when Skys are grey

Suicide is real–and I sure wish it wasn’t. It pierces like none other; It leaves you speechless and furious and battered and somehow numb all at once. Sometimes, its snares catch one of the most alive sisters you know. Suicide caught my Skylar–but it couldn’t keep her down forever. My God’s always good–He’ll write a tragedy of one to bring hundreds to their knees in surrender. He breathes mercy. He is Light. He just wants us Home. The work of His cross is finished–and way back when, He took even last-second sins of believers and washed them white. We’ve got to throw out the suicide theology of this mad world and stare deep into a gospel that’s sweet and plain simple. For those who have tasted salvation: there is no exception, no undoing, no Grace take-backs. No sin is unforgivable, no power of hell or scheme of man wins. Skylar Grace: you are Home and you are robed in pure sunshine and you are enthroned right where you belong. Can’t wait to hug you once I’m There.

A tribute to my sunflower friend:

The enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy. I, in manufactured, foolish pride, say that lightly. Sure, he distorts and he distracts and he whispers fabrication as I invite him to keep doing so, but I’m of tough skin and handmade walls. I pretend he can’t get to me. I’m convinced I’m untouchable.

But the Lord chose Job. To prove the enemy yet again the underdog, God chose a man esteemed, righteous, faithful, adored. He let Satan take shots, aim his bow at Job’s fame and his household and his harvest. Job was stripped of children and fortune, comfort and company. When all was robbed of him, still Job fell to the dust in raw worship. The desperate kind, where your soul screams and the tears don’t stop coming and the only way out of the dust is to look up high. Satan had to be furious as faithful Job stood when his world flipped in circles. But the Lord still chose Job. So the enemy entered Job’s now-desolate world; only this time, he went straight for the flesh. He took the target itself and chipped at his skin, at his bones, at his sanity. Satan drove Job to despair, until he questioned, whined, wept, picked at his boiled flesh, worshiped, and eventually until he began to wish away his lowercase-l life.

Skylar too was esteemed, righteous, faithful, adored. But the Lord chose Sky. And for what has to be divinely intended, He let Satan straight to the target. He chipped at her joy, at her gentleness, at her sanity. He stole parts of her, aged her, flustered her simplicity, corralled a free spirit. Satan drove Sky to despair, until she questioned, worried, wept, picked at a depressed mind, worshiped, and eventually until she really wished away her lowercase-l life. The enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy. How dare I say that lightly.

But Grace. Always but Grace. Grace doesn’t just quit at the deathbed. To reject life, yet receive Life doesn’t make sense. But Grace. Grace is a foolish thing—beautiful in all its nonsense. Grace won’t let a scheme of man or the power of hell take what’s not theirs. Thank goodness Grace is irrational, and sure to claim any victim that recognizes His face. Sky knew Grace; Sky was saved by it. So I can only imagine the kind of Life she arrived to. The promised capital-L Life must be the best type of Welcome Home.

And who says 22 years isn’t long enough here? She sure lived and loved the whole while, sure lived and loved like we were made to. 22 years of this race, she just beat us Home. And who says she shouldn’t have gone out this way? The Lord chose Skylar. Esteemed, righteous, faithful, adored. To shame the happiest, the ignorant, the prideful must-be untouchables, that even a Skylar—when the enemy hits—can fall to that kind of low. To wake up the loneliest, the prodigal, the anxiety-struck “okay” pretenders, that even a last-breath sin is Grace-covered. To assemble 35 post-grad pledge sisters from all parts of this state in Skylar’s Tyler together, to squeeze the hand next to us and fall to the dust in raw worship. The desperate kind, where your soul screams and the tears don’t stop coming and the only way out of the dust is to look up high.

And the Sky was anything but grey.

He painted the skies that day just like she’d like them—clouds floating slow, steady, never quite big enough to wholly veil the sun. God calls us to move forward. From our knees in a Tyler chapel down interstates back to the place we came from. Slow, steady. For Sky’s sake we won’t dare sulk, or sit lifeless in our tears, or attempt to picture threadbare stranger-Sky that last week suggests. She’d no way want that. We’ll remember our Skylar.

I’ll remember free Skylar, windows-down Skylar. Skylar who would listen—really listen—and hang on to your every detail and hang on to the spot on your arm just above your elbow, real tight. Skylar meek and inquisitive, adamant about obedience, sure to follow her Rabbi wherever He took her. I’ll remember Skylar the cross-carrier, quick to pick yours up to stack atop hers. I’ll remember silly Skyler, prone to nose-squint smile and tiptoe and echo infectious laughs down the hall. Skylar the people-magnet, a graceful companion to every corner of this patchwork pledge class. Skylar, your legacy’s of laughs and big hugs and, oh my stars, it’s of Grace. I’m chasing my someday, Sky!


Skylar Grace Standefer
November 30, 1991 – August 30, 2014

Abba, You win. You always win—and there’s got to be good in this. You comfort those all cried out, You envelop the lacking, You fill the space she left behind. You always win—and there’s got to be good in this. Save souls by her story. Tug hearts of the secret-hurting and the okay-pretending, break the so-called untouchables until we wake up quick. You always win—and there’s got to be good in this. Thanks for saving her, for robing her in real live righteousness and celebrating her capital-L life. Your Grace is my most favorite.

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