I wish I could have had the opportunity to counsel Hannah, a teen in the compelling Netflix drama entitled 13 Reasons Why. After experiencing bullying and rejection from her friends, she gave up on life. She decided there was no way out except suicide.
Hannah took her life in the final episode.
Hannah wrote 13 letters to 13 friends explaining to them her 13 reasons why she decided to take her life. Each letter was an episode. Each friend had hurt or disappointed her. She wanted them to know how each one had contributed to her decision to commit suicide.
I believe there are many reasons for Hannah not to take her life. Thus far, in this blog series, I’ve tried to offer 13 Reasons Why Not to take your life. For Hannah, and all people in depression and despair, there are reasons to live. I’ve covered 11 thus far.
Here is my next reason not to take your life: Circumstances change. They always do. Nothing stays the same forever.
Think about it. The weather changes. Rain and wind came come out of nowhere. In some places in the world, people even joke if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes.
Feelings change. Feelings of happiness and sadness can be separated by just a few minutes. Everyone knows this reality.
Life changes. Hair becomes grayer. Waistlines become larger. Skin wrinkles and sags. If you marry, your kids grow up and leave home. Most people have several different jobs before they settle into the one they spend the most time doing. Possessions rust. Clothes wear out. Who really has many friends left from high school? We remember most of them, but few last for a lifetime.
And circumstances change. What you are experiencing today isn’t necessarily what you will experience tomorrow. In fact, things can change in an instant.
I love sports. Interestingly, every sport has what commentators call “game-changing moments.” It’s when something happens that completely changes the momentum and outcome of a game. In football, it’s often a long touchdown pass or run. In basketball, it’s when a series of several three pointers in a row happen. In baseball, it can be an error that allows an extra batter who then hits a home run.
These moments happen unexpectedly. No one saw them coming. But when they do happen, they are easy to point to and remember for being why victory occurred.
This reality can be yours. You may be right around the corner from an unexpected phone call or text that will forever change your life. You may be a few moments away from an encouraging word that will keep you moving forward. You may be within a day of meeting someone who will offer you an opportunity that gives you hope. You may be a minute away from God doing an incredible miracle for you.
That’s why suicide is so sad: It forever finalizes game-changing moments. Hope can never happen. A miracle becomes impossible. Your future is finalized. No change can ever occur.
Circumstances constantly change. That’s a reality of life. But here’s another reality of life you need to grasp: God never does. In an ever-changing world, God never does.
The fancy theological term is “the immutability of God.” It’s all over the Scripture (James 1:17; Numbers 12:19; Hebrews 13:8). Why is this concept important? It’s because you can always lean on him. His love, care, and compassion for you never changes. They are consistently available for you.
Your faith rests in the arms of a never-changing Father in heaven. He wants you to come to him with all your burdens and he will give you rest for your weary soul (Matthew 11:28-30).
One other thought needs to be mentioned here. As you lean on a changeless God, knowing his grace never fails, you may need to make a decision to change your friends! If they are like Hannah’s, constantly bringing you down and discouraging your life, choose new friends! I bet there are many people out there who would love to be loved by you and give you love in return.
Once I had the privilege of interviewing Will I Am, the lead singer of the Black-Eyed Peas. We were in front of several hundred pre-teens. I wanted him to speak to the need for these kids to choose their friends wisely. I even referred to a phrase my dad repeatedly used to tell me. “Son,” he’d say, “your friends are like elevators. They will either take you up, or bring you down.” Wise words from a very wise man.
I asked him, “Knowing the importance of friendships to hurt or help you, and if these kids have bad friends bringing them down, how would you advise them?”
Will I Am didn’t hesitate in his response. He poignantly said, “Get new friends.”
Get new friends. If your friends are hurting you, get new friends. If they are bringing you down, get new friends. If they are causing you to contemplate suicide, like Hannah’s, before taking your life, get new friends!
And lean on an immutable, changeless God who will always love and care for you.
Everything changes, except God. Nothing ever stays the same, except the Lord.
And remember: You can choose to change your friends. If they are bad and dragging you down, find new friends!
Do so now. Don’t wait another moment. Choose life, not death.
And live life to the full, as Jesus promised and intended (John 10:10).
Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.
Romans 12:19 (ESV)