their mind because they don’t have proper help. It’s sad how we, as a society, don’t see the value of someone’s life until they’re gone. We constantly say, “Oh it would’ve gotten better. They should have fought harder, they should have tried harder. They should have told someone. Don’t they know they were loved? Suicide is selfish. What about all the people who will miss them?”
You know what is selfish? Making people feel like the only option they have to escape their daily torment is ending their lives. And do they know they were loved? I don’t know. How many times have you stopped to tell someone that God loves them and that you love them? How many times have you stopped and sat with someone and just listened to them? How many times have you told someone that they’re worthy? How many times have you told someone that, while I know it doesn’t seem like it right now, it will get better and you have to hold on that hope and faith that it will get better? How many times have we told someone that we are always there for them whenever they need us, no matter the time or day? Unfortunately, not often enough. We are too caught up in our lives, our own struggles and joys, to even pay attention to those who may be hurting around us.
We say we’ll be better, that we’ll watch our words and this only lasts until the media circus around the most recent suicide dies down and then we’re back to our old ways until the next one. We have to end the cycle and it starts with us. We live in a world full of judgement. We call that girl wearing a bikini a ho but the girl who doesn’t want to show her body a prude. You take pictures with a guy and you’re a slut but you take pictures with one of your girlfriends and you’re a lesbian. The girl who raises her hand in class to answer all the questions does so because the only way she will get to college is to do well in school yet you call her a teacher’s pet. The boy who always falls asleep in fourth period you call him lazy but he was up till midnight working to keep his family off the streets. The boy who dresses well you call him gay but the boy who wears whatever he can find at the thrift store because that’s all his family can afford is trashy. We make fun of the tall girl, the short girl. The girl who is skinny no matter what she eats and the girl who can’t lose weight no matter how much she diets. We make fun of those guys who are “too muscular” but lifting is what makes them feel good and we tease the guys who can’t get muscle because heaven forbid we date a guy who doesn’t have a six-pack. We make fun of those who are smart for being “nerdy’ and those who are athletic are just being “dumb jocks whose glory days will end the day they graduate high school.” Those kids who have braces and glasses and acne we call ugly yet they can’t choose how they look. We ridicule people for things they have no control over. We make fun of those girls who put tons of selfies on Instagram because 100 likes is the only way she feels validated. We let our self-worth become defined by followers and likes and anyone who has “less” than us aren’t as cool as us. We body shame and slut shame and shame people for their families and backgrounds and choices and yet we wonder why we live in a world where it seems like no one loves themselves.
WE BLAME SOCIETY YET WE ARE SOCIETY AND THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE SOCIETY IS TO CHANGE OURSELVES. It is up to US to end this cycle. Every day we have a choice. We have the choice to go out and put something positive in the world or something negative. We have the choice to be nice or be mean, to judge someone or accept them, even though you don’t agree with their personal choices. We have the choice to hate someone or love them. We have the choice to let people know how much we appreciate them and how much we really do care about them. We have the choice to just listen to someone talk because sometimes that is what people really need. Someone to listen and then hug them when they’re done. The world needs more love, more positivity, more acceptance, more God. Can you imagine what it would be like if God told people, “I’m not gonna love you. I’m not gonna love because you don’t wear designer clothes. You’re too smart, too athletic, too skinny, too fat. You aren’t modest enough and you are too prudish. You don’t have a large enough social media following and you’ve made some pretty terrible choices. You’re gay, you’re straight and I’m just deciding that you’re not going to get my love for no other reason than these.”
Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? Every single time we make those mean comments to someone, that is exactly what we are telling them. We are telling them that their personal choices and some things that they can’t even control are the basis for whether or not they get our love. Mark 12:31 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself, there is no greater commandment than these.” We don’t want people making fun of us right? We don’t want people judging us off our looks and circumstances which we can’t control right? So why are we continuously doing the things we wouldn’t want done to us to others? We need to love everyone just like we love ourselves and it is because Jesus loves us that we can love others and ourselves.
We must be the change we wish to see in the world. Sure we can talk and talk and talk about how much we want to change the world but we need to ACT. We need to be the kind of people this world needs and it’s up to us to show everyone what love is really like. You don’t have to agree with every single thing a person does, we don’t need to compromise convictions to be compassionate. What we need is to unconditionally love everyone like God loves us. Compliment someone genuinely. Let someone know that they aren’t alone. Sit with someone and listen to what they have to say. Be compassionate. Be loving. Be kind. Always. You never know what kind of battles someone is fighting.
You are worthy. You are loved. You are fierce. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are enough just as you are. You don’t need to change a thing. God made you the way you are for a reason. Never forget that. God loves you and I love you.