Last weekend, A friend and former coworker that I have known for 13 years passed away. I saw on Facebook that he had died, but not how. He was only ten years older than me, so I knew that his death, however it occurred, had to have been tragic. So I googled his name and date of death, not expecting to find anything.

But I did.

First, a little background: I worked at the same company for 13 years, starting when I was 16 years old – through the second half of high school and all of college, and then continuing with them after college. I stayed on to do their human resources from home for four more years after I had Ali, and just resigned this past December upon the addition of my second kid.

(I also do Chris’ company’s accounting from home, so two kids, two jobs, and three blogs was a bit too much to handle.)

I had practically grown up at that company, so it was like breaking up with my family to leave, but I knew that for my kid’s sakes, it had to be done.

This friend worked at that company before I did, so I met him when I was 16. He was ridiculously tall and quite dashingly handsome. We had a lot of fun together – always joking and having rubber band shooting wars across the cubicle aisles. I gave him a terribly hard time, and he did the same back to me. After I got married, his favorite thing to do was to repeatedly announce in his unbelievably loud voice,


On days where he didn’t feel like his voice carried far enough for the whole office to hear (which in reality it always did), he’d make the announcement via intercom, yelling it into his telephone set.

(He often had his intercom privileges revoked.)

“My” announcement was made at least once a month in the office, as well as at every awards banquet, company party, or company event for five years.

So naturally, when I did get pregnant with Ali, I let him make the announcement.

And naturally, no one believed him.

The last time I saw him was in November shortly before I resigned – I had stopped by the office, quite pregnant with Noah, and so in his thunderous voice, he shouted,


We had a fun, surface-level friendship, but I knew that he had his struggles. He was a torn person. He desired to live a holy life, but was broken from hurts of his past. He tried to run from himself and find peace, once even setting off on an indeterminably long RV trip around the country.

But his struggles didn’t define him. He was kind, charismatic, gentle, and loving. He once fell off of Shades Crest (a steep mountainside that he lived on) to save his falling dog, who was incidentally named Ali.

(Yes, he did accuse me of naming my child after his dog. And no, I didn’t.)

He cared deeply for his family, his friends, and obviously, his dog.

So when I found this article Friday night, I was devastated for him and his family.

The picture alone broke my heart. I didn’t recognize him – there was barely a shadow of the handsome, charismatic man that I’d known for nearly half my life, and had just seen a few months ago.

Of course, I didn’t know he had those particular struggles, and so it was a lot to take in at once – his death, his federal fugitive status, his attempted crime… it was unbelievably overwhelming.

Yet over all of the emotions I felt, compassion for his broken and hurting heart overtook me.

Yes, his attempted crime was horrible. Absolutely, he deserved to have consequences. Yes, I was shocked and upset. But more than that, I hurt because I knew how badly he must have hurt. And that he never got the opportunity to have victory over his pain in this life.

I made the mistake of reading the comments on the article, knowing that many people that comment on news articles say terribly heinous things.

And although it hurt to read their hateful words about the man that I knew and they didn’t, I was actually surprised that I wasn’t surprised by them.

Because if I’m being honest, had I not been friends with him for over a decade and that article was all I ever knew of him, I am ashamed to say that I might have had some of those same thoughts. I would have never written them, but I would have most definitely passed my judgement on the situation.

And so I found myself, screeching to a halt, and faced with the reality of my own sin: judgementalism.

I knew this person. I knew his heart. I knew his struggles. And I knew his hurts. So I didn’t judge him like I had so harshly done to others in the past.

I knew that he was a man who devotedly loved his mother, father, and brother, and his friends. I knew that he loved God and desperately tried to live for Christ. I knew that he fought hard to overcome his struggles. I knew that he was a real, live, loving human being – not at all the monster that people were assuming he was (and that I might have assumed had I not known him).

And so I felt my objective outlook beginning to crumble…

If HE was human, and if HE was just another hurting person, then so are all of those other people that I’ve just written off in the past as lost causes.

Who am I to judge someone’s heart?

They all are someone’s cherished little boy or girl.

And many of them probably struggled against their sins and fought to overcome them just like my friend did. They are all deserving of the same compassion that I had in my heart for my friend, and I had not given it.

That was a hard pill to swallow.

We all have our issues. We all have our struggles. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. And we are all loved by God, despite ourselves. And so we are called to love each other, not to judge.

