It was heartbreaking to see in person. From the front row of the Michelob ULTRA Arena—the Stanford women’s basketball team was wearing Stanford Soccer t-shirts during warm-ups before their basketball game against Oregon State a month ago in Las Vegas for the PAC-12 Conference Tournament. They were publicly honoring their fellow athlete and friend, Stanford goalie and co-captain of the women’s soccer team, Katie Meyer, who had only just died by suicide a day or two before.
With the recent news of Katie’s death along with the announcement of Ohio football lineman, Harry Miller, medically retiring from football due to depression and suicidal thoughts, I felt compelled to share my story.
A conversation about suicide on the surface seems to necessitate a light touch. But I don’t see it this way. Instead, I am one who lived in sick darkness that led me into the perilous life-threatening mental territory. I needed hope, and I needed it fast. I needed hope to kick in my door. Addressing suicide is not easy, but if we don’t, who will?
While this can be a difficult and sensitive subject, the best I can do is use my voice, my message of hope and pray my imperceptible declaration reaches the right ears and hearts.
I recently penned my story in a book titled, “HEROIC DisGRACE—Order Out of Chaos, Hope Out of Fear—A Worship Hero Story.” The purpose of my story and the lifestyle of heroic disgrace I have chosen to live was modeled after what I learned by studying the historical person, Jesus of Nazareth. The lifestyle of heroic disgrace reveals a hope-restoring, soul-saving message to anyone who will tune in and listen. Ultimately, I know I cannot reach or change everyone. But when I was at the end of my strength, the lifestyle of heroic disgrace gave me specific handles to grab when chaos and fear had driven my life off the rails, mentally, physically and spiritually. I was reached. I was changed. I learned Jesus Christ’s pathway to hope and living health.
Death by suicide can result from something I’ve personally experienced, “a sick mind leads to sick thoughts which leads to sick actions.” I’ve been there. The only difference was, that though I was sick, I never lost hope completely. But I did forget to hope. There is a big difference. Then, just in time, I remembered how to hope. Hope was re-infused into my life as I began to tell the story of how I had wrestled with God for years. Telling my story gave meaning to my pain (the crisis of my bipolar disorder) and helped me make sense of my life and purpose.
I know for a fact, that God reaches and changes people. I am proof. A lifestyle of heroic disgrace brings order out of chaos and hope out of fear. This lifestyle guides people, not to perfection, but to health. Heroic disgrace kicks in the door to hope. The specific good news of Jesus Christ’s lifestyle of “heroic disgrace” will save someone’s life and soul. I know it has and will.
I ache, realizing the pain Stanford soccer goalie, Katie Meyer, must have been enduring when she took her own life. I identify with the tortuous mental sickness that could have driven me to the same end. But I will not let her death keep me from speaking life and hope to those who remain on this side of eternity because I am a witness, “God makes healthy what He doesn’t heal.” God has not healed my bipolar disorder, but my choice to live the lifestyle of heroic disgrace has made me healthy. Look at my life as evidence.
We live in an era where truth is unfindable and hope is unreachable. What I mean is, I know I can’t do anything for anyone who has lost all hope. That person is totally in God’s hands. And yet even in this, I’ve learned that God always does His most remarkable work when it seems darkest, despairing and the most upside-down. I have underestimated the power of the Great Hero, Jesus Christ, for years throughout my life. But my new life and hope are confirmation that a lifestyle of heroic disgrace works. Yes, suicide will always be a sensitive subject. But I surely can remind a person who has forgotten to hope to remember to hope. If you have failed to hope or know someone who has, please let me guide you back to the dangerous path that leads to safety; it’s the path of heroic disgrace that Jesus Christ paved.
Because there is hope – let’s talk about suicide. Let’s talk about health. And most of all, let’s talk about the lifestyle of heroic disgrace all humanity was designed to live—God the Father, the Great Storyteller, Divinely designed you and me to desperately “Pursue Jesus. Reflect Jesus.” as a habit leading to hope. The greatest heartbreak I can imagine would be to walk a lifetime on some other less dangerous path and never experience the adventure and safety of eternity with Jesus Christ. The journey of heroic disgrace dares anyone searching for hope, true heroism and wholeness to test its value. So go ahead. You’re not a spectator in the front row, you’re a player on the court. Test its value.