10/12/87 - 5/5/04
We are gathered together today around this tragic event. We want to share with the family, a friend, someone, our grief, pain, and confusion, over Lauren's death and decision. What can we say to her mother and father and family that we haven't already said, "We are so sorry." Some of us are still in shock, some bewildered, some distraught, others stunned, some are fearful, and still others angry, "Why Lauren, why?" Our emotions are flying very high and we need to share together, support, and come together around this family, our community, and school....
Lauren was special. She was loved and liked by so many. It doesn't make sense that she'd want to end her life when there was so much to live for. But Lauren seemed to have two lives. One that was happy-go-lucky, playful, goofy, fun loving, like an outer she made things a lot ,ore fun. She made so many feel included, liked, and loved by her. Then. there was a darker side, a side of distress, depression, even torment. She wrote "How can anyone love me when I don't love myself." She struggled big time with feelings of dislike, distaste, and disappointment in her self. The evidence of her life long struggle could be seen in her restlessness, constantly engaging in various
activities, moving on to new relationships and other friends. Yet, those who knew her liked her, loved her, and wanted to be around her. Lauren was a talented, beautiful young woman whose self image and self worth was distorted by the struggle of life.
What is the struggle of life? It is living knowing that there is something wrong and something missing within us. We all struggle with insecurity, self doubt, fear and a love/hate relationship of ourselves. there are times when we love being alive, love who we are, love doing things, enjoying life, there are times when we do not. We have all missed opportunities, been disappointed with ourselves, even discouraged to the point of being depressed about who we are and why we are here in the first place. And to be real honest, I don't know of very many people who haven't thought about life being better without them. In our down and lonely times, when we feel discouraged, our negative feelings overwhelming us, feeling like no one cares or understands us, we've all thought it would be better to be dead than live. Everyone struggles with life and everyone wants out and everyone wants to escape from time to time the pressures we feel from the outside and those from inside of us as well. There is no temptation that comes to us is not common to all.
The struggle of life comes to us because we were born into the world not knowing important things, spiritual things, issues of life we need answers to...such as Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? Who made me? Why is there death and suffering in the world? Where do I go when I more to life than what I know? What is the truth?
Not knowing God is the basis for our struggle. No one is born knowing God and the void and spiritual loneliness is common to all. All of us are sinners, doing things that are wrong, making mistakes and often choosing to do things that are not right. We all know something is wrong with us and the constant struggle for love, for acceptance, for purpose, drives us. There is a restlessness in everyone and it remains until our souls find rest in the One who made us.
The stresses of life although sometimes overwhelming emotionally have an answer they point to, The answer is Jesus. The answer is finding and knowing God. The answer is pursuing and seeking and being in God's will. We suffer so because we were made to know Him, find Him, to experience God's love for us, and to live our life pleasing Him/ The struggle of life is the result of missing that mark. When we don't know Him, when we can't find Him, we don't know his love, we don't know the purpose of our life, or that God really loves and forgives us, or that we are not pleasing Him, the result is pain, emptiness, and worthlessness. We can try to live for ourselves, please ourselves,
work for ourselves, but the truth will eventually catch up to us, that we didn't make ourselves and someone is calling out to us, trying to make things right for us. wanting to fix what is wrong within us. What is wrong that God is not in His proper place in our lives. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Why does life have to have a struggle? Why isn't there peace to begin with? Why is there death? the answers to these questions are sill found in the Bible. The Bible tells us that the struggle of life came when Adam and Eve rebelled against God's place in their life/ The world lose peace because we lost God. Death comes to all because we have cut off the source of our life and have been separated fro god. We are made to know Him, in knowing God, we die spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Death is life's greatest wake up call upon humanity. Death is forever, death is permanent, and there is no recall. The Bible teaches us that man is appointed for death and once dead then the judgment of God, Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life, and have more abundantly," Each of us can't help but examine our own lives when someone we know and love dies. Our own mortality faces us, we all know that some day death will come to us, the question that commands our attention is: Are we ready for death? Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except by Me. He said "Unless you repent, you will perish."