I certainly hope that I do better at this in the future.

Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Matthew 7:1-2 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Please be in prayer for his family during this incomparably difficult time.

64 thoughts on “A Deeply Personal Note.

  1. Rachel, so beautifully written. Heartbreaking, as you said. Thank you for being so open in a world where we close up so much and simply rush to judge. God Bless, Lindsay.

    1. Thank you, Lindsay.
      It was a hard post to write – I knew it left a lot of room for possible miscommunication, so I really appreciate your encouragement.

  2. Beautiful Rachel! I was hit by the same realization after reading a blog posting about the killing of Usama bin Laden. How God loved him even though he was a terrorist and that his heart is breaking for his death. Wow! What great love God has that he died even for a terrorist! Very humbling!!

    1. Yes, so true. That’s a perfect example of, even though it doesn’t make sense nor is easy, we are called to love, not gloat in death.

  3. Rachel – your post was so beautifully written. I am sad to read of your friend. I will say that I struggle with the same thing but you have opened my eyes to see that people who I might easily judge are someone’s son, daughter, mom, dad, or friend. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. Beautifully written. I’ve had to come face to face with that same realization, because of the lifestyle my own 2 brothers embraced for so many years. While not on that level, they did cast their lot with those I would normally turn my back on. One brother has now been set free here on earth, choosing to live for God and being delivered from all of that, but one brother took his life because of those struggles and oppression (and is now forever free with Jesus because he did give his life to Him back in Sept). Rusty’s suicide has changed my perspective even more. These friends of his aren’t just “bums”. They’re lost, hurting people who have not had someone reach out to them with the love of Christ. And I may be the only Jesus they will ever see.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss but rejoice with you in Rusty’s salvation and the certainty that you will see him again! I hope that others were changed through his death so that they can find victory on this side of the grave like Darrell did.

  5. I am so sorry Rachel about your friend’s death. I think once you have children you think differently about things. It was terrible what he did and believe me, I would not be able to handle it if it was done to one of my children, but at one time he was someone’s little baby who they rocked to sleep at night.

    1. You are right – it does change things to hold an innocent, adorable baby and know that EVERYONE was that baby at one time, being held by their mother.

  6. And for those reasons that’s why I couldn’t “celebrate” Bin Laden’s death. Of course, I didn’t know him personally, but still, who am I to judge?

    Also, I live in St. Petersburg, FL and read that story in the news. So saddened by that terrible outcome.

  7. Wow, Powerful post, Rachel. Thank you for your honesty. I would have had the exact same reaction as you in both circumstances– if I had known him as a friend or judged him as a stranger.

    Such a sad story. My heart aches for him and what he must have faced throughout his life.

    Praying for his friends and family that loved him.

  8. Rachel, I am so proud to be related to you. I know that your parents are proud of you too. What you say here is true, it IS the Gospel. thank you

  9. The hardest thing in my life is trying not to judge someone who harms a child or an old person. Yes, I try to remember not to judge lest I be judged. The person who I am angry at is whoever put this man through such turmoil and no telling what in his past. His whole life was probably a struggle because of what he had been through. I read the comments and I sure do not want to be the one judging others, I am very happy to leave that to our Jesus. I am very sorry for the loss of your friend and person you knew so differently. I will pray for his family as they have to go through this. This is a very beautiful tribute and lesson for all. Thanks.

  10. I had a similar experience with news commenters when my cousin Kyser was murdered last year. He was at no fault (he was killed during a robbery attempt in his home), but the commenters were out in force. Their main complaint was that he was a privileged, young, white male, and they were angry that his case was given so much media attention. Unfortunately, the comments were completely unconstructive and very hurtful to the family.

    Hurting for you as you process this loss.

    1. Yes, I don’t think commenters think about the people who might see their comments. So sad! I’m so sorry you had to endure that.

  11. Oh Rachel, my heart hurts for you and for everyone that loved your friend. I get so bogged down in judgment, both judging others then judging myself for judging others. Thank you for sharing this very personal story with us. :)

  12. This was so touching. A wonderful reminder to us to keep a check on our judgement of others. Thank you for sharing with us. Prayers going up for his family and friends.

  13. Rachel, I am feeling very sad for you today, that must of been hard for you to have read that article about someone who you knew in a different light.

