Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

What Suicide Can Teach Us About Being a Light

Some of you may be surprised how hard I’ve been hit by the tragic news of the suicide of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park. This was a band I listened to during my adolescence, a time of turmoil and angst like it is for many other teens. I didn’t really know the Lord during my early teens, and so secular music was all I listened to. This was a band that helped me through some pretty rough times.

Suicide Affects Everyone

Chester Bennington died in a tragic way that no one should ever have to experience. He committed suicide. He hanged himself. Sounds pretty heavy, right? Not something we tend to talk about in prayer circles or Sunday breakfast clubs.

And that’s exactly what’s wrong with our culture.

Bennington is not the only celebrity to suffer from depression and commit suicide. Think of Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, or L’Wren Scott.  Think of the rise in Christian pastors  struggling with depression and suicide.

Suicide isn’t just something that happens to “really messed up” people. It happens to our neighbors, our pastors, our friends, and our family. And now with shows like 13 Reasons Why, suicide and self-harm is more glamorized than ever. Suddenly young people are becoming desensitized to the consequences of these actions. After all, what harm could it be if all of the celebrities and cool TV characters are doing it?

The most important thing to remember is that suicide is never an isolated incident. We all feel the ripple effects, whether we are close family, a neighbor, or a fan of the person’s art. Suicide affects everyone.

The Calling

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that after a celebrity or prominent person of society dies or commits suicide, suddenly everyone decides that now is the time to reach out and show their love. I’m not saying that it is bad to pay your respects when someone dies, or that it means you didn’t do anything to help when they were alive. But if you take a moment to search Chester Bennington’s name in Twitter, you will find an outpouring of love and concern that you just normally wouldn’t see.

The question I’m wondering is, why can’t we always be like this?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5: 14-16 NIV)

 

As Christians, we have an amazing calling. We are called to be lights in this dark world. Imagine a world where every Christian encouraged at least one person every day. Instead of just waiting for tomorrow, why aren’t we expressing our love for one another right now? Why aren’t we forgiving one another and expressing our love today?

I don’t say this to be critical. I say this because I know I need it too. One of Linkin Park’s latest songs is called One More Light, and I find it to be a song of both sadness and inspiration. It’s a wake-up call, for you and for me.

Becoming The Light

I struggled with depression in high school and college, especially when my chronic health issues developed. Thankfully I have been healed of it by God’s grace, therapy, and supportive family and friends. But I still remember how the darkness haunted me. I wasn’t pulled as deep into the shadows as some people are, but I know enough to realize that we can’t ignore this issue any longer.

We don’t have to wait until another person commits suicide to start caring about the depressed and those struggling with mental health issues. We don’t have to wait until one more light goes out before we do something. You and I can be a light for Jesus right now, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Just find one person to encourage today.

Find one person and tell them that they matter. Because every soul matters to God, and He wants their light to shine eternally.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Note: If you or someone you know is depressed or feels suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You don’t have to fight this alone. 

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Christians, It’s Okay to Grieve

Christians can be some of the most encouraging, helpful people on earth. But when it comes to grief, we have a lot of work to do. Since my grandma died last summer, I find myself stumbling across Christian blog posts and advice about “overcoming grief” or “finding joy” instead of pain.

It can be very tempting to encourage others to fly past their grief. Believe me, I know. But it does more harm than good. I don’t want to blame my fellow Christians here though. I think American culture has ingrained a tough, busy exterior in us that doesn’t really allow the process of grief.

But did you know that it’s okay to grieve? In fact, it’s even Biblical!

Jesus Knows Grief

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3 NKJV)

Jesus is described as one acquainted with grief–a Man of sorrows. Our God knows what it means to bear grief and sadness. When Jesus came down to earth, He was met with a mess of pain and suffering. Our grief.

Our greatest comfort should be in knowing that God understands our mourning. To grieve the loss of someone is to express your love for them. And since Jesus is love, He wants that affection to pour out of us through our loss.

There’s a Time to Grieve

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NKJV)

The Bible tells us there is a time for everything. Life isn’t just one big party (I know, surprise), and there are times when it is appropriate to feel sad. The wonderful news is that grief doesn’t last forever. Though we may always miss our loved ones, God does give us joy and laughter in time.

