Don't Blame Yourself

Didn't I begin this "Top Ten" like a month ago? Sorry. 
(This is the #1 "Don't" on my list...drumroll please)

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do). 

The words we heard more than any other following my Dad's suicide were, "He was on my mind the week he died. I should have called him." I nodded, put my hand on hundreds of shoulders, hugged them and reassured the person standing in front of me that his death wasn't their fault. 

It wasn't. 

Their phone call wouldn't have made much difference to my Dad. He had made up his mind. It was done. 

But that phone call, the one his friend didn't make, made a difference to that friend when they were attending the funeral of the person they didn't call when they knew they were supposed to call. 

Dad had been on my mind the week he killed himself. I felt a tug inside my heart to call him the day he went missing. I thought of him many times throughout that day. I even remember thinking, "Why is he on heart this heavily today? What is he up to?"  

But I still didn't call him. 

We guilt ourselves into believing that our phone call would have been the turning point in the other person's life. Is that prideful? Hopeful? I don't know. I do know that I let it go very early on in my grief recovery. Guilt was the place I knew that I wouldn't emerge from if I let myself dwell there for very long. I never looked at any of Dad's friends and thought, "Yes, it was your phone call that would have made my Dad stop drinking, go to rehab and turn his life around. It's your fault he's dead." That's ridiculous. I realized that if it was ridiculous for any of them, it was ridiculous for me also. So I forgave myself for not calling him. 

But here's my life lesson: when something inside of you says to call someone or send them a text or drop a card in the mail, then DO IT. (Yes, I just suggested snail mail on the internet machine! I feel like the hipster police might arrest me any minute and take away my MacBook Pro.)

Listen to the voice inside your heart and head. Obey that voice. Take the time to let the person know you're thinking of them. You don't have to fix them. That's not your job. Your job is to obey God's voice inside of you. Offer another person life, hope and love. Offer them Jesus with skin. I know it sounds so corny and seventh grade church camp fire with Reverend TimTom strumming his guitar while singing "Lead your friends to Him. Win them with your grin. Be a good friend. Be Jesus with skin." (Yes I just wrote that beautiful chorus. I'm available for weddings as well as seventh grade church camp fires.) 

But I actually mean it. Be Jesus with skin because what is Jesus so great at doing during prayer? Listening and interceding. Be that to someone. Listen to them. And then intercede for them. Pray with them. Pray for them. Your phone call may not change anything, but your prayer could move heaven and earth. 

Obey God's leading. Always obey. Blessing follows obedience. Regret follows disobedience. Don't live in regret anymore. Live in obedience to our life giving God. Because after the funeral the person you have to live with is yourself. Be a person you can live with.

And when you want to start playing the blame game with yourself don't. Just don't. You won't win. Pray and ask God to release you from that guilt. Ask God to help you to obey the next time He prompts you with His leading.  You can't live in the regret of the past if you want to be of use to Him today and, believe me friend, He's got SO much for you to do today! 

So let it go into His hands and as always:

Keep Going!

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Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.