  14. Rachel, this is such a beautifully raw and honest post. I, too, am guilty of judging others. I, too, would have judged this man if I had read the article and not known him personally. Thank you for the reminder that we are all sons and daughters of Christ and none of us have any right to judge.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I struggle often with it, and unfortunately, I probably still will. I only hope I can do better in the future.

  15. I would have to say that I am also too quick to judge…it’s always easier to judge others when the things they struggle with are different than the ones I struggle with. But like you said, we ALL struggle. I’m sorry for your loss.

  16. Rachel – You’re right, it’s absolutely too easy to look at a situation as black and white, and it rarely is. As humans, we are all fallible; that is, in fact, what makes us human. My prayers are with you and all of the people who loved him, were hurt by him and those who wrongfully stand in judgment of him now.

  17. Thanks for posting this. What a good reminder. You are completely right. I am too quick to judge people in these types of news stories, but there is so much more going on there. The first and foremost of which is that they are God’s child and I am no better. Thanks for putting that into words.

  18. Rachel, this is such a sad situation. I am sorry that you are hurting over this, and I have been in a very similar situations with people I knew growing up. My heart certainly hurts for this man’s family and all who loved him as well. It is hugely humbling to be reminded that no matter how large our sins are, we can still be forgiven of them when we humble ourselves before God and ask for His forgiveness. Makes me think of Saul/Paul. So many people feel as if they’ve gotten themselves too far deep into sin to ever get out, but as you know, that is not true. I hope peace will come with time.

  19. Rachel
    This has so been on my heart the last few weeks. I lost my very best friend to suicide -or accident- we’re not sure, two weeks ago. Already I have heard people I know and respect make comments that appalled me. I have to hope that I was never so callous about someone that I didn’t know well. You know the saying, if you can’t say something nice, keep your mouth shut. I will pray for your friend’s family and the heartache they are going through.

    1. Oh Terri, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. AND so sorry that people are so cruel when someone passes away! That’s so sad. I will be praying for you!

  20. Rachel, what an unbelievably beautiful tribute to Will. The man that you described is the man I choose to remember; fun loving, spiritual, fiercely loyal to his family and friends. His loud voice and towering physique demanded your attention, and you were glad you gave it to him when you were rewarded with that mischievous grin and twinkle in his eyes. Recalling your “pregnancy announcements” made me smile a little and hurt a lot for the void that has been left behind in the lives of his friends and family. I’ll continue to pray for all the hearts that he touched.

  21. these situations always make me re-evaluate the way i define love… the grace i fail to extend to others but also the grace i refuse to extend to myself….. it also reminds me that words can hurt or heal… i always want to live on the heal side but so often do not… you are so genuine rachel… i love that.

  22. Well said. We all need to remember that God loves everyone of us the same, in spite if our sin – not just those whose lives are neat & tidy.

  23. Rachel, as said before, that is beautifully written and appreciate your kind words of a dear friend. I grew up with him and was my best friend in school and would have never thought he would have been involved in something like this. I lost track of him a few years ago and when I refound him, I noticed a change in his demeanor and he shut me out of his life (which I am beginning to understand now), but I will never forget (using your words) his kindness and charismatic spirit. He will be deeply missed by ALL of his family and friends FOREVER.

  24. I am so very sorry for your loss, Rachel. So sorry. This was such a beautifully written to all of us, who judge. We all do, whether we want to admit it or not. But it is also through our life lessons, and sometimes lessons at the expense of others we learn. We learn abotu compassion, humility, growth. And this post is a beautiful example and reminder of that. You , his friends and his family…are all in my prayers.

  25. Rachel: This was a well-written article that showed that beneath what acts we commit, we are still human at the end of the day. Too often, we are quick to judge without ever thinking (or knowing) what a person went through to get where they were. This is a tragic story.

  26. Ditto to the whole thing. This is what I wish for many to realize; we as human forget to see someone for what they have struggled through. Life happens to many we have known.

  27. Hi. I used to be a licensed therapist before I had children. I worked with preadolescent and adolescent male sexual offenders in Birmingham. This post stirred many memories of my growth as a therapist, working with perpetrators. Sexual offending is a very complicated matter. Most people couldn’t believe I would work with such a population. You have empathy Rachel. Embrace it. Keep growing. Great post.

