I’d like to introduce you to my friend John.
I went to university with John. We had the same major and I shared a class or two with him. He was also a fellow music-minded person and was in my choir for several years. He was a “small chat” kind of friend and our conversations never much got past the weather, classes and events around us.
He was quiet, studious, easy-going.
We graduated the same year and went our separate ways.
He moved to Ohio. I returned to Australia.
I found him on Twitter about 10 years ago and followed him. I started having conversations with him about the usual–weather, old school days, current events.
He would recommend me websites, sermons, books–I think he thought I was a lost soul his mission was to convert. Sometimes he did so gently; other times he was not dissimilar to a street preacher with fire and fury.
Come to find out he had married but was now divorced. He had been working for a Christian publishing company but lost his job. I joked with him when his suburb, Euclid, hit the news in Australia as the global financial downturn hit the area hard. His house wasn’t worth a fraction of what he still owed on it.
He had applied for several jobs–I remember one at Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter which he was particularly hoping he would be offered, but wasn’t. I’m not sure if he ever was successful in regaining solid employment.
His politics were far right. He stood for everything I didn’t. His remarks to those who believed contrary to him were caustic. He was highly intelligent, but quite narrowly-focused in his thinking.
We parted ways around 6 years ago when he unfriended me on Facebook and lost interest in Twitter. This happened after a particularly bitter tirade about politics and how, in his opinion, nobody who called themselves a Christian could vote for a Muslim, foreign-born president, especially for one who killed babies.
That was the kind of person he was.
Today I was looking through my Facebook account and saw that we had both liked Bryan Duncan (former lead of the Sweet Comfort Band and a chart-topping CCM artist of the 80s). Just for old times’ sake, I clicked on his profile pic and scrolled down his newsfeed.
And then I stopped in disbelief at a comment made on his latest Cruz2016/NeverTrump-branded profile pic:
“RIP my friend.”
Obviously, others had the same bewilderment as I.
“What are you talking about?” was one response.
“John committed suicide.”
Oh man! Really?
Evidently, life became too much for my friend. I don’t know the circumstances he faced nor the pressures that he felt every day. I have no idea how he dealt with his past and how he reconciled is ultra-Calvinism with the apparent out-of-control world around him.
I really didn’t know him that well.
I don’t know if, given a reboot, I would have taken the chance to understand him more. We were poles apart.
But he was a good man and a beloved child of God. It is obviously that he touched many lives and will be missed by the same. His family grieve as all those in loss grieve.
Regardless of what drove my friend to take his own life in what should have been his prime years is beyond me. God knows.
He is at rest now. This tortured soul as found peace. Whatever his politics, religion or societal status, he has been embraced by everlasting Love.
Rest in peace.
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For those who struggle with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, there is help.
Lifeline (Australia) 13 11 14
Beyond Blue (Australia) 1300 659 467
Suicide Prevention Line (USA) 1-800-784-2433