If only I’d known. I sat at my desk in disbelief, too stunned to cry. The text message lay open on my phone, daring me to question. A beautiful girl with a pure soul, Carrie* possessed a rare sensitivity toward God and others. How could she be gone? Her life wasn’t snuffed out by a car accident or wracked by the anguish of cancer. She had taken her own life. After a lingering battle with mental illness, had it come to this?
If only I could’ve helped. I’ve known suicide before, but always from a distance. This time it seemed up close and personal. Greg and I knew Carrie and her family. We loved her. She’d confided her battle, the personal demons she fought when her mind became warped and diseased. Greg and I had sympathized, said we’d pray, and life moved on. Actually, it had moved on for me, but not for her.
It was a long weekend after we discovered this news. Added to the pain of her passing was my pain of regret. I, the woman who believes in second chances, the one who seeks to hear and understand others’ pain, who offers to pray and help—I had done nothing. I’d not reached out. I’d not texted or called. Worse yet, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d prayed for her.
Through my tears and anguish I realized I was too late. Too late to change anything in Carrie’s life. Too late to redeem the time. Too late.
I thought of her bravely seeking help. Of the dark days and darker nights when she wrestled. I certainly hadn’t walked with her through the valley of the shadow. I hadn’t petitioned the throne of grace for help for her. I’d done nothing. Through my tears and anguish I realized I was too late. Too late to change anything in Carrie’s life. Too late to redeem the time. Too late.
That weekend set me on a journey to discover the answer to this question: What is life? This vapor that we enjoy, this mingling of purpose and pleasure and pain?
Does life consist of what we do? Agendas set, meetings accomplished, lists fulfilled? There’s got to be more to it than that.
Perhaps life is the beauty of a sunrise, the warmth of a hug, the sun on my face. Yet it encompasses more than that.
Maybe life is about me and Jesus, my walk with Him, my joy in His presence, my savoring of His Word. Yet, somehow, that still isn’t everything.
I believe life is the relationships we build between Jesus and others. It’s the sensing of a need and seeking to share. It’s the drying of a tear and connecting that precious soul to God. It’s being the hands and feet of Jesus. Now and forever.
That’s my purpose. That’s my passion. I want the if onlys of life to be in the past. It’s time to live with purpose.
* Not her real name.
Jill Morikone is vice president and chief operations officer for Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.