Category: Sean Stanton
Day 16–Sean James Stanton
My Ode To Michelle Beckman
Six years ago, a dear friend of mine died and I wrote a piece in her honor, called, “ My Ode To Michelle Beckman.” I would like to share that piece with you, but before I do, I want to tell you that I learned something about suffering from Michelle. I learned that many times– people who are suffering, can enter into others’ suffering and help them. When our son died, I allowed Michelle to enter into my suffering, because she had cancer, and she was suffering herself. I knew she understood suffering.
I have also found that because of my suffering, others would share their stories of suffering with me. They trusted me, they took off their masks and let me see their suffering.
Scripture talks about that if one of us in the body is hurting, others in the body share in that suffering, (I Cor. 12:26). Honestly, before the death of my son, I have tried to avoid suffering, and so avoided sharing in the suffering of others.
The times where God has allowed me to join in another’s suffering, have been times where I was most aware of God’s presence, love and strength. I know that these are actually great gifts from God, and have revealed the Lord more fully in my eyes. Michelle was one of the people God used to teach me these things. So without further ado:
My Ode to Michelle Beckman
August 11, 2016
Dear Family & Friends,
My friend Michelle Beckman stepped into eternity yesterday. She walked past that line that has many of us wondering what she found. I’ve read the posts on her wall, each one was a testimony to her love for God and love for others. They were each an encouragement to me, as I face the future without her friendship.
I met Michelle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was finishing up her degree in teaching at Marquette University. She became a christian her freshman year in college when another college student named Mary Kay shared with her how she could have a relationship with God. Michelle never got over the wonder that the Creator of the Universe wanted her so much that He left all the glory of heaven, took on the limits of human flesh, suffered and died for her. Her God was an intensely personal, loving, consuming God.
Michelle got involved with Cru, and was discipled by Margaret Yu for two years. When Margaret left Milwaukee, I came as the Cru staff woman, and I met Michelle.
Michelle and I had one semester together before she left to do her student teaching. Honestly, when we reconnected 3 years ago, I had very vague memories of her. I knew that I knew her—but I didn’t remember many of the details.
She told me that I had a sleepover party where we stayed up all night talking, and she told me the story of her relationship with her Dad. I looked at her and asked, “Have you forgiven him?” She said this question sent her on a 10 year journey of asking herself that same question? (I am now a parent of adult children—and believe me when I say—one could be the very best parent one could be, and there would be a need for a child to forgive a parent, just as there is a need for a parent to forgive a child.)
When we reconnected, Michelle told me about her cancer. I had lost a very good friend to cancer before this—my best friend in fact—and it was agony for me. My heart was broken, my grief overwhelming. I had also lost my dad. I knew what it was to grieve—and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to get all that close to Michelle. She would be hard to resist.. She asked great questions, she listened, she cared, she laughed, she had depth and spiritual discernment. What more could you ask for from a friend?
Two weeks after we reconnected, my son Sean was killed when he was out on a training bike ride. He was hit by a car.
Michelle ran to help me. She entered into my suffering. I don’t know how else to describe what she did. She sent me a book that she heard about on a radio show. She said the Holy Spirit told her to send me this book. It was called, LAMENT FOR A SON,… It was a father’s journal that he wrote after losing his son in a mountain climbing accident. One of the things that he said that resonated with me was, “If someone is worth loving than they are worth grieving.”
She sent me a CD of worship songs. We wrote back and forth to each other on a consistent basis.
She suffered with me. I do not know how else to describe it. She wasn’t afraid of suffering. She did not avoid the pain.
This is quite amazing to me because I would have avoided the pain of her suffering, if not for my own. And honestly, if she had not been suffering, I would not have let her enter into mine. Other friends had tried to enter into my suffering, and share this pain, but my walls were high, my barriers strong.
When scripture talks about sharing in Jesus’ suffering for the sake of His church, I think I finally know what that means. I have experienced Michelle sharing in my suffering, and these last months of her life, I have been privileged to enter into her suffering.
One of Michelle’s greatest prayers, is that God’s people would be fully surrendered to our Lord. I know that fear is what keeps me from surrendering. Fear of pain, fear of suffering. “When you face the thing you’ve always feared, you learn you have nothing to fear, for God is with you through it all.” This is a direct quote of my friend, Becky Crain, when she found out she had stage 4 breast cancer when she was 5 months pregnant. She entered into eternity when her baby was 4 months old.
All my life I have tried to escape from pain and suffering. God has used Michelle to show me how to face it, even embrace it. Knowing her has helped me grieve for my son, and all the other losses in my life; and oddly, it will even help me as I grieve for her. Also, I have finally experienced the truth of what Becky was trying to tell me all those years ago. “When you face the thing you’ve always feared, you learn you have nothing to fear, for God is with you through it all.”
May We Be Encouraged
I dedicate this song to my son Sean James Stanton
June 25, 1997, to September 17, 2013
One Day, Sean James. One Day!!!
