Saturday, February 28, 2004

Confessions of a Grieving Servant

I’m finding myself at a loss for words…

There are a few things in my day that are for sure: I will for sure wake up to my kids hustling around to get ready on time. I will hear, “brush your teeth, we’ve got five minutes before we have to leave!” And the countdown will continue until they are all off (usually 10 minutes late). I will jump in the shower to get myself ready and usually 10 minutes later I’m out the door. I will unlock the gate and step onto the battle field (the Kennel). I will grind up some coffee and go to my office, get things ready and wait for it to brew. Eventually I will sit down with my hot cup of coffee and get into God’s word, prayerfully before the first call hits or I get sidetracked with some other detail of ministry. I will look out the window of my 6’ x 6’ office and see the traffic flying by wondering: where do all of the cars come from in this small reservation town, and where are they going? Some days I serve lunch, get things ready for the after-school crowd, or do the radio program. Everyday, without a doubt, God provides me the opportunity to do things that are deep and meaningful and things that, frankly, mean nothing in the grand-scheme of things. I will see a lot of kids each day, no doubt (will I have a chance to share the hope I have within?). The chances are good, too, that I will get to see a girl named Hope. She will find me, wherever I’m at in the Kennel, and give me a hug and tell me how she is doing that day.

Who is Hope? A beautiful, smiley, 15-year old girl that symbolizes to me all of what an Apache girl is…and isn’t. I can guarantee you, through knowing her for 4 years, if she is home when I honk the van or bus horn for bible study or to come help with VBS, she will come running and be sitting right next to me. From time to time she will confide in me her real feelings. There is no doubt in my mind that some of you reading this will know who I’m talking about. Beautiful and smiley on the outside doesn’t always reflect what’s going on inside. Wait…change the tenses in this paragraph from present-tense to past-tense. Thursday night, around 8:00pm, Hope, the beautiful girl full of potential, went to her closet and hung herself.

So you’ve maybe heard me talk about the suicide rate here. Never mind how alarming it used to sound. Nothing that used to be matters, it’s all changed. It doesn’t matter that there were 534 suicide attempts last year (out of 14,000 tribal members). To me, right now, it doesn’t matter if that decreases 100%. The day’s activities are not relevant. It doesn’t matter that we are 45% under budget, or what kind of music is playing over the system, or if we are out of fries… Only one stat matters: 1 girl, Hope, felt hope-less. Where was I? Was I too busy? What, if anything, could I have done? And where am I now and who are the “Hopes” around me? Hope was a special girl with a personality, smile and a hug that I will never forget. Awaken me oh Lord, make me more sensitive, more effective, more relevant.

I don’t know what could of ran through her beautiful mind as she strapped herself to the bar, I can’t comprehend why. At this point I only know a couple of things: God reigns, He is in control and this one hurts…bad.

- Ron