(Photo by Selma Komisky)
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CONTENT FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
From One Writer to Another
A Tribute to Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein
By Sarah Komisky
I never feel more at home than I do than when I’m writing. Words help me process, express myself, and also connect me with others. This is where I find my connection with fellow wordsmiths and there are a couple of things I appreciate about them. Depth. Originality. Art. But there are two attributes that I believe make writers epic – transparency and passion. Without these, their words are as bland as food without salt or spices. Uneventful. Unappetizing. Authenticity, however, allows me to say “yes”to investing in a work. It draws me in because, well, I can relate to it.
Although I never met Jarrid Wilson or Andrew Stoecklein, I felt I got to know them through their written work. No writer can ever hide themselves. If they try, the genericness will leave an aftertaste that you won’t want to revisit. Great writers leave their mark on every word. Traces of them are seen through the pages, indelibly preserved for all future readers to discover.
Every writer must have a voice and both Jarrid and Andrew’s voices were consistent. Transparent and passionate. It was casual. It wasn’t cumbersome rhetoric or deep theological deliberations. It was down to earth. It was palatable. It was welcoming.
As I scrolled through Jarrid’s blog posts, I read the voice of someone I admired. Jarrid made me want to listen to what he had to say as he always offered his own life experience first.
On a social media post, Jarrid wrote, “I’m a Christian who also struggles with depression. This exists, and it’s okay to admit it.”
In another social media post he shared, “Everybody’s human. Everyone needs Jesus.”
Simple, yet, blatantly relatable.
Andrew, on his blog posts, struck me someone who cared – a lot – about others. Someone who didn’t hide his pain through life circumstances and signed off his posts with “God’s Got This.”
He wrote, “the certainty that we do have is only found in our Heavenly Father.”
He addressed subject of mental health in his sermons like the “Hot Mess” series with authenticity, saying in a message, “Mess is what brings us together, and brought God near.” This lead pastor also invited others into his own life and pain, asking for prayer and candidly documenting the reality of his own life, always pointing to hope that was evident as an anchor.
In a world that rarely shares their weaknesses, struggles, vulnerabilities, and imperfections, Jarrid and Andrew’s words have been words of fresh air, giving us all permission to be human. There has been no pretense. Both didn’t pretend to be the pastors that had it all together. They also didn’t claim to have all the answers. Both simply were themselves and wanted to encourage others to do the same. They did not conceal their struggles. They shared about them publicly in order to help others and let them know they weren’t alone.
Everyone now wants a platform to speak and to write. Anyone can do this, but it is what they say that will determine if we should listen. Jarrid and Andrew earned the trust of their readers and followers on social media using their words wisely. Both also championed what it meant to show empathy. They educated the world on mental health and crusaded to remove the stigma. They dialogued to inform, but also to invite all of us to get real with ourselves and others – to have authentic community our generation craves.
But not only that, Jarrid and Andrew were willing to use their pain and passion to birth an anthem of hope, proclaim with resolve that God’s got this, and ultimately call the church to action.
Jarrid wrote in a blog post:
“God’s love, regardless if you believe in it or not, is a light in dark and weary times. It’s a lighthouse to a ship lost in a sea of colossal waves, and life-raft for those who are sinking.
HOPE IS AVAILABLE.
Your life has a purpose no matter how broken you think it may be. And although ‘darkness’ is something you might struggle with throughout your life, you must always remember that the hope of God is there to grab hold of in times of need.”
While the world has and will mourn the loss of Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein, we must not remember them for how they died, but what they did while they were alive: Advocated, spoke out, wrote, led, loved, befriended.
I will remember the words that live on in hope – the crusade that I will continue to fight.
Thank you Jarrid and Andrew. Your writing is something I believe in. Something I invest in. Something that I identify with.
Thank you both for giving this gift to the world.
From one writer to another, thank you.