Saddleback Church co-founder and best-selling author Kay Warren wished her late son, Matthew, a "happy birthday in Heaven" on Tuesday, four years after he took his life following a long struggle with mental illness. He would have been 32.
"Happy Birthday in Heaven, Matthew. I wish I was making you biscuits and gravy for birthday breakfast like I did on your 8th birthday or organizing your birthday party with friends later in the day," she wrote in a post on Facebook with a photo of her departed son as a child.
She explained that she and her husband, Rick, who lead Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, spent the day honoring Matthew's memory.
"I watched a butterfly merrily fluttering around your headstone at the cemetery, played your favorite Five Iron Frenzy album on my phone and reminisced with Daddy about the day you were born. We have conflicting memories of your birth — he says I was delirious and therefore not a reliable witness — all I know is I was SO happy to welcome you to our family," she recalled.
"For the next 27 years you made us laugh, you made us cry. Today we're cheering each other up with Matthew stories, sayings and songs — who could forget your classic song 'I'm naked under my clothes?' Oh, Buddy......your mama is missing you! I can't wait to hug you tightly and kiss your face again. Yet....celebrating with you the life that is truly life. I love you. Mom," she ended.
On April 5, 2013, the Christian community was shocked when news broke that Matthew Warren, then 27, had fatally shot himself after a long and private struggle with mental illness that was only made public after his death.
Although some Christians still think suicide bars people from entrance into Heaven, Kay Warren, a Bible teacher who has grown into a mental health advocate since her son's death, firmly believes that Matthew's salvation is "safe and secure."
"God's promised us that Matthew's salvation was safe and secure. Matthew gave his life to Jesus when he was a little boy. And so, I'm absolutely 100 percent confident based on the work of Jesus that Matthew is in Heaven," Warren explained in an earlier interview with The Christian Post.
"I had a very fragile hope when Matthew was alive. I wanted things that I couldn't control. I wanted him to be well. I wanted him to be healed. I wanted him to live a normal life like his brother and his sister, and like most people that I see. Like we do," Warren explained.
"I wanted so much for Matthew and almost every bit of it was outside my control. And so my hope was fragile. I couldn't guarantee it. And since Matthew has passed away I've had to rebuild hope into something that is more durable, and I'm coming to appreciate that certain hope that Rick talks about," she continued.
"I have a certain hope that God will make all things right and He will rebuild the ruins of our lives. I'm absolutely certain that I will join Matthew in Heaven because Jesus is alive. I'm gonna live. Those are things that are absolutely certain. I don't have any doubt over them. And so my hope is stronger than it ever has been," she said.