I bought my first Johnny Cash album one afternoon in college. Scratch that. I obtained my first Johnny Cash album one afternoon in college. In 2002, it still seemed perfectly legit to create your perfect mix c.d compilations using free Internet downloads via Napster, Audio Galaxy, or some sort of website sure to ravage your hard drive. Growing up with a father who educated me well on music, I always had an awareness of ‘the man in black,’ but hard livin’ country was not particularly my genre. The selection was a departure from my typical music downloads of Broadway show tunes and the angsty girl pop of the era( think Ashlee Simpson and Avril Lavinge). My sweet roommates and friends were too kind to indulge in my music choices. They still are today.
That afternoon, I hitched a ride between campus and my apartment with a friend(scratch that again), crush, who lived in the same complex. He offered to give me a lift, and I think I almost kissed him. Not so much because of the aching crush, but for no other reason than he was sparing me from an afternoon trek across the entire rolling hills of Pickens County. His six-slot c.d. changer(that’s not an accurate memory, but it feels authentic) was playing a Johnny Cash album. We listened and he said that Cash was his favorite musician. He told me about Cash’s newest project where he was covering the song “Hurt” by NIN. Our brief car ride came to an end as he told me I should check it out.
And so, minutes later, I had my very own Cash compilation. If I was going to secure another dialogue with my chauffer crush, I needed to know what his car jams were. Naturally.
While Cash never became my go to car jam man, EXCEPT when I pretend I'm dueting with a hottie on this song or Walk the Line movie Reese/Joaquin style with this song:
I did, like so many of my generation, grow to love him. And with Johnny Cash, it is always more than just the song. His heart and his life resonate in his tone and voice.
I read that this week is Suicide Prevention Week. At the risk of offending so many well-meaning efforts, the idea, at first, seems so trite. It doesn’t matter how much purple I wear, or hotlines, tips and tricks I share, it will not bring back my father. And, I don’t think it addresses the core hurt of so many who may be at risk. I saved this church bulletin from last year with a Johnny Cash quote:
Sweet friends, this post today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, is not one from a professional counselor or expert on mental health. I am not here to give you 10 Ways to Prevent Suicide, or my gosh, even attempt to understand, much less, resolve a vast, tragic, and very painful thing. But I do understand a few things: Johnny Cash knew hurt. Trent Reznor, the NIN songwriter who penned those words, knew hurt. And, my sweet Daddy, who was overcome with despair in the darkeness, knew hurt.
But God KNOWS our hurt!!! If you are hurting, KNOW this:
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.(Psalm 147:3)
He has not abandoned you. If you are feeling all alone, REMEMBER this:
The Lord will not reject his people;
he will not abandon his special possession. (Psalm 94:14)
If you are lost and seeking refuge, KNOW this:
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety. (Psalm 18:2)
You were made by a loving and merciful God.
You are His creation...HIS MASTERPIECE.
Your value and worth is in Him.
And Good News, sweet friends, our worth is NOT dependent on our doing! Our identity and worth--our value is bestowed on us with His grace!
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
And reject the lies, sweet friends. The enemy comes only to deceive:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
GOD IS THE TREASURE.
JESUS IS THE TREASURE.
AND YOU ARE HIS TREASURE.
THIS LIFE ON EARTH IS PRECIOUS. YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS.
EMBRACE EVERY BIT OF THAT TRUTH.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 CORINTHIANS 4: 7-18)
There will come a day when all the chaos will calm. But may we hold on tight to the love and life here, and carry on until that day.
For we are bound for the Promised Land!
I love you sweet friends, and God loves you more!!!
No chilling winds or poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
When I shall reach that happy place,
I'll be forever blessed,
For I shall see my Father's face,
And in His bosom rest.
For further help and/or resources, To Write Love on Her Arms, is a great organization.