Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)
TITLE: A Lesson I Learned From Lisa
By Kristen Hester
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I didn’t know Lisa’s son. I only met Lisa, who lives in my subdivision, when she joined me on the Pregnancy Care Center Board. I immediately liked her no nonsense attitude and her diligent work ethic. I recall now the things she told me about her son, Tyler. “Hoot” is the word she’d used to describe him. The local newspaper described him as “a star athlete and honor student whose talents and awards were only outnumbered by his friends and admirers.” The article quoted Lisa as saying “He had goals. His future was bright.” Not anymore, I think bitterly. Now his body is about to be buried and his mother is without a son she adored. I am angry and sad. But mostly I am heart broken for my friend.
I learned of Tyler’s death by email earlier in the week. The message came through my church’s prayer chain and said simply, “Please pray for Brad and Lisa Davis. Their son Tyler was found dead at their home. No other details at this time.” No, I had cried in shock. It can’t be. Usually the church prayer chain consists of requests for so and so’s great-aunt in Montana who will be having surgery next Tuesday. It’s not supposed to inform me that less than a mile from my house a family’s life has been changed forever without warning.
Later that day a friend told me that Tyler had hung himself. No, I cried for the second time. As the day wore on gossip was finally separated from truth to reveal the strange reality: Tyler had accidently hung himself while playing the choking game, a form of self asphyxiation. Teens wrap a belt or rope around their necks to get a “high.” Tyler died when he fainted and his belt did not release from his neck. A senseless death for sure, but I am glad it wasn’t suicide.
At the funeral, they are calling the service a Celebration of Life. Family, friends and pastors share humorous, uplifting stories about Tyler’s life. They give thanks that he knew the Lord. They are all confident he is in Heaven. No doubt I am glad for this, but still I think of Lisa and the emptiness she must feel. How can you go on when so much of your life revolved around your son?
Lisa gets up to speak. I am amazed at her poise and her strength. She must be in shock. She says that if Tyler were alive he would say playing the choking game was the dumbest thing he ever did. She goes on to warn the hundreds of teens present to never play the game. She speaks with clarity and purpose.
After the service we file by the family. I dread seeing my friend. What can I possibly say to her? I have no words. When I get to her, she tilts her head to the side and smiles at me. She reaches out her arms and hugs me tightly. I blurt out what is on my mind, “How can you be so strong?” She puts her hands on my shoulders and pushes me to arm’s length from her. Her eyes show shock and disappointment at my question.
“Because I have the power of Jesus,” she says as if this is the most obvious answer in the world. “With full confidence I know Tyler is with his Savior right now and would not come back if he could. And Tyler will not die in vain.” She speaks with the strength of a mighty warrior, a mother on a mission.
I walk away humbled and shamed. She lost her son, yet is more confident in the promise of Jesus than I have ever been. Lord, forgive me. May I be confident in You, just like Lisa.
Author’s Note: This is based on a true story. The names have been changed. Our small town has lost two Christian young men to the choking game. For more information about the choking game, go to www.stop-the-choking-game.com
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