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Dear Tommy: You Didn’t Leave Us, We Left You — 18 Comments

  1. Well said!!! I have two children who are high profile in their work and are dedicated career people - very little time for mum and dad. Also being blessed with a third child, she is a stay home mum with four adorable children. The love, the mess, the chaos, the sibling rivalry, family meal times and worship, the very humble living... mean some much more, richly comforting and a joy to behold. God made us family, Christians are His adored family and we can revel in the joys of church, fellowship, helping, love and more when we make the time and effort, sometimes even sitting back, interacting and enjoying the antics of our great family in God's domain. Each one is very special... I pray that those who are feeling left out, take a step or two out of the darkness to reach out and for the saints in the church who may be sitting back, to wake up and observe, help those out who are presently in the shadows, befriending them back into the light of the fold.

  2. Your post is most timely for me. I am in my late 70's and after watching the memorial service of an extremely accomplished & acclaimed classmate from my college days, I became somewhat depressed when thinking about my very ordinary, un-notable life. After a little talk with the Father and a nights rest I awakened to a fresh start today. Your post just put the icing on the cake.
    Thank you

  3. That's very true. It's an outlook that I need to cultivate. Thanks for pointing it out. It's a useful article.

  4. Very crucial insight, thank you. Just had a service for the passing of my father-in-law who always felt a little intimidated for being a very common person in a very highly academic community like Andrews. But he was faithful and honest, and at his passing with every one of his children and grandchildren faithful, loving each other, living healthy and purposeful lives, he died a rare, accomplished and very "wealthy" man. The world needs more "salt of the earth" people like him!

  5. I have felt this way all of my life, the way Tommy probably did. I have very little motivation sometimes, but I take care of my family. Maybe I am just supposed to be an ordinarily accomplished individual, but I'm ok with that if God is. Bless you all who have felt like Tommy. Please remember: suicide is a PERMANENT answer to a TEMPORARY problem!

  6. I am 71 and have been struggling with this for the past few years. What do I have to show for my life? I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Thank you for putting life into perspective. My life has been just what and where God wanted me to be. I am content.

  7. As a young person, I envied those of my peers that had their lives all laid out. In those many years, I struggled with the constant stress of trying to figure out what to do with my life. The “helpful” suggestions of my parents and close relatives were not helpful, but only added to my stress. (Imaging trying to force a plant to grow by constantly pulling on it, instead of nurturing it, until it comes out of the ground by its roots.)

    My first attempts to find purpose lead to what in my mind seemed discouraging failures (disasters really). It was a dark time. The worst part was I thought I was alone in my experience (at that time I was agnostic, but effectively atheist). Of course, that was not true, but it was what I believed.

    What your article has done is to raise our awareness of this issue, but to effectively address it, I think it is important to relate to the young person (and any person) that God puts into our lives in a way that shows that we love them: inviting them into our home to share a meal and human company; acts of caring, kindness and respect to develop relationship; listening (and watching their body language) to know what they are really saying; making ourselves vulnerable and real by sharing our some of our fears, struggles and failures; but most importantly, sharing how we have put our trust in Jesus, who is our only and true hope, and how he has borne us through the times in our lives when we thought we would never make it.

    • Thanks Richard for your transparent account and your advice. I'm with you 100 percent. It doesn't take a PhD in psychology to know how to help someone. Just some love and affirmation go a hugely long way.

    • I am so glad you are here! I am so glad you are alive, and that you were born! Please don't stop making your very important voice heard. I lost my daughter earlier this year, and it has been the worst ever each day goes by, realizing, I will never see her again on this earth. I know the enemy seems to have won, however, I am believing God will show mercy, because he looks on the heart. Thank you again!

  8. Jennifer, I have found a way for every life to be useful and fulfilling regardless of education or ability or talent. God actually reaches out to us as our potential employer.

    Psalm 37:3-5 KJV
    [3] Trust in the Lord , and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. [4] Delight thyself also in the Lord ; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. [5] Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. …

    Another verse that brings hope of fulfilling employment is: Matthew 6:33 KJV
    [33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    This defines our potential employer (God), the job description (His Righteousness) and the pay (all these things shall be added unto you)

    And the verses preceeding this give explanation: Matthew 6:31-32 KJV
    [31] Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? [32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

    Our family has been working in this manner for about 30 years now and have been blessed beyond measure.