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NKJV)

Not only is it okay for us to grieve, but Jesus actually gives those in mourning a blessing. God sees our troubles and sorrows here on earth. His heart breaks for us, and as long as we stay faithful, we will be rewarded for our season of grief.

There’s Hope in Grief

Jesus wept (John 11:35). This is a famous Bible verse because it is so short, yet so moving. Jesus was heartbroken when his good friend Lazarus died. He knew He would raise him from the dead, but His overwhelming love for Lazarus and his family broke through in tears. Yet there is hope in the final victory of Lazarus’ resurrection.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NIV)

There’s hope for you too, lovely one. If you’re grieving a loved one right now, please know that you have hope in Jesus. He is our greatest comfort, and our only hope for eternity with those we’ve lost.

Grieving Victoriously

When I lost my grandma, it hit me in a way I never expected. I was in shock and tried to bury the pain for months. I ended up having panic attacks from the trauma of watching her pass over, which made me feel even worse.

The same questions kept playing like a broken record inside my head. Why was my grief so different? Why couldn’t I just cry for a month and get better like other people?

I truly believe that God was trying to teach me a lesson about grief and how it can draw us closer to Him. Sometimes things happen in life that bring us to a place where all we have left is our faith. These are the moments God wants to use to invade our lives. 

It’s okay to grieve. You have permission to cry, panic, or be numb. It’s okay to not be okay, to miss someone.

The important thing is that you don’t lose sight of Jesus. He’s there to hold you and walk you through this season of pain. With God, we have all we need to mourn victoriously.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts or prayer requests in the comments below 🙂

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Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor~Part 3

Hello lovely readers and followers! Welcome to part 3 of my series, Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor. Please don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2. This series will be focusing on all 6 attributes of the armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:10-18. I hope you enjoy! 


I love you. 

The words bounced like ping-pong balls off the walls of Paulena’s mind. Jeremy always said those words, but they usually clung to the fringes of some selfish choice he’d made.

Paulena sighed as she placed the last dish into the cabinet. She volunteered every Tuesday for the last four years at this soup kitchen. And now Jeremy wanted her to give it up, to live with him in another state.

Paulena shrugged on her old wool jacket, feeling the tiny gold cross kiss the edge of her collar bone. She knew that being with Jeremy wasn’t the best option–at least not when it came to her faith. He never really cared about her moral convictions. In fact, he often mocked her for being old-fashioned.

But she loved him…

As the familiar words echoed inside, Paulena couldn’t muster the courage to speak them into existence. It was as if her heart was synthetic–made of cold plastic. She was doing what the world wanted, and as a result, had melted into its mold.

Paulena looked out the drafty window of the old, now-empty building as she absentmindedly pulled out her phone. She tried to call her brother, Sam, but only caught his voicemail. Paulena sighed, tucking a lock of shoulder-length blonde hair behind her ear.

She knew he would be out of work by now, but after their argument that morning, he had decided to ignore all of her phone calls. She wished her younger brother would go back to church with her–that he would stop turning his back on God. But the more she tried to encourage him, the more he pushed her away.

After leaving a tired voicemail, Paulena hung up and turned around. That’s when she noticed something sparkle on the freshly cleaned counter.

Paulena frowned. “How did I miss something?”

When she examined the glittering object, she realized it was a pendant on a silver chain. It looked like an elongated plate of some kind, with the engraving of a cross.

Paulena shook her head in disbelief as she unfolded the piece of paper that had been tucked underneath it. The words lit up her brain like fireworks.

My Dear Paulena, 

I know you’ve been trying so hard lately. You want to please Me, but the world also desires your devotion. This is a hard line to walk. Please take a piece of My armor–this pendant of righteousness. Wear it close to your heart, and you will know which path is the right one.  

Love, Jesus. 

“Armor…” As Paulena muttered the word, she heard a knock on the front door. She quickly shoved the letter into her pocket, and then clasped the pendant around her neck, hiding it underneath her sweater.

When Paulena opened the door, a burst of frigid wind hit her face. Jeremy stood like a shadow, illuminated by the glow of the snowy landscape.

