To be, or not to be

I definitely remember using Cliff’s Notes in high school. In today’s society, a quick internet search will tell you this quote came from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.How ironic that I married an English major who remains an expert on Shakespeare, even after 30 years.

(No, he doesn’t proof my blog, sorry.)

Hamlet is contemplating death and suicide, bemoaning the pain and unfairness of life, but acknowledging that the alternative might be worse.

Fast forward to Greenpond, AL, 1988.

When I was in 8th grade, I walked along the railroad tracks behind my house with my mom’s pistol in my hand. I was debating how to end my life. Train or gun?

My name was all over the bathroom stalls at my high school. Ugly, gross pen marks labeling me as accused, an outcast and dirty. I wondered that day, under the gray, fall skies of Alabama, if anyone would feel bad when they heard about me. I wanted them to feel guilty.

I didn’t even know what some of the things were that they wrote.  My friends passed notes in class asking me what it was about.

Backstory on my slang education: When I was in elementary school, a guy on our K-12 bus asked me if I woke up with a pearl necklace around my neck, and then cracked up laughing at my confused expression. This was when I lived with my grandparents and caught the bus from the side of Highway 5 in Woodstock, after walking a half mile (seriously) up and down their gravel driveway.  I might have been 10 or 11.

Later, at 14, when I walked around our square, high school building, it seemed like the walls were closing in around me, and as if everyone was staring at me. 7th-12th grade. All talking about what was written on the walls. Or, maybe they weren’t. Maybe they were just taking about homework or who was riding through Main Street after school.

Maybe it was just a handful of girls being mean, but at the time, my teenage brain could not see through the cloud of despair to know all was not actually lost.

I did not know there was a life outside of high school. I did not know I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), or that I was God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), or that I was bought with a price, of precious blood, from a spotless lamb. I did not know I did not have to believe or accept what they wrote.

I think we live in a bubble when we are young and that is why the smallest things can be so devastating in middle and high school. In my case, you went from the protective, nurturing 6th grade classroom of one teacher…to high school.

Maybe Taylor Swift can write a song about when you’re 12 and in the 7th grade with grown men of 18-19 who call you fresh meat and try to put their hand up your denim skirt on the bus or at a school dance. It’s so weird…where were the adults? Lol. I have so few memories of adult faces during that time.

Yes, I wanted to make those people pay for lying, distorting the truth, and for being just absolutely cruel – by leaving behind a note pointing out it was their fault. You did this.

I will never understand why I lived (okay, maybe I do), and I don’t even remember what kept me going. I have to imagine it was a praying grandmother on her knees somewhere, crying out to God to protect her grandchildren. There’s really no other explanation. I certainly did nothing to help myself and no one ever talked to me about my issues. My plan? I ran away.

I didn’t go far and there was never a search party or helicopters, or anguished, remorseful faces from those at school. My plan wasn’t a good one as a friend and I headed off with $12 in change and some sour cream and onion chips. We got scared by midnight and used a pay phone at a local gas station to call the family member we thought wouldn’t beat us.

I called my grandmother.

Rumors and gossip are like arrows to the soul, piercing a heart already broken that causes an actual catch in your chest…a momentary shortness of breath. It is like a wave that continues to crash over you, and you’re unable to surface in the water.

How in the world do we expect kids to make it through feelings like this? Now, it’s off the bathroom walls and on the screen in front of thousands. Instantly.

Those girls are certainly out there… I’ve talked to at least ten teenagers like this in the last few years. I can relate to their feelings and I grieve at how the enemy has deceived them in their thoughts by using attacks to wear them down.

You see, to escape that world of dark, shadowy buildings, where your thoughts whisper from the alleys of no escape, depression and death, there’s only one method of combat. We aren’t using it.

Yes, I believe in counseling and therapy, but if not also partnered with the spiritual branch of help, then I don’t know that someone ever completely heals.

Not everyone just lets it “roll off their back.” I know those people and I wish I had been programmed to think with more of a calloused heart, but I can’t.

I don’t understand mean people. I don’t understand those who get off on just talking and speculating and talking…until they are satisfied with their opinion of a situation. But, then again, who controls their strings?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive (2 Corinthians 10).

The answer, for those that made it this far, is TO BE.

To be. To fight. To win.

For the glory and kingdom of God, so the enemy does not snatch any away.

Who’s willing to fight for them?

Jeremy Simpson and Keysha Simpson

Brother and Sister

West Blocton High School

1991 or 1992