Thursday, May 23, 2013

Inspirational or Heartbreaking?

I fear this post may be severely unpopular, but I hope it will not be misunderstood. It is never my intent to step on toes or stir up controversy. I loathe confrontation, and I'm not smart enough to engage in debate, so none of those things are ever my goal. This is merely a reaction to something that I can't get out of my head. I was talking to Jared about this yesterday, and he suggested I write about it. Problem is, I'm not nearly the writer he is, but I thought I would at least try. . .  Here goes nothin'. . .

So there is this video circulating through the interwebs via Facebook, Twitter, and all sorts of other social media venues celebrating a young man who recently died of cancer. The focus seems to be on how inspirational he was, what a "wonderful person" he was, etc. Now here is where I beg of you not to misunderstand me. FOR SURE this was a special young man. To the extent that any fallen human being living in a fallen world can be beautiful and special and wonderful and amazing, he certainly was if anything in that video is true (and I have no reason whatsoever to believe it isn't). His family seems to be equally as special and heartwarming in the way they love and care for each other. I have nothing negative to say about this young man or his family. Nothing at all. They appear to be extraordinary and precious human beings.

But here is what is haunting me. . .

Toward the end of the video, the young man has this to say:

"Death is just another thing on the agenda, kind of. Yeah, it's scary. But the only reason it's scary is because you don't know what's next or if there is a next."

When I heard this, my heart sank. I got a knot in my stomach that comes back every time those words echo through my mind again. 

And again. 

And again. 

Maybe he knew Christ and just didn't know quite how to express it or didn't feel the freedom to express it. Maybe he found Christ after he made the above statement. Maybe it was just bad editing. I don't know. I hope with all of my heart he's with Jesus now. Truly. I want him to have known what's next. I want his family to know what's next. I find it heartbreaking to imagine anyone coming to the end of their life and not being certain of what lies ahead. This is the greatest argument against living as though "being happy" is the most important thing in life. If all of his happiness ended the day he died, it just wasn't enough. The thought of this makes me shudder and frankly, makes me nauseous if I consider it for too long. "Nice" and "happy" are perfectly good things, but they are pitifully temporary. The only way to be sure of what's next is Jesus. He is so much better than nice and happy, and he's forever.

***I deliberately avoided posting a link to the video. It is not my desire in any way to disrespect this family or attach any appearance of anything negative to this young man's memory. Just trying to process how to respond to this story. Inspired by the way he loved people? Absolutely. But even moreso heartbroken if his "next" wasn't Jesus.

7 comments:

Becky said...

Well said. It is heartbreaking.

I have thoughts along the same lines when Christians fight so hard to get "character training" into public schools. Obviously, I'm not against people having character and making good choices, but I'd way rather have them be saved by Jesus than merely make good choices. That's why we are so involved in our daughter's class, so we can be Light and not just nice or good people. Hope that makes sense :)

Renee said...

It's funny you would blog about this because I just saw the first 16 minutes of the video last night. Though I didn't finish the video because I was interrupted. When I told my hubs about it I said that I was tearing up because it's heartbreaking to watch people who are facing terminal illness and to be able to empathize with them, but my personal sadness was very much dependent on his relationship with Christ. I kept hoping for him to acknowledge a relationship with Christ, but it didn't happen in the first sixteen minutes and I now know it didn't happen in the last six.

Laurie anstead said...

It is heartbreaking... we should be constantly heartbroken for anyone who dies without Jesus...
My prayer is for us to be heartbroken more and more. and to become less and less insensitive.

Rachael Starke said...

Becky - you absolutely NAILED it, both the concern, and the way to talk out loud about it. I hope this helps lots of parents talk about this with their teenagers at home.

It is so hard to speak with both compassion and truth about the possible state of someone's soul, especially one so young. But we must, we must, we must.

Tami Hagglund said...

It's so, so heartbreaking. Both the empty hope that when we die it's simply a "better place" and the fact that so many people latch onto this emptiness. I ache for people to know Jesus, the certainty of things unseen...let alone the fact that dying without him is more horrible than anyone can imagine. Well said sentiments in this post!

Linda said...

I JUST watched the video myself and found it heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I kept wanting them to say that the reason he could face death was because he knew Jesus and that they would all be together in Heaven someday but I never got that message.

I,like you, am bothered by these "feel good" things in our culture that come so close to being real truth but somehow lack the final, most important thing: Jesus.

Jeremy's Journal said...

I too watched that video. Laughed, cried and especially sympathized with the parents, as a parent who has lost a child. I too waited to hear that his courage came from his relationship with Jesus. It never came. However, he did comment that his older sister helped him, "in his faith". Not sure what that entailed but wanting to be optimistic I held onto that comment.