Roy Exum: Rising Above The Ruins

Saturday, March 15, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

On March 28th – eight days shy of a year since their beloved son took his own life – Kay and Rick Warren will host an important conference they have known was coming for years. They are cordially inviting everyone to attend a one-day summit at the Saddleback Church in California and, while they know “The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church” will not bring Matthew back, their prayer is that his death will be used for the good.

Matthew’s suicide last spring rattled “America’s Preacher” and his wife. It caused all of America to gasp as well, this after Warren’s sensational book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” has become the best-selling non-fiction book of all time. “How can something so horrific happen to a family like that?” was the universal response.

In a September interview with Piers Morgan, Warren supplied the answer. "We've always known since Matthew has lived his entire life with mental illness that one day we would be spokespeople for mental illness. Kay and I have known this for years and years,” he said.

"The reason we were quiet was primarily to protect Matthew's dignity. It was his story to tell," Warren explained. "We were always praying that either A, he would be healed miraculously, or B, will get treatment, therapy, medicine that helps him manage his disease for the rest of his life, and then he can tell this story."

Now the Warrens’ newest mission begins. They will tell the story. They also want churches all across America to remove the stigma of mental illness. They want to encourage those who suffer from it, educate families and congregations and hopefully teach church officials how to provide the best care and compassion for a disease that sadly most know little about.

One out of every four Americans will experience some form of mental sickness during a year and one in 17 (almost 14 million people) have severe problems. "Any other part of the body, you can have it hurt and there is no shame in it," the pastor reasoned. "If your brain doesn't work right, why do you have stigma? It's just another organ in your body."

What better place for comfort than the church? "It's so important that people know, no matter how desperate their despair, there is hope, and not to give up," said Kay. “We want this to be a hopeful event that encourages individuals and helps them realize they are not alone in dealing with mental illness."

Her heart is guided by a quote from Eric Liddell, a gold medalist at the 1924 Olympic Games: "Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans. But God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love."

Kay has this message for each of us. “In some way your life had a day where there was a ruination. God is not helpless among our ruins."

In a revealing story written by Michelle Vu of the Christian Post, Kay admitted her family suffered “catastrophic grief" and provided the writer with this outline of what that means:

• It's messy, not a clean grief: Nowhere to place the anger since the person one loves is the killer
• So much guilt: Almost everybody ends up feeling at some point, could I have stopped it? Should I have done more? What if I had said this? What if I have done this?
• All consuming: Keep replaying the day that the suicide happened over and over again
• Exhausting: This kind of grief is hard work
• Lonely, Isolating: Many times, it feels like it's just me and the universe and God
• No End Date: Life will never be the same again, but life will be good again
• It opens up other un-grieved, un-mourned, and incomplete losses

"I have to tell you that I fully expect for the rest of my life, as long as I live, there will be tears in my eyes. And I won't ultimately be comforted until God Himself wipes it from my face," she said.

Until that day comes, Kay and Rick Warren are dedicating their efforts towards helping those with mental and emotional problems. “Every morning when I wake up and every day when I put my head on the pillow, the reality occurs again," she said candidly. "He's not here and he's not coming back."

"But I know that Matthew is okay … he's truly okay. He is not asleep; he has not joined the cosmos; he's not part of the force; he has not ceased to exist. He went straight into the arms of his savior Jesus Christ when his body hit the ground on earth; he was in the presence of God,” his mother said.

"And in the perfection of heaven, his broken mind was healed. And I'm so grateful for that. And I look forward … I wait for the day when I'll finally see for myself."

royexum@aol.com



Please Give A Teacher The Pat On The Back They Deserve

   I'd like to start off by introducing myself to my District 1 constituents. I'm Jason Moses, and I would love to earn your vote. I hope you feel, like so many others, that I'm the best candidate to replace our current school board representative. There are currently three of us running for District 1 school board representative. I'm the best choice to to represent us ... (click for more)

Gays, Transgenders, And The Bible

I was baptized as a young child in the Universalist Church,  now the Unitarian. My family, both sides, are Methodist going back to the 1800's. I was married in the Episcopal Church. I thought seriously about becoming a Catholic or even a Jew but felt too old to go through all the training. The religious intolerance I heard and read seems to reside mostly in the South. ... (click for more)

Cleveland City Schools Announces 5 Finalists For Director Of Schools

The Cleveland City Schools Board of Education announced the five finalists for the director of schools position.   The community is invited to attend the Board of Education interview session each day 6-8 p.m. at Mayfield Elementary School, 501 20 th Street NE, Cleveland. A complete schedule is attached.   Candidates:   Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Expansion By Developers Of McCallie Commons Would Raze 3 Old Houses On Oak Street

Developers of the McCallie Commons student housing at McCallie and Central are wanting to expand the project, but it would involve tearing down three old homes on Oak Street. The proposal from developer David Hudson would be an expansion of the four-story apartment building and separate parking garage with 300 parking spaces proposed that was approved earlier. The original ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Inter-Squad Scrimmage Saturday

Chattanooga FC will hold an Inter-squad match Saturday, May 7th, 7:00pm at Finley Stadium. The event is open to the public and free for all who attend.  The 2016 roster is set! The Inter-squad match will be the first chance for fans to see their CFC team in action. After the game, everyone will have the opportunity to get autographs, take photos, and talk with players, ... (click for more)

Baylor's Kayla Hughes Named FCA Christian Athlete Of The Year

Baylor School softball star, Kayla Hughes, was named the Greater Chattanooga FCA’s Christian Athlete of the Year at the ministry’s annual Day of Champions Sunday afternoon at Ridgedale Baptist Church.  Hughes, who will continue her softball career at Tennessee Tech, was chosen from among twelve high school FCA senior leaders nominated by area schools.  This is the 53rd ... (click for more)