    We have done what some might say is impossible, but we are not extra smart or talented. We have just given out what God has given to us. It makes us look smart and talented to some, because we are succeeding the way that won't work according to generally perceived correctness, but we have only God to praise for any success. God's way is beautifully different from the way of the world.

  9. Thank you Jennifer for this post that resonates with me in so many ways! As a full time Bible Worker and lay pastor my heroes are the everyday people who take Jesus into their everyday lives. No offense, but famous preachers are not my heroes. My heroes are those who live in the gospel in mainstream society. My goal has never been to be great. It has always been to finish work and hang out with my friends enjoying their fellowship.

    Your post reminds me of an old song by the Statler Brothers, "The class of 57." The song describes the everyday life of the class many years later. The point of the song is, everyone is living an everyday life even though they all had their dreams. Well to me, living an everyday life is the dream! I think Paul would understand what I mean.

    "that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you," 1 Thessalonians 4:11

  10. May God richly bless the author and those who shared their experiences and insights. I absorbed all thoughts. However, I have my doubts that this trend of individualism, pure success-orientation and materialism could be averted any time soon. Let us be of the little lights in our daily lives to those around us.

  11. Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for your post. It should be seen by the world. I believe that's one way it could make life better for the Tommy's of the world.
    While I really loved what you said, it was the last paragraph that just left me thinking. Should it just be because WE missed the "oil, the glue, the heart? I agree we should make Tommy feel needed and in doing so it may make him reconsider that option. But I don't think it should be so much about what Tommy does for me but how Tommy feels about Tommy, in spite of what others may think about him. And we should love Tommy, even if he isn't the glue, oil, or heart of the community. We are never going to make the world encourage Tommy the grocery store bagger, so we need to make him feel good about himself in spite of others. Please don't feel as if I'm being critical. I just think it should be more about Tommy's needs and his esteem, not so much what he does for me (while that is important). Also, sometimes the Tommy's may feel the need to act the way they do in public (oil, glue, heart) to overcompensate for the way they feel about themselves otherwise.
    Just a thought. I really do love your story. It reminds me of how we all need to encourage, "esteem others better than ourselves". Our words of encouragements are so powerful and easy to do. Doesn't cost us anything but can actually save a life.
    Thanks again Jennifer for the reminder. Only God knows how many lives you have saved from writing this.

    • Hello Robert!

      I totally agree with, "We are never going to make the world encourage Tommy the grocery store bagger, so we need to make him feel good about himself in spite of others " and " ...it should be more about Tommy's needs and his esteem".

      People are important and we are missing that link. To the grocery bagger, and the janitor, and other service people, I always say thank you for the work they do. I've been in service work, and in families that didn't appreciate me, and know what it feels like to be invisible.

      We need to care about the next person's needs and worth. Each person is as valuable as the next, no matter where we come from or what we are doing.

      My brother was an alcoholic, and for a time of 8 months, lived homeless in a cardboard box, through the winter. He refused help of all kinds. This was my real introduction to his arrogance. Yes, homeless people can be arrogant. He died young from complications of alcoholism.

      Then there was Sophie. Long ago, we had a friendship and even went to a church together. She hung herself in the basement of her parents home while her 1.5 year old child was in his playpen.

      We won't be able to help everyone, but we can begin to try.

      We can love everybody but we need to actually care. We need to call people up, be involved in their lives in a way that is helpful to them.
      And we need to pray for forgiveness for those who hold themselves up so high, that no one can measure up.

      While doing this, we need to be careful. Some people will take and take and not reciprocate in any manner. This can leave the giver burnt out. When receiving gifts, some people don't even say, "thank you". Some people will use you and use you and leave you bewildered. We need to pray for discernment.

      Each person has to figure out in their life how they want to bless others-there isn't a template.

  12. My daughter was a bright, beautiful 36 year old. Starting with two parent's who weren't together while she was here. I was a single Mom. Her dad was very unhealthy, and he killed himself nearly three years ago now.
    Just this last February, my daughter also committed suicide. I am glad you said this. What is important is to love our children, whether they are adults, or still living at home, no matter the age.
    They only want to know they are unconditionally loved, and accepted. Status is emphasized too much, and it is a societal pressure we all feel.
    My daughter is gone now, and I am left with the difficult, and life long task of learning to live without her. Thank you for speaking out. I hope this is a wake up call for some parent's.
    Their is no cost too small to save our children.

    • I'm so very sorry Rj. What a difficult thing to have to accept. I pray God will find a way to comfort you in your loss.


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