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U Matter to Me (written upon news of a loved one’s suicide)

Given that many people feel alone, unloved, and forgotten over the holidays, I decided to share this … if you know anyone who needs to know he or she matters, please pass it on.  

My loved one was one of those “free spirits” imprisoned.  The kind who longed to fly free but had heavy chains pinning her wings.  

The One who hoped drugs would numb it.  By “it” I mean All of it:  the wickedness of childhood abuse, the gaping hole in the soul carved with cruel words and hurting hands. The torn apart heart from a mother who couldn’t be one, so trapped in self she couldn’t see the right of her baby girl to be free — Free to be her creative, earthy self, free to be imperfect, free to want new shoes and a new dress (even if that meant momma couldn’t have one), free from insults that cut like a knife and lies that separate hearts.  She was the baby girl suffocated,  her feet caught in a mesh of pain.

Grown woman, in her 60s, couldn’t release the past, stop the pills, end the warfare. Whatever reason she chose to end her own life, I’m just so sorry about it. I’m sorry I didn’t know her pain more intimately or how to heal it logistically.  I’m sorry she hurt so bad she thought there was no other way.

Little girl, fly free, my heart cries, believing Jesus took her in his arms.

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U R Not Alone, I hear my baby son sing in the backseat, echoing Kari Jobe’s song I play again and again.  U R Not Alone.  U May Be Afraid, but U R Not Alone.

To those who hurt like my Loved One did — U R Worth More than how you feel right now.  Please, I beg you, reach out for help. Get honest about your pain. Relentlessly pursue a path to preserve your life, to find your joy again. Seek out the right people to talk to.

Because no matter how some have treated you or not, loved you or not, lied to you are not, no matter what shaded grays, shattered mirrors and heartbreaking moments are in your story, U Still Matter.

Loved One, U Mattered to Me. I knew you when I was a little girl and I knew your life was tattered and your past forsaken and you were trying to make your way in the world with drugs and bad men, but U Still Mattered to Me. I still loved to listen to you speak, for you to show me the intricate fabrics of your past because I wanted to peer into your life up close. As a grown woman, I wish I had grasped the magnitude of your pain; had I known better I think I would have reached into your darkness without fear that the grime may have reached back at me.

To whoever is reading this:  wherever you are, however you feel today, U Matter. Nothing is too ugly for God’s hands and heart to enter in; no room too cluttered by broken moments for Him to arrive; no life too lost for Him to save.

There is Always More Hope, More Healing, More Health to pursue and be gained. There is Forever More Freedom in Jesus … and suicide is Not the Answer, but He is. Run to Christ.  Run hard, run fast.

U Matter to Me

Pursue He who “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps 103:3-4)

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.  He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.”  (Psalm 22:24)

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust …From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with you.”  Ps 103:11-17

U Matter

So my answer to suicide is no. No to ending your own life but yes to Jesus. And Jesus’s answer to suicide is life, love, compassion, and mercy. So I guess we both have the same answer.

Today, every day, remember:  U Matter.  Pass it On.

Love,
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About the Author: Jennifer

Jennifer Strickland is a wife, mom, TEDx speaker, and former professional model. She is the author of Girl Perfect, More Beautiful Than You Know, and Beautiful Lies, among other books and Bible studies that teach women their worth in God’s eyes. Since leaving the modeling industry, she founded URMore.org, a non-profit ministry that provides resources to hurting women and girls. Her favorite moments are found working on the family ranch with her husband, who she calls “the Cowboy”; in her kitchen, concocting a new version of her famous spaghetti; or spending time with their three precious children.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.

Barbara Brown

Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA

“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”

Nancy Ortberg

Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church

“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”

Allie Marie Smith

Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made

One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”

Thelma Wells

Thelma Wells, D.D. (Hon), President of Woman of God Ministries
As a teacher, participator, and observer of public speaking for most of my life, I’ve come to realize that many speakers make one of two mistakes when interacting with their audience (especially when that audience is mainly teenagers.) They either expect their audience to climb up to their level (which feels unattainable to the crowd) or they step down to the level of their listeners (which feels cheap and pandering.) The best speakers meet their audience where they are and lead them up to where they want them to be. This feels genuine. This is what Jennifer did over the last few days at our school.
Jennifer Strickland is a funny, engaging, dynamic speaker. She shares truth with authority and credibility that comes from both experience (her story is powerful) and an obvious depth of study in the Bible. The ideas she presents about Value, Identity, and Purpose are truths everyone needs to hear.
I heartily recommend her for your conference, school retreat, or any event where you want your people to be encouraged and challenged with deep, impacting truth.

Andrew Doan

Andrew Doan, Concord Christian Academy, Concord, NH

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