BOOK EXCERPT - September 2016 - Kansas City
Facing Darkness, Finding Light
Lifa After Suicide Healing comfort for those left behind
by Seffany Bart
Mom, what’s suicide?” I asked from the back seat of our family’s Chrysler station wagon as we traveled northbound on the “highway to Heaven,” the road to our fundamental Baptist church.
I had first seen the word a few days before. During the closing credits of a rerun of the television show M*A*S*H*, the title of the show’s theme song flashed onscreen: “Suicide is Painless.” Ten years old, a lover of books, a seeker of knowledge, and a student of broadcast television, I wanted only to deepen my vocabulary.
My mom, in the passenger seat in front that day, turned around and looked at me with wide-eyed surprise. Gracious, gentle, and God fearing, she believed in heaven and hell. Every Sunday, she dressed us properly and directed us firmly in church conduct and the Baptist teachings, so that our souls could stay with her into eternity.
Her devotion to the church was a blend of sincere spiritual satisfaction mixed with a desire to quell a mother’s inextinguishable grief. She had lost her first child, my brother, when he was just a toddler and before he was christened at the church. Although she believed that he waited for her in Heaven, she ached for him daily and battled breaches of faith and moments of doubt because of her failure to wash his soul clean in baptismal waters. She would not make that mistake twice.
My younger siblings and I had been saved and baptized in the church. Wanting to please my parents, and seeing how happy it made my mom when I learned from my Bible, I set about making a name for myself in the congregation. Quickly, I learned the books of the Bible, memorized the Ten Commandments, knew the 23rd Psalm by heart, and could name every piece in the Armor of God. I committed to memory over 100 verses, and won Bible Trivia Bowl at the tender age of 10. Not only could I be found in church; I was into church. This did my mom’s heart good.
Not understanding the meaning of the term “suicide,” unable to fathom the intense and sensitive nature of the topic, and incapable of realizing how Mom most likely would imply a personally terrifying meaning to my question, I recoiled at her response: as she turned in her seat and looked me in the eye, she spoke quietly but with an ardent fervor.
“That is a sin against God. Never speak of that. It is wrong.”
I felt my face flush and my stomach knot. How I wished I could retract the question! Not only had I upset my mom, who only wanted my safety, but I had also dabbled with defiling myself against God. I promised myself that I would not use the word, nor further my efforts to understand its meaning for the foreseeable future. At the time, that seemed the best I could do to make amends, to make my wrong right.
Several years later, in a literature class, I stumbled on the word as I read our assigned story. Typed in bold, “suicide” was a term for which we were to write a definition. Dutifully I did so, feeling uneasy. This magnified as I read the true meaning. Although I understood, I could not fathom the concept. How? Why? What would cause a person to do that?
In 14 months’ time, though, I would be thrust headlong, forever changed, into an experience with suicide.
Steffany Barton, RN, is a clairvoyant, intuitive medium who works passionately to ignite the spark contained in each person to a brilliant fire in the soul. Through lectures, stage presentations, books and individual sessions, she illuminates the unseen world and speaks for the voice of Soul. Her work has been featured on TV and radio; her messages of love have a ripple effect around the world. Facing Darkness, Finding Light is available on Amazon.com. Please visit Steffany’s website, www.steffanybarton.com