I first heard about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why only 3-4 weeks ago via a post on Facebook. Reading the emotive comments beneath the post, followed by the actual article itself, immediately sparked my interest, and over the following weeks more and more posts about the series – from blogs, Facebook pages and friends – popped up in my news feed. Close friends began to tag me in posts, knowing my feelings about the series. I can honestly say that over the past few weeks, it has haunted me and I have sat down several times at my computer to try and write this post, but not able to fully gather or verbalise my thoughts and feelings.
This morning, as I showered (my thinking time 😉 ), my mind wandered back to a book I have been trying to read for so long it is embarrassing (long gone are the pre-children days of laying in bed reading for hours!) In the two pages of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp I managed to read while waiting in the car at school pick-up time a couple days ago – through eyes that so badly wanted to close in the warm car – I was struck by this realisation. I dislike the series 13 Reasons Why because it is devoid of any hope. No grace, no forgiveness, no joy, no light…just darkness. Can watching this and showing this to our kids really be of benefit?
Tragedy struck Ann Voskamp’s life at a very tender age when her toddler-sister was struck and killed by a delivery truck on the family farm. Ann writes, “And with the laying of her gravestone, the closing up of her deathbed, so closed our lives. Closed to any notion of grace.” (p11) Throughout the years that followed and into Ann’s adulthood, she struggled to find joy in her world (reasons to be thankful, reasons to live!) until one day, her close friend messaged her with a challenge…
“She dares me, and I don’t even blink. Could I write a list of a thousand things that I love? I read her line again. As in, begin another list? To name one thousand blessings–one thousand gifts–is that what she means?” (p45)
I have been struggling now for over half a day about what to write next. I have written and deleted and written again, over and over. I know that there will be many that read this post and disagree with me. More than anything, I want this post to be positive, to be an encouragement. By no means am I trying to be critical, particularly if you/your kids have already watched this series. I guess that what I am trying to do is give hope. I have personally chosen not to watch 13 Reasons Why and I will not allow my children (aged 16, 14, 12 and 10) to watch it either. I feel passionately that I must protect them from it’s content. That is not to say that I am trying to bury my head in the sand regarding the topics of bullying and suicide. I just believe that there are better ways for Isaac and I teach our kids about these topics than via a graphic, violently explicit, dramatised, perhaps even romanticised portrayal that will be stuck in their heads (maybe even cause damage) for the rest of their lives. (“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:3) I want to teach my kids – and pray that I am already by the way I live my own life – how to treat, respect and love others and also, how to love themselves. I want them to see that even in their darkest days, there is hope and light and life…and little things, daily things, that add up to bigger things to be thankful for.
So this is what I have chosen to do, (thanks to Ann Voskamp for the inspiration!) and will be actively encouraging my children to do as well. Please, join us, if you will:
- Find an empty notebook. Something pretty, something meaningful (perhaps gifted to you by a loved one or filled with inspirational quotes), something that makes you feel special when writing in it.
- Find a pen/s you enjoy using – your favourite colour, preferred tip, glitter or none. I personally really dislike my hand writing and resist writing at all costs (I even get my husband to write our kids’ birthday cards…naughty me!) but hand writing is personal and so will this experience be.
- Keep paper and pen in your car glove box, your hand bag, etc so you can jot down notes when out and about – transfer them to your notebook later.
Write authentically, from the heart, as soon as possible, when the thought strikes you…”I am happy because…”, “I feel joy when…”, “I am grateful for…”, “I am thankful for”, “I feel blessed when…”, “I love..”, “I feel alive when…”, “My senses awaken when…”, “My life is worth living because…”, “I feel hope for the future because…”
- Keep it simple if that’s all you have, be poetic if you like, be honest, be spontaneous, be yourself. Feel free to get creative – tape pictures, tickets, receipts, memorabilia into your notebook.
- Number your #reasonswhy – soon you will reach 10, then 100, then 1000, then, before you know it….#tenthousandreasonswhy…to be thankful…alive! 🙂
Many of your thoughts and feelings will be deeply personal, you may feel even slightly embarrassed at the thought of sharing them with others. Thats ok, you don’t have to share. This is for you. But if you feel compelled to share, please do! I will share some of my own #reasonswhy now and then on my Facebook page.
“I begin the list. Not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have.
Morning shadows across the old floors
Jam piled high on toast
Cry of the blue jay from high in the spruce
This is the beginning and I smile. I can’t believe how I smile. I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down–it is sort of like…unwrapping love.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p45
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts or you just need some love and support, there are many places that can help:
Please know, you are NEVER alone, and there is hope. ❤
Ten Thousand Reasons by Matt Redman