The death of Robin Williams has touched me deeply. I know that I have not known him as family or as a close friend, but I did know him. I knew his wit. His energy. His sense of humor and his humanity.
Based on the comments that are flooding the social media channels and those being shared by those who did know him, it is obvious that he touched many lives, brightened many days, and brought glimpses of hope at desperate times.
And, that is what makes his passing all the more confusing. How could someone who seemed to live such a joyful and light-hearted existence publicly have been so desperate and heavy-hearted privately?
Please understand that I in no way want to dishonor Mr. Williams passing, but I believe that asking this question when referring to such a well-known figure may allow us to help many who are not as well known, but just as troubled.
Within moments of hearing that one of my favorite actors had taken his own life, a particular scripture began to replay itself over and over in my heard. Proverbs 14:13 says, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when laughter ends, the grief remains.” It speaks as of a mask of joy and laughter that can hide from the world internal grief, misery, and desperation. When wielded well, this mask can create such a strong-walled barrier that it can fool even those closest to you.
We know that Robin Williams was battling his personal demons of depression and insecurity, and that makes me incredibly sad, but it also begs the question, who else do you and I know that is struggling as well? Who do we know that is chipper on the outside but paralyzed internally? Who do we know that has been fighting in isolation for so long that they are about to give up?
I hate the fact that Robin felt he had not other course of action, but perhaps, if we become intentional we might be used by God to rescue someone around us who is careening towards a cliff.
Here are just a couple of thoughts:
• Ask God to make you more compassionate. As humans, we tend to be self-absorbed and self-obsessed. We tend to think about ourselves more than others, but what the world needs is for us to live and act compassionately to those around us. Compassion can be engrained in someone from birth…truthfully some people are more compassionate than others. Compassion can also be a discipline and learned behavior…and, sometimes God can change our heart, open our eyes to the struggle of others, and birth in us a compassion that is greater than we have known previously. If we begin to ask God to make us more compassionate, I have no doubt, He will do just that.
• Pay close attention to those around you. People who keep their eyes and ears open will notice the people around them who are struggling. Sometimes it will come in the form of expressing frustration with circumstances. Other times it will not be expressed but it will be observed. If someone seems to be stuck in a pattern of disappointment and brokenness, that person needs a friend. If you are paying attention, you can be a timely and potentially life-saving friend.
• Lovingly break through walls of isolation. Misery incubates in isolation. When someone withdraws, shuts the proverbial doors, rejects all incoming light, their hopelessness can grow into a monster that that can be difficult to defeat. Without being abrasive and pushy, we must not allow those we care about to isolate themselves. We must not let them hide in their dark corner. Instead we must insert ourselves and bear their burdens. Invite them out for coffee…or better yet, bring some ice cream to their house and spend time with them. Your relentless friendship can absorb some of their pain and lift some of their load.
• Ask great questions and listen. Many people give up seeking help because they have found people uncaring and unwilling to listen. Through your questions you can help them process their situation and find solutions and by listening you communicate that you really do care. People who find themselves in desperate cycles feel like a broken record and don’t want to burden their friends, but if you are willing to engage them in true relationship you can help them cross the bridge from paralyzed desperation to hopeful progress.
• Be a voice of encouragement and hope. We all need someone to remind us that things are going to get better, people who are weary from battle need it more than any of us. As you remind them that they are in a season of challenge but it will get better, you are acting as God’s mouthpiece speaking life into their weary soul. Tell them you care about them. Tell them you are there for them. Tell them you are praying for them. Words are powerful…the voices that they have been listening to are shouting about everything that is not right…you voice can bring balance.
• Talk to God about them and talk to them about God. As much as we love these people, there is One who loves them more. Although we want to help them dig out of their pit, there is One who wants that even more. God is on their side. He does see their pain and He does hear their cries. He is capable and loving and He wants to offer joy where there has been mourning and peace where there has been turmoil. If you know someone who is in a desperate place, take some time to talk to God about them and make sure you take some time to tell them that Jesus Cares about them. He hurts for the brokenhearted. He has compassion for the helpless.
Every time I hear of one who ends their life because of hopeless desperation, it saddens me but also reminds me of those around me that are hurting and confused. Robin William’s situation is very similar. As I pray for his family, I also pray that God would lead me to others who need to know that there is hope, there is healing, and there is love.
Together we can help those who are hurting and rescue those who are lost.
If you, or someone you know needs to speak with someone who will listen, encourage, and offer a godly perspective, people are standing by right now at http://www.jesuscares.com.