I just don't care if I die...

I stood there, facing the bathroom mirror, wrapped in a towel and attempting to detangle wet knots of hair.

A half hour earlier, Nick's phone rang and thankfully interrupted our heated argument over a sink full of dirty dishes. But, my attempt to totally escape the topic by running to my mom hide-out (the shower) had apparently failed. There, behind me, stood Nick with a frightened look on his face.

"Liv. Don't talk that way. You scared me to death. I started to argue with you because I was so scared.  What I said about getting sick- I was just joking. But I could tell you were serious. Please don't think that way."

It's certainly no secret, by now, that I have visited a counselor several times throughout my life. And, there is always that awkward moment, at the beginning of the first session, when the counselor asks you THE question.

It's one of the only questions that they are required to ask. If your words are chosen incorrectly, the counselor must alert the authorities outside the walls of her small office filled with the obligatory couch - a meager attempt to make you feel at home and comfy while you spill out your guts to a stranger.

"So, Olivia. Have you ever thought about dying?"

Of course, a person of any intellect can see right through the question shrouded with a cover of philosophical thinking.  It's the SUICIDE question. 

My answer almost always remains the same.

"I never want to kill myself. But, I often just don't care if I die..."

Once the counselor is assured I pass the "suicide test," the true discussion can commence. And I try not to ever mention my somewhat apathetic point-of-view regarding death in the conversation again.

But, a few days ago, Nick walked into the kitchen after a stressful day of meetings and many attempts to sit and study.  His computer desk taunted him with a view of a beautiful sunny day that could not be enjoyed.

"Liv. I know this is weird. But, I've had this thought recently that if I became very ill, I wouldn't be that sad. I would finally have an excuse to sit down and rest with no expectations being put on me. There is something just wrong with that."

I looked up from the dishes and walked right through the conversational door I had kept shut for so long. He had opened it widely for me to walk right through.

"I know. I've been having a similar thought for weeks now. I am NOT suicidal. But, I keep thinking that I've lived a good life, and that if I were to die today, I'd be ok with that- maybe even relieved. I trust that God would take care of you and the kids - even find a better mother and wife. I'm pretty tired, and I just don't care if I die. Sometimes I pray to God, 'Just take me home.'"

Nick sat down on a teal green kitchen stool he had painted just for me. His voice rose as he tried to tell me I was being self-centered and overly dramatic - the curse of the genetics I inherited from an artistic family filled with musicians, Shakespearean actors and writers.

I can handle words of truth when I hear them spoken. But, he had not hit the mark.

Then there was the escape to the aforementioned steamy shower room and Nick's words that begged me to change.

We hugged and I reassured him that I would not say such forbidden things again. I didn't want to ever reacquaint myself with that scared face staring me in the mirror. But, my feelings remained buried and the same.

****

This past weekend, I went on our church's (

Focus Church

) weekend retreat in the forests of Estonia. This was an Alpha Course weekend - a place where people who are not Christians can explore the greatest questions concerning faith.  I knew what my role was for the weekend: to pray, to listen to people's stories, to lead and to help them truly worship for the first time.

I stood in front of a keyboard and microphone, and loved hearing voices raised and singing:

"Lord, I need You. 

Oh I need You.

Every hour I need You.

My one defense. My righteousness.

Oh God, how I need You."

Then the completely unexpected happened. Somehow in the midst of juggling the massive task of simultaneously reading music notes, words, singing, and worshiping, God spoke to me.

God doesn't speak to me through thunder, lightning bolts and audible words. It's not some spooky phenomenon. Rather, it feels as if the one person who created me and knows me better than anyone else, whispers to my spirit. And, it's undeniable.

One moment, I am in control and leading; singing. Then I feel His voice.

"Olivia. How dare you tell me that you are ready to die!

I love you.

I have invested so much in you. I have been with you since the very beginning.

I have given you a voice. I was there when you learned to play the piano, write and worship me.

I have walked with you your entire life; developing your character.

For 36 years, I have been molding you and investing in your design so that you can be here, leading these people.

To me, you are irreplaceable. I don't want someone else here doing what you're doing.

I want you."

And again, that word echoed inside of me: "Irreplaceable."

The problem is that this goes against everything I believe. When I look at the generations of people who have lived before me and will continue to live after me, I feel like one dot in the mass of humanity. Amidst the billions of wonderful people on the planet, I feel totally replaceable. I hear greater singers. I get to experience the grace of greater mothers. I see better lovers. I daily can read more talented writers. After all, NO ONE is irreplaceable. It's prideful to think otherwise.

But, there I stood with tears running down my heated, red cheeks. I had 30 people staring at me as I choked up and could no longer sing. And, in that moment, I did what any good worship leader would do in a similar situation, I continued to play the keys and said, "Let me hear YOUR voices sing it out to God."

I then leaned back from the microphone and played as a vocal chorus of these first time worshippers filled the room.

Irreplaceable.

Really? Is it possible that the God of the universe and the masses of humanity, at this moment, sees me as that valuable?

The answer is a clear YES.

"What is the price of a pet sparrow?

Some loose change, right?

And God cares what happens to it even more than you do.

He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail-

even numbering the hairs on your head!

So don't be intimidated by all the bully talk.

You are worth more than a million sparrows."

- The Bible -Matthew 10:29 (MSG version)

Can we really allow ourselves to believe that God knows each one of us so intimately that He knows our current hair count? If He notices when a bird falls, how could He not notice us?

And if He knows such an irrelevant fact about us, how much more does He know our history, our dreams, our hurts, our situations, or even our silent wishes to just leave it all?

And it's not by chance that you are a piano player, a singer, a professor, a waitress, a soldier, a CEO. He created you with specific giftings and for a purpose. A purpose that no one else can fill. Why? Because you were designed for it; for this specific place and time.

And if I, with all of my imperfections and private struggles, am irreplaceable, then so are YOU.

In my 20s, I had this picture framed and hung on my wall. It's a satellite image of the earth's lights at night.

I don't know why I liked it. Perhaps it reminded me, in the midst of the self-centeredness that attempted to consume me when I was young, that the world was bigger than my university final exams, love life and nerve-wrecking recitals.

But now, in my late 30s, I see it differently. Sure...from afar, all that we are and have created: our civilizations, our homes, our lives - they're like one big mass of light. Our single light shines seemingly unnoticed amidst the thousands.

But, your one light matters. It matters to the one person walking, lost, down an unknown darkened alley. It matters to the child who finds peace in the nightlight as it keeps fear from jumping out from under his bed or closet. It matters to the surgeon urgently working to meticulously rescue a life worth saving.

To those walking the path of life beside you, your light is vital.

So, don't you dare think about extinguishing it.

Even if you have yet to find your purpose or feel the strength of your beams, be sure of this-

You, bright star, are

irreplaceable

.

Simply irreplaceable. Never doubt it.

{While writing this, I can actually see how God began leading me up to this point months ago when I wrote this poem "In A Sky Full of Stars." Read it

here

. And remember the promise:

"You, my bright one, illuminate grace."

}