Monday, April 8, 2013

Matthew Warren, His Family, And Guidelines For The Rest of Us. . . .

I'm not sure that I've ever wrestled with the title and content of a blog post with greater care or for a longer amount of time. Nothing about titling this post or developing its content seems right. I don't know the Warren family. Any public mention of this in today's self-serving world of personal brand-building via technology and all its tools seems exploitive. That's not my intent. Rather, my intent here is to speak to how I've already heard some people speak to Matthew Warren's death.

Everyone is talking about this story. News media and social media has been buzzing since Saturday when the news about Matthew Warren's death broke. I haven't even come close to watching all the reports or tracking what everyone is saying about what happened and what led up to it. It's horrible. . . plain and simple. This is not the way things are supposed to be and we all know that in our gut. Nobody is feeling that more than this young man's family and friends. The rest of us - unless we've been through it - can't even begin to imagine.

Some of what I've seen and heard has been troubling. It's for that reason that I want to very quickly mention some guidelines that I believe might be helpful as we ponder how to best respond to what's happened. . . not only in this story, but in the thousands of others like it. Here are some strongly stated Don'ts and one simple Do. . . . 

  • Don't speculate. Don't speculate on what happened or the reasons behind it. Don't speculate on the specific causes and circumstances. We don't know. We won't know. We don't need to know.
  • Don't blame. The legalists and Pharisees among us will quickly dissect this in ignorant ways that throw blame, and shred an already hurting family. Enough said.
  • Don't simplify. This was a 27-year-old man whose story was just as complex as your story and my story. There are no easy answers here.
  • Don't exploit the story. . . especially on social media.
  • Don't downplay depression. It's not something a person can magically turn on and turn off with the flick of switch or a decision. If you've been there yourself or with someone you love, you know how powerful, deeply difficult, and complex depression is. 
  • Don't discount what God will do. God will glorify Himself through this. 
  • Do pray. Pray for Matthew Warren's family and friends. Pray for all those who suffer under the debilitating cloud of depression.

8 comments:

Ron B said...

Wise words Walt--as usual. Thanks.

Tim Ahlgrim said...

Thanks and Amen!

Amy Starr said...

I especially love #6, because I believe that God is going to be glorified through this tragedy, and I am so glad you said it to remind us all! Thanks!

Joshua Griffin said...

Appreciate these words, Walt. Going to shoot a Tweet out about them shortly.

Josh Griffin
HS Pastor
Saddleback Church

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Walt. Mental illnesses, depression etc are diseases that are hidden yet cause so much pain for the individual suffering and the families. Praying for the Warren family.

Kerry Smelser

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. My brother committed suicide and I can firsthand say that there is no speculation you could possible come up with that the family is not dissecting themselves. You are so right....things are complex.....it is a chance for the church of Christ to shine as we display the mercy and grace that has been displayed to each one of us if we are one of His. I would only add pray in the weeks and months to come. When we have all moved on the Warrens will not have and they need our love, grace, and prayers then, too.

Walt Mueller said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I grew up thinking that these things were so black and white. . . not so. . . not so. Thanks for your comments.

DanielSpratlin.com said...

Some great points in this post. Thank you for putting them out there. It is important that we, as believers, make sure to handle this and similar situations with grace and tenderness. I know what the Warrens are going through and I can attest that how others respond, especially those within the body, is immensely important.

I wrote briefly about Matthew Warren's passing and my struggle with depression and the suicide of a family member on my blog. I pray that others read it and may have a bit of a glimpse into the situation. Take a look if you get the chance: http://danielspratlin.com/2013/04/matthew-warren-and-the-effects-of-suicide/