  28. Rachel, thank you so much for your kind words about Will. He was my much loved nephew. Will was a gentle, loving person who was charming and funny! I miss him more than I can say. Will’s ONLY CRIME was to try to help a young boy on-line. He did not seduce anyone, or hurt anyone. He was entrapped in an on-line FBI Sting by an FBI agent posing as a 13 yr. old boy about to commit suicide. He was arrested and pleaded not guilty. He was granted bond and was awaiting trial at his mother’s home, when he decided to run instead. On Thursday, May 26th he was brutally murdered in his apartment in St. Petersburg by the US Marshalls and the local police dept. He was shot four times IN THE BACK, with absolutely no warning. They surrounded his apartment and shot him through the window…….a small 10×12 studio apartment, now with over 30 bulletholes in it. His mother and I have just returned from viewing this apartment.
    The absolutely only good thing in this is that WE KNOW Will is in heaven where he wanted desperately to be. Will loved his Lord, and shared The Word, as he was trying to do when he was entrapped. Thank you for being Will’s friend.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Margaret. If that is the case, I certainly hope that justice can be found! I am praying for your family and will continue to do so!

  29. Deaqr Rachel,
    Rachel, I am Will Page’s mother and would love to talk with you. I so deeply appreciate your sincere heartfelt post about my wonderful son who would not harm a fly . It’s people like you and me and all of the others who posted positive comments that can make a difference in this mixed up world of our’s. Please e-mail me so we can talk further and thank God for using a wonderful person like you to speak up for my son who loved his Lord and Savior.

  30. Deaqr Rachel,
    Rachel, I am Will Page’s mother and would love to talk with you. I so deeply appreciate your sincere heartfelt post about my wonderful son who would not harm a fly . It’s people like you and me and all of the others who posted positive comments that can make a difference in this mixed up world of our’s. Please e-mail me so we can talk further and thank God for using a wonderful person like you to speak up for my son who loved his Lord and Savior.

  31. Hi Rachel,

    I’m the twitter-guy you followed to get to 667 :)

    To the relatives of the deceased above me in the comments, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    But I wanted to write a thank you to you Rachel. I’ve been a long-time lurker of your blog, but this post just yanked at my heart.

    It took my divorce, for reasons I’ve NEVER discussed publicly, for me to realize how judgemental I’ve been to people in the past, because now, as a pastor, husband, and father, people who I barely knew were calling me, out of the blue, to condemn me. The fact that I decided not to discuss my actions and decisions with them, gossip with them, if you will, was just cause in their minds for my condemnation.

    It left me bitter and angry, not at God, but at the poorly designed systems of churches to engender this type of behavior. I have worked and prayed and really even started to let it go.

    Your post is the most refreshing post I think I’ve ever read. Wonderful job. I’m so sorry it was founded in such a sad series of events, and I’m truly sorry that you lost a friend, but I pray that your stand against the judgementalism shown lends itself greatly to Will’s legacy.

    Love God, Love people; the rest is details . . .

    1. Thank you, Travis. I am so sorry for the way that people treated you – people can just be mean sometimes. And, unfortunately, we all are sometimes – even if we don’t say it, we think those same things. That’s what I came to realize – my judgmental thoughts were just as bad as those commenter’s judgmental words, and just as bad as the people who judged you. I really hope that I can grow in this area – and that we all can.

  32. Rachel, I appreciate your post. Will was my step-brother. His dad and my mom have been together for 20 years and married for 16. I never saw Will but maybe once or twice a year, because life happens and people get busy and we just never find or make the time to visit. (Which is sad because we feel guilty when we lose them.) Although our visits were mainly only on Thanksgiving night, it was like no time had passed and everything was as it should be. My brother was the same height as Will. We always laughed about how they could pass as brothers.

    All of this still feels surreal and like a horrible nightmare. I pray for our parents everyday that God will bring them peace. Again, thank you for your post. I feel you described him perfectly! When I read the part about him announcing your pregnancy, I could actually hear him yelling it! It made me laugh and cry. He also had a very loud and obnoxious laugh that I will hear forever. His laugh made everyone laugh!

    1. Missy,
      I am SO sorry for your family. I am praying for you all!!

      Yes, Will did have quite an infectious – and obnoxious – laugh!! I can still hear it, too.

      Thank you for your post!

  33. This makes me sad. I knew instantly who you were talking about and I didn’t know he passed away. He was such a sweet guy. I haven’t read the article yet.

  34. I read the article, and it breaks my heart. He was such a sweet man, I never would have thought he’d die the way he did. It saddens me.

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