(LYRICS) One day there’ll be no more waiting left for our souls
One day there’ll be no more children longing for home
One day when the kingdom comes Right here where we stand
We will see the promised land
One day there’ll be no more lives taken too soon
One day there’ll be no more need for a hospital room
One day every tear that falls will be wiped by His hand
We will see the promised land
There will be healing
From this heartbreak We’ve been feeling
We’ll sing in the darkest night
Cause we know that the light will come
And there will be healing Hallelujah
One day there’ll be no more anger left in our eyes
One day the color of our skin won’t cause a divide
One day we’ll be family standing hand in hand
And we will see the promised land
We will see the promised land
One day every knee will bow every tongue will confess
One day when our tired and weary bones find their rest
One day when the power of evil is brought to an end
We will see the promised land
The Gift of Sean
This week is Sean’s birthday. I have been remembering special moments of his life. I have been laughing and I have been crying. Right now, I am crying.
However, I will not let the tears stop me from remembering and rejoicing in the gift of Sean.
I was reminded today, that after Sean died—I almost did let the tears stop me from living—from embracing God, from embracing life. I went through a “crisis of faith”.
But I don’t really want to talk about that—I have written about that in the past—in Today–September 17, 2019, and Dear Family and Friends and Peace Baby, Peace.
Today I want to write about Sean. I want to share stories of Sean with you all. Each time I do, I get to relive those memories, and “see” Sean again, in my mind’s eye. So here goes….
Sean was my third child; Sean was a younger brother to two brothers and a big brother to two sisters. He was my middle child– with blonde hair and green eyes. I had two children– a boy and a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, and two children– a boy and a girl with brown hair and green eyes. Sean—my middle child, had blonde hair and green eyes.
Sean had a sensitive soul, right from the beginning. We were driving down to the hospital from our home, (it was an hour away), I was deeply in labor—sure I was going to deliver by the side of the road—yelling at my husband to hurry, and my husband yelling back at me, that he was hurrying as fast as he could—when all of a sudden, the labor stopped, just stopped.
It did not start again, for a week. This time, we calmly went down to the hospital, with me rubbing my tummy saying, “It’s okay, you can come out, no one is going to yell.”
Sean always hated yelling and fighting. He would calmly share this, whenever there was tension and yelling in the house. Although, even while I’m writing this, I am remembering Sean, provoking fights. He could push buttons in other people, like nobody else!
Sean also had really, really, good manners and social skills. (I taught all my children about manners—but I did not really have to teach Sean—he just knew things instinctually.) Other moms used to tell me, “We love to have Sean over, he has such great manners, and he is such a great influence on my child.”
Other children looked up to Sean and followed his lead. When he was in Royal Rangers, (a Christian boy scout group)—he was elected by the other boys as their patrol leader, over and over again. When he went up to the next level, the level his older brother was in—he used his influence with the other boys, to get his older brother elected—something that had not happened, until Sean came into the group.)
Sean and his brother used to invite their friends over for airsoft games. They would run through the woods near our home, playing their games. Sean was fearless and relentless in this game. He looked like one of the Power Rangers, he used to watch and try to emulate when he was little, out there playing this game.
Sometimes I imagine him up in heaven, leading a platoon of angels into spiritual battle, whirling and spinning, and dodging—winning the day! Just my little flights of fancy. 🙂
Anyway, the last summer before Sean died, he seemed more aware of living life to the fullest and including everyone in his summer. We were taking him and his friends to an amusement park to celebrate his birthday, and his sister’s birthday was coming up as well, so he asked if she could bring a friend with her as part of the celebration.
When we went out East to the Beach house, he insisted that everyone join in the games at the pool. I was exhausted, and just wanted to stay sunning myself and reading my books, but he would not take no for an answer. Those games were some of the last memories I have of Sean and the rest of my family frolicking and playing together in the water.
When Sean was a little, little guy, 3 or 4 years old, he would tell me that someday, he was going to die, and I would tell him, “No, not for a long time, and I will die first and I will be waiting for you in heaven.” But he would insist, “No Mommy, I am going to die first.”
Sometimes, when I look at that summer, and how Sean “lived” to the fullest and abundantly, I wonder if he “knew” as he seemed to know when he was little, that his time on this earth was coming to an end.
I know he really wanted to spend time with his brothers and sisters, his family and his friends. One of our most delightful memories was riding in the van with his best friends and his sisters, coming back from the amusement park, and listening to those boys, laughing, and joking. They were so, so funny. I have never laughed quite so hard in my life. I knew when I was living in those moments, that those were some of life’s shining moments.
Since that time, I have seen these kids suffer, and their families suffer, and my kids suffer, and my family suffer. It was like a bomb went off in our lives. I have seen crises of faith– not just in my life, but in so many others. I would give anything to make it better. I would give anything to see the hurt healed.
This is how I know how terrible death is. Nothing can sugar coat it; nothing can stop the pain. But God, But God. But God……
God is the only One Who can. He died for each of us, two thousand years ago. He entered into our deaths, to give us life. Life eternally. Life abundantly. Life in the fullest.
Sean lived that full abundant life here on this earth. Sean is living the eternal life.
After Sean’s death, a friend of ours told us that their daughter was confirmed in their church, and the daughter shared that she was doing this in part, because Sean was all about faith and family, and that is what she wanted her life to be about as well.
Sean was all about faith and about family—and if you were his friend, you were a part of the family.
So– I thank God for the gift of Sean, for the gift of his life, and for the gift of eternal life!!
“….Death, where is your victory, Death where is your sting?….but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Cor 15:55, 57
Praying for this truth to take hold of all those reading this and if you are in a crisis of faith, I am praying for you…..May you be encouraged!!