“Have you ever lost anyone to suicide?” I asked the young man sitting across from me. I didn’t know him, but I knew I had to ask because his face was so intent when I was telling Tristan’s story. I didn’t know this young man. In fact, I wasn’t even supposed to be here.

We were at a snow camp that our good friends Jerad and Wanda were involved in and I was along just to get out of the house. This young man had stopped by to see his mom who happened to be sitting at our table. She was on staff and he had just dropped in to say hello.

I was immediately drawn to his blue eyes that sparkled like Tristan’s, and his sunshine personality that Tristan use to have before depression stole it all away.

It turns out that this young man had lost two friends to suicide, one was his roommate just 2 months ago. It had impacted him so deeply that it was enough to break his sobriety and he confessed as much to our table. I suddenly knew why I was at this snow camp. I felt compelled like only the Holy Spirit can compel a person.

But first I had to ask him a question. “Do you want to stop using?” This was important because what I was about to propose was precious to me and I didn’t want to squander it.

When he said yes I could see the shame and desperation in his eyes.

“I have an idea then.” The table looked at me in expectation. “I miss my boy every day but I can’t pray for him anymore because he’s in heaven. He’s healed and doesn’t need my prayers. But I think about him all of the time, multiple times a day. So now, every time I think of Tristan, I will pray for you, instead.”

By this time tears were coming down my face and then the whole table was crying. This guy was so thankful, he grabbed my hand and held it. His mom mouthed the words “Thank you” and sent me a hug from across the table. But God wasn’t done yet.

I felt strongly like I needed to know his middle name.  It was such a random request, but God had me ask it because He knew there was more to be done here. His mom then broke into the story of how he was the only one of her three sons without a middle name.

What I didn’t know is that my friend Wanda was thinking the same thing I was thinking, he needs something of Tristan’s.

“When you get clean,” I told him, “whenever it is you get sober, whether it’s a month or a year from now I would like you to have Tristan’s middle name. It will help you to be accountable and never go back because you  will be a new person. Like Simon became Peter, and Saul became Paul, I changed my name from Missy back to Melissa when Tristan died because I knew my life would never be the same. “

“What was his name?” he asked with a hint of trepidation. I could tell he didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into. What if it was a weird name? He shared with us later.

“Scott,” I said. “Tristan Scott”.

He tried it on for size with his own name. It sounded great. Like a rapper’s name, it was cool! We stood up to get a picture together and hugged goodbye.

I sat back down knowing why God had me there that day. And later I realized that in those moments the crushing pain that February brings had momentarily lifted. Tristan’s story was being used by God for greater purposes. And I hoped maybe that means I can be pain-free during any moments like this that come up in the future.

Whatever the case, whether I’m pain free or not, that young man has been prayed for already about 20 times today, and it’s only 1:16 in the afternoon. All on a Saturday when I wasn’t supposed to be there but God sovereignly made sure that I was.