“Hey Paulena. I’ve been waiting all day–”

His words went right through her as his silhouette darkened, fading into the blackened sky. For a moment, Paulena thought she was going crazy. That is, until she felt a warm sensation radiating from her chest.

“Jeremy,” she interrupted him. “I’m sorry. But I can’t be with you.”

“What?”

Paulena dodged him and ran, fleeing the hungry claws of the shadows surrounding him. She followed the glow of the snow, entranced as she remembered the letter’s words.

…you will know which path is the right one.

She found herself reaching for her phone again. Surprised that her brother answered, Paulena could feel the desperation in her voice as she spoke.

“Sam? Something’s happening. I think it’s…God.”

Before Sam could respond, Paulena dropped her phone. She stopped running when she noticed the glistening footprints of snow against the shadowy sky.

“Paulena!” She heard Sam call in the distance.

Paulena ignored him, watching as a figure emerged from the shadows, a golden band of fabric wrapped around his waist.

Out of the shadows, a voice radiated, echoing across the sky.

Looking for something?


…with the breastplate of righteousness in place… (Ephesians 6:14 NIV)

Thanks for reading and supporting! What do you think of the series so far? Stay tuned for Part 4 of Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor!

SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL so you’ll be notified when Part 4 is posted! 

Connect with me on Instagram @fearfullywonderfullyme

Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor is written by Emily Susanne at fearfullywonderfullyme.com, 2017 © No part of this content may be copied or shared unless given permission by the author and linked back to this web address. However, you are encouraged to share the link to this post as well as all other posts! 

In a Boat With Fear and Jesus

Picture this: Three girls are sitting in a canoe on windy waters. One of them is in the middle, clutching onto the sides of the boat for dear life as it tilts and bobs. Even though her friends are paddling and assuring her that everything is perfectly fine, she can’t stop shaking and singing “Oceans” by Hillsong.

That girl is me. 

A picture of me, overcoming my fear by going canoeing.

It sounds ridiculous now, considering how I was wearing a life jacket and was in a boat with two skillfully trained swimmers who I love and trust. But sitting in that canoe last weekend reminded me just how shaky and unstable this life can feel sometimes. Like a beautiful, scary, and mysterious adventure. 

 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14: 29-31 NIV)

Focus

I know I quote this passage a lot, but it is just that relevant. Anyone who has struggled with anxiety or fear can relate to Peter’s woes in those stormy waters.

As I was trying to keep calm on that canoe, all I could think about was the movie, The Shack. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It’s an inspiring story about a man named Mack, who has an encounter with God after a series of tragic, faith-shaking events in his life.

In one scene of the movie, Mack is in a boat, being plagued by dismal waters. He can’t see any way out. He is completely consumed by darkness and fear.

That is, until Jesus shows up. Suddenly God is asking Mack to focus his gaze on Him instead of the dark waves around him. When Mack finally musters the courage and faith to do this, he finds that the storm around him dissipates. He is free to see only Jesus.

There came a point when I was sitting in that little canoe that I realized I would have to trust Jesus and that He is who He says He is. My fear didn’t matter, and it would serve no purpose in my life other than to paralyze me. 

Trust

When I stop to think about what might have happened to me if I had tipped over the canoe, I realize that God would have kept me safe. He has never let me down before, so why would He start now? Instead of being like Peter and focusing on the rough waters around me, I should have just kept my eyes on Jesus. 

I don’t know where you are in life or your walk with God, lovely reader. Maybe you don’t even know who Jesus is. But I urge you to remember that nothing you can do will cease the waves and storms of this life. Only God’s perfect peace can bring you through it.

It can be so easy to look at all of the problems and stress around us, but we need to remember that there is a God who is bigger than any storm we may face. 

Despite my anxiety-ridden first experience at canoeing, I still ended up having a blast with my friends. I also learned that faith requires trust, despite the stormy seas of life. If I keep looking at the King who holds my entire world, I know that no matter what, I am safe. 

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8 NIV)


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor~Part 2

Hello lovely readers and followers! Welcome to part 2 of my new series called Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor. If you missed part 1, you can read it here. This series will be focusing on all 6 attributes of the armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:10-18. I hope you enjoy! 


Sam fought the urge to glare at the customer in front of him. The man just stood there, puckering his lips as he spoke.

