A year ago, I visited one of my best friends in Washington, D.C. It was a girl’s weekend filled with seeing the National Monuments, good food, fun laughs, and great encouragement. While exploring the city, we passed a very familiar face. One of my friends exclaims, “Oh my goodness, that was Jett Jackson!” I immediately was floored. Jett Jackson was the titular character of a beloved Disney Channel tv show. I remember spending much of my childhood dreaming about the day I would marry the pretty-eyed boy who played that character. Well, today I found out he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
When I heard about Lee Thompson Young’s death, I was immediately saddened for two reasons:
1. Suicide is something that I struggled with. When I was 15, I made the decision to end my life. I am actually just realizing that this is the 10 year anniversary of that time in my life. I decided one night to collect all the pills in my house and take them in hopes to end my life. I even wrote a goodbye letter in permanent marker on the inside of my closet door, which is where I figured my mom would find my lifeless body. God’s grace is the only thing that differentiates my story from Lee’s.
2. When I was told that the Famous Jett Jackson walked past us, I was so tempted to go after him to talk to him. I wanted to talk to him because he was a celebrity! It was exciting that someone I had watched on tv as a little girl was in real life near me. Looking back on that moment, I wish I could say sorry to Lee. I am sorry that I saw you as a celebrity first and a hurting person second.
God sees the hurting world that we live in. He sees the pain, the destruction, poverty, shame, brokenness, and death. He isn’t blind to that. He hears the cries of His people asking, “When, God, will you do something about this mess.” He answer is, “I have done something, and I will do more.” God’s answer to this world was to step into history and offer us hope through Jesus Christ. We have hope for redemption through Jesus. God through Jesus offers us life instead of the death that this world promises. God uses his people, people like me, to bring this message of hope to this hurting world. So, there I was with good news that maybe could’ve made the difference in a person’s eternity and I only looked at him as an idol. Me in my hypocrisy read the gossip tabloids/websites in hopes to find out all the latest news about celebrities, thus feeding monster that causes them to be idols in society. I fed that monster so much that when I could’ve had the opportunity to maybe share the Gospel, I missed it because I saw a tv star and not a person.
So, to wrap this blog post up, I will say sorry. God, I am sorry that I was not being the person you’ve called me to be. Lee, I am so sorry that you were hurting so badly and saw death as the only answer, the only escape. I am so sorry that if I would’ve gotten over myself, maybe God could have used me to reach you. I really pray for your family and friends to have peace in this, one of the paradoxes of life. I really pray God’s word over them, Matthew 5:4, which says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I don’t know if any more words could do this situation justice. In the end, I’m just sorry.
P.S. Please know that I am not naive enough to believe I ruined God’s plan because of my mistake. God’s day isn’t ruined by me messing up. I just think this is a wake up call for all believers to realize that they are ambassadors of Christ in every role in society they play. We have an obligation out of love for our fellow man to offer them hope when there seems to be none. Let the Church rise up and be the beautiful bride we’re meant to be.