For Lauren there was a time not too long ago when she made a commitment to Christ. She began to learn and walk in this faith. Recently, she even began to return to Church. But as you know she lived two lives...her restlessness led to other things, other pursuits, other involvements...On one hand she knew the answer...yet she was young, she was listening to many voices...some of the voices in our world are evil. predatory, seeking to steal, kill and destroy our lives. I some very real ways, Lauren's life was stolen from her by voices of death, a culture that devalues life, that believes death is just an escape, nothing to fear, so take your life...these voices are heard in music
, movies, the media, and many are found on the Internet.
What voices are you listening to? Jesus said "My sheep hear my voice they listen and they follow me. Are you listening to God's voice? The world will offer you many things, it will claim there are no real answers, truth is what you make it...HOWEVER, there is an answer it is Christ Jesus.
I would like for you to make a spiritual check of yourself. I believe Lauren with all of her struggle in life, found the answer despite the confusion that took her away from us. I believe she is in heaven grieving over the pain se caused so many, especially her parents, her nephew and sister, relatives, and closest friends...she knows NOW she made a mistake in taking her own life! She knows now that her emotional state that drove her to escape in this way, wasn't nearly as bad as it felt that he voices she was listening to deceived her. That is often the case, when we feel bad, feel lost, unloved, it can distort reality. It can give us a false perspective that seems so real, yet it will pass - the teenage years will pass, the depression can be helped, the issue that seems so important is not as important as it feels at the moment-tomorrow is another day! It is amazing what a day passing by can do to change the way we feel about things.
I believe Lauren would want to make a spiritual check of yourself too. First, do you know that God loves you and has a plan for your life? We struggle most of all with loving ourselves because we don' really know if God loves us. Second, do you realize that the struggle of life you are experiencing is the result of sin and being separated from God spiritually? We have all sinned and are born not knowing God. Third, God has answered this problem by sending Jesus Christ to die for sin. The cross of Christ pays for it, taking away the laws demand against us. And finally, we must give God permission to save us, forgive us, and to come into our lives. Have you ever invited Christ
to save you? Have you ever asked God to forgive you and come into your heart? Jesus said "You must be born again." This means we must be reunited with God in Christ and this can't happen until we surrender our lives to Him personally.
I have shared with you about Lauren, about death, about life's struggle, and the answer that comes from knowing God in Christ. We are here to mourn, to grieve, and share in the pain, comfort, support, the family and each other. We have sung songs, prayed prayers, sat in silence, remembered her with our thoughts and words. We do this so that we can bring some closure to a very tragic event; and event that will live with all of us the rest of our lives. An event that will life especially in the lives of this mother and father. No parent is perfect, no parent gets is all right, and yet even if they did, they will still torment themselves feeling that there must have been something
they could have done different. Many of you may feel guilt too. Yet , no one should blame themselves, Lauren ultimately made this decision, many tried to help and many did help. Maybe that help is what prevented her from taking her life sooner. But I also like what one woman said, "The Lauren we all knew and love is not the Lauren that did this." No, she was overtaken by a darker side of life, by confusion, by the need to escape the pain and torment she lived with. Her decision was wrongfully influenced by evil and distorted thinking.
Lauren is looking down and is seeing the pain her decision has brought to so many. Suicide may seem like the answer, but look at what is does to those who are left behind. Yet, in the midst of this pain, confusion, bewilderment, and even anger, we celebrate a beautiful young woman. She left us with a wonderful smile, a love of life despite her death, a fun loving attitude despite her personal struggle with depression, a love for people, a goofiness, even silliness, that makes us all laugh. We love Lauren, e are very glad to have known her in our life. She made us feel better about ourselves, we wish we could have made her feel better about herself. We will always carry her with us, we will remember her bright life, and yes, let's try to remember the positives most. At the same time, lets not let her death be in vain. We all struggle with life; we all have times when we need help. If you are in one of those times, get help, receive help, and let others help. Lauren does not want you to follow in her steps in her death. She would want you to follow her good side, follow her fun loving side, and follow her spiritual side....
Let us pray...
A video was show with this song:
Friends, by Michael W. Smith
Backing up dreams God's planted
In the fertile soil of you
I can't believe the hopes he's granted
A chapter in you life is through.
We'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone.
Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love between us strong.
And friends are friends forever, if the Lord is the Lord of them.
And a friend will not say never, because the welcome will not end.
Though it's hard to let you go, in the Father's sense we know,
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.
This song can be heard on Lauren's site at the friends site.