“How long does a person gotta’ wait for a table ’round here?”

Sam grabbed a menu as he turned away from him. “Sorry sir. We’re quite busy.”

As the man muttered more complaints, Sam found his thoughts slipping into a new world. One that wasn’t a diner that attracted permanently dissatisfied middle-aged people who grated against his last nerve.

He dreamed about a fresh start, a new town where no one knew his name. Somewhere his past didn’t haunt him anymore.

Not five minutes after his shift ended, Sam felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He ignored it, running his hand through his sandy blonde hair as he left the diner. His twin sister, Paulena, was relentless in her quest to contact him.  After their argument that morning, Sam decided it was about time he moved out.

“What the…” Sam looked around as he approached his motorcycle, the January air biting his face. When he checked the storage compartment, he noticed that his helmet was gone, and in its place was a black, shiny new one–the expensive kind. What he couldn’t figure out was how someone had picked the storage lock to commit this odd vandalism.

He shook his head as he examined the helmet. That’s when he noticed the piece of paper that had fallen out onto the snow-dusted concrete.

Suddenly Sam felt immune to the cold as he became absorbed by the letter’s words.

My Dear Sam,

I know you’ve been running lately, thinking that you can escape the mistakes of your past. I want you to know that you can stop running now. You can come back home to me– I welcome you back with loving arms. Please wear this armor of mine. It will always keep you safe. 

Love, Jesus. 

Sam couldn’t make sense of the emotions that were twisting themselves into a violent knot inside of him. Who knew about his past? About the wrong he had done? He used to be a good little church kid…until he did the unthinkable.

But not even Paulena knew about that.

Sam clenched his shaking hands as he strapped the strange helmet onto his head. He crumpled the letter into his pocket, wishing he could forget about the whole “God’s armor” thing.

Sam started the engine of his motorcycle, revving it as the darkness of night enveloped him.

..you can stop running now.

Sam could hardly see as the shadows grew darker, like an ominous fog trying to choke him.

You can come back home….

He screamed as he lost all control, his bike flying out from under him as he landed head-first onto the frigid pavement.

When he opened his eyes, Sam knew he had to be dead–or at least close to it. It took his breath away when he realized he felt no pain. He sat up and brushed off the snow from his leather jacket. Not only was he alive, but he didn’t have a single scratch on him.

Sam reached up to remove his strange new helmet, but stopped when he saw a flash of light breaking through the shadowy fog.

Without hesitation, Sam got up and ran to the light, forgetting about his bike. When he reached the parking lot of the old apartment complex, he gasped at what he found.

A woman about his age was dancing around the lot. She moved gracefully–almost otherworldly–her face relaxed as every step she took lit up the night around her and left footprints that looked like sparks.

Sam dropped to his knees.

“This can’t be real. God, am I in heaven?”

That’s when he heard the whisper in the wind.

No, but will you come home? 

“You don’t want me,” Sam wept with clenched teeth.

The words of the letter flashed like lightening, brightening his spirit.

I welcome you back with loving arms.

Sam’s tears turned into laughter as he accepted the invitation. He found himself letting go of all the guilt and hurt as a warmth he couldn’t explain wrapped around him like a thick blanket.

After a few minutes, Sam finally stood, unsure of what all of this meant. Was he a Christian again, after all this time of separation?

And then he remembered that he wasn’t alone. The dancing woman stopped to look at him, the dazzling lights of her footprints glowing behind her.

Looking for something? 

The question hung in the air and he knew they both could hear it. Before he could say or do anything, Sam felt his pocket vibrate. Stunned that his phone still worked, he answered.

Paulena’s voice pierced his ear like a knife.

“Sam? Something’s happening. I think it’s…God.”


Take the helmet of salvation… (Ephesians 6:17 NIV)

Thanks for reading and supporting! What do you think of the series so far? Stay tuned for Part 3 of Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor!

SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL so you’ll be notified when Part 3 is posted! 

Connect with me on Instagram @fearfullywonderfullyme

Slaying Shadows with God’s Armor is written by Emily Susanne at fearfullywonderfullyme.com, 2017 © No part of this content may be copied or shared unless given permission by the author and linked back to this web address. However, you are encouraged to share the link to this post as well as all other posts! 

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