I’m always trying to make things with the kids. Today, we made homemade pretzels – inspired by a friend’s post a few days ago. They turned out yummy and we got to have a little science lesson about how the crust on a pretzel turns brown. (We didn’t quite get ours as brown as “normal” but they turned out tasty and browner than bread.)
We were all twisting dough into shapes and having a blast with it, competing to see who could make the most pretzel-y looking pretzel, when my sweet 6-year-old tapped me on the arm.
“Mom, look, look what I made. It’s one of those…” She blanked.
“Like a Chiari ribbon?” I tried to fill in.
“No, for hanging yourself,” Sadness in her expression, she pointed at it.
I was frozen in the thickness in the air, staring at her ribbon-pretzel, and I swallowed hard.
Her sweet big brother chimed in, “Yeah, suicide awareness!” and smiled big at her, so she could smile too.
“If we had the right colors, we could paint it. Purple and teal, right Momma?”
I nodded, “We sure could baby girl.”
She let me know she wasn’t going to cook it that way, because she wanted to make an ‘R’ and she went back to the work before her.
And I begged God to keep my legs beneath me and my tears at bay as I worked with the dough in my hands. You see, we have these conversations so often in our home, about suicide, and suicide awareness. We have to, as we nearly lost one of our kids to suicide. I am typically the one that starts them – which means I pick the time and the setting and I get to pep talk myself into the moment. This one caught me off guard. She shouldn’t have to know about this just yet. Sure, sure, in a few years. But she is 6 years old.
But we do know. We all know and we can’t erase or ignore what we know, what we’ve seen, what we’ve walked through. Thank God we haven’t walked through it alone. Thank God we’ve always had a hand to hold, His faithful peace and presence, and friends to love on us.
I often have to remind myself of the hard things I’ve been through in the past, and how those very hard things have shaped who I am, and how those things become part of my personal statement about who I am becoming. Sometimes the hard things require some undoing and unlearning and new learning to reach for who I am becoming. But sometimes they are just part of the story.
Looking back on hard moments in my life, I see how short-lived most of them were. I also see how faithful God is to use our deepest pain for His greatest glory. It’s not always easy, and it’s not usually the way I would have chosen, but His ways are higher than mine, and I surrender to His purposes and plans.
She shouldn’t have to know. But she does. And since she does, I’m going to teach to her look for God in the hardest moments, and to wait expectantly for the good things He will do in and through a hard situation. Not just her, of course. But each of the precious children God picked for me.
Tomorrow, I’ll pull her into my lap and hold her close. I’ll talk to her about the ribbon she made and what it means to her. I’ll apologize for my quiet response and held back tears. I’ll tell her how those moments can sneak up on a Mommy and we don’t always know what to do with them. And we’ll talk about how much we love each other, and how much Jesus loves us. And we’ll talk about her brother and how much we love him, and how much Jesus loves him. And she’ll put me on the spot with some really hard questions, that she asks a lot, often. Some of them I can answer. Some of them, I cannot answer.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or just not feeling safe, you can call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone who is willing to help you through.
Until Next Time,