Come to me all ye who are weary & heavy laden and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
This week, the world lost one of its most beloved entertainers, Robin Williams. I have read media comments and listened as voices ranted on about his drug addiction and his sometimes outrageous behavior, all sandwiched between throngs of praise for his work in comedy. Most of us continued our daily routine pausing to write a brief RIP on Facebook. Or leave a “so sad” Comment. But did we pause to contemplate a clown so sad? Did you linger long enough to honestly lean into another’s pain and say, “I was deeply affected.”
Of course, I have never met the man Robin Williams. It is like the old show, that after some inquiry from a panel, the host said, “Will the real Robin Williams please stand up. You and I have no inkling of the pain that drove him to suicide. Were we to meet him we would have no idea of the bleeding of his heart, the moment by moment torturous tearing at his spirit which ultimately left him dangling lifeless from the ceiling. So why should we be affected? Well, may I ask you a question to ponder this week, “Who are the Robin Williams in your life? Are you surrounded by cheery Christians who radiate joy? Have you really lingered close enough to hear their sorrow? All of us, deep down, are burdened at some level by pain. An old song goes, “There’s a world out there, don’t you hear them crying? There’s a world out there, don’t you see them dying.”
Listen to some sobering statistics: In 1998, suicide took the lives of over 30,000 Americans and was the 8th leading cause of death. Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression, although some say these stats are misleading as men are more likely to try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. And as Christians, we are called to love like Christ. “Come to me, all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” How can we give rest to the distraught? By being real. By being brave enough to say, “I’ve been hurt too; let me hold your hand while you cry.” We can’t heal another’s pain, but we can be salve on the wound. The dictionary describes salve as something that soothes or heals; a balm. To ease the distress or agitation. Let us begin this moment to be real, to lower the mask and allow other’s into our sacred space. We are called to be healers. Please take this sacred task seriously. Another’s life may depend on our authenticity; our willingness to step outside ourselves and into their pain—even for just the moment.
Come to me, my friend, I’m listening,