Last night I was scrolling through Twitter, pretty mindlessly as usual. But then I saw a tweet that didn’t seem real. I did a double-take as my heart dropped out of my chest.
Jarrid Wilson, a well-known pastor and mental health advocate, had passed away. The first tweet I thought didn’t say it explicitly, but as I began to scour Twitter for more information, my mind began to assume the worst: suicide.
Tragically, my assumption was confirmed by a number of news articles I found shortly afterward.
You mean the guy who was ALWAYS speaking about mental health on social media, the guy who so desperately wanted others to know their worth and openly spoke out about the terrors of depression and the tragedy of suicide? That guy? The 30-year old guy with a wife and two young kids?
Yeah. That guy.
The guy whose wisdom and Christlike attitude was always a breath of fresh air on social media, never stirring up controversy but always communicating love and respect to any and all people with the message of Christ.
The guy who so viscerally understood the darkness of depression and gave his life to ensuring others wouldn’t succumb to the weight of it.
But that guy wasn’t just any guy to me. I’ve looked up to Jarrid for years, respected his viewpoints immensely, and appreciated the gracious and loving way he communicated the love of Christ to a large audience.
Sometimes we think of “celebrity” pastors as distant figures who aren’t so much real people as they are caricatures of some mold we’ve assigned to them.
Jarrid was not that.
He was a real dude who actually struggled with the things he preached about. He actually spoke from experience.
And he actually practiced what he preached. I know from experience.
Jarrid Wilson didn’t know me personally. I’ve never met him. But when I started blogging during college, I reached out to him because I respected him as a writer and leader in the church.
I took a shot in the dark when I reached out to Jarrid, thinking I’d never hear back from him due to the magnitude of his audience on social media. I was wrong. He followed me back on Twitter, but he wasn’t just a far-off social media influencer. He actually interacted with me from time to time, and though our interactions were brief and mostly surface-level, I could sense one thing.
When one of my blog posts started picking up steam, I sent it off to Jarrid, thinking he would like what I had to say (and in all honesty, hoping for a tweet and some promotion of my post). Jarrid actually opened the message, to my surprise. He had some encouraging words for me.
It’s very easy to use those words loosely or insincerely. But I knew Jarrid meant what he said. He didn’t really know me, but he didn’t need to. I was his friend, and I didn’t have to earn that position. I was his friend just because I was a human being.
To Jarrid Wilson, I mattered.
On Jarrid’s Twitter profile, the banner says “Your Life Matters” — the cry of his mental health advocacy organization, Anthem of Hope.
Jarrid Wilson practiced what he preached. The words on his Twitter banner were the banner he raised over his entire life, devoting his time and energy to make sure people feeling isolated and marginalized knew their lives carried infinite worth.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share his message, which I believe comes straight from the heart of God, in his memory.
Darkness is real. Depression is real. The devil is real. And his conniving just robbed the world of an incredible person who I knew was in my corner.
My friends, suicide does not end the chance of life getting worse. Suicide eliminates the chance of life ever getting better.
Whatever you going through, you are not alone. Your life matters. You are worthy of love, dignity and respect. You. Yes, YOU.
There is a God in Heaven who created you, loves you more than you can fathom, and has a plan for you greater than you can dream.
YOU ARE LOVED.
If you ever need somebody to talk to or somebody to pray for you, I’ll provide a judgment-free ear and I will listen to your story. Reach out to me. Don’t hesitate. I’m here.
Jarrid Wilson mattered, and his soul still matters to Jesus.
If Jarrid were reading these words to you, I think he’d end with one simple fact…