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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Deep Waters

I've written my incomplete, raw thoughts, and I struggled with whether to post them.

Much has been written about Robin Williams' death this week, as though hurt and depression were new. When someone rich, famous, funny, and talented commits suicide, we say, "such a waste" and "the world has lost a great talent", as though other suicides were not quite as wasteful, as though other lives were not so valuable. All of a sudden, the spotlight is on mental illness, and suicide, as though in a week, or a month it won't be relegated to a dim corner again. We become careful, and compassionate, as though by next year we won't be avoiding the eyes of someone we know suffers from depression because they make us uneasy. If mental illness makes us uncomfortable, we are no different from those who suffer; it makes them uncomfortable in their own skin.

I think the world's response to Robin Williams' death is understandable. We somehow feel as though we know Robin Williams, and so we are saddened by his loss. It's okay that the spotlight shines on this matter even if only for a short while because I believe with such exposure change happens. In previous eras if someone famous committed suicide, it was spoken of in almost hushed tones, or listed as accidental. There was a lot of shame attached to mental illness, and suicide, but thankfully things are slowly changing.

When I was younger, I overheard someone say of my brother, Paul "He's so weak!" "There is nothing to him--no backbone." I heard this or something like it more than once. I heard others imply that my parents failed. I guess because my brother was flawed. I felt shame, but I wanted to run at those people and scream. I didn't know what I'd scream; I did not have any words to describe what I felt. Today, I want to say, we are all flawed; we are all marked by a world of misdeeds.
Who of us has never felt small, or looked inward and cringed? Who has not lain awake at three am, sick with worry, or sick with regret? Who has never felt utterly alone at times? Who has never had moments of staving off words that tumble through our minds like water over a cataract, words like worthless, stupid, ugly, and useless? Imagine the loneliness lasting for weeks, months or years, and not being able to turn off those thoughts. Imagine your friends slowly disappearing. Imagine feeling like a burden to your family. Imagine, an inner ache so great you just want to take the surest way you know of to make it stop.

I understand not wanting to be around someone with a mental illness; it is no fun. Sometimes we feel as though we need to solve the "problem", but usually there isn't much we can do, except listen. Living with, or dealing with a friend or loved one who has a mental illness is exhausting. There are times when you just want that person to get better, and stop "whining". I've been there. When you feel exhausted, or overwhelmed there is no shame in taking a break. If you have a friend who is wearing you down, it is okay to ask them for a time-out. Caregivers, and friends need to take care of themselves too.

What about when the ache becomes so great that the person ends his or her own life? Suicide hurts. It smashes into you like a tidal wave, it knocks you off your feet, and you don't know which way is up. You come up grasping, gasping, and looking for somewhere solid to land only to find that someone has blotted out the sun. Those who offer warm arms, or even a warm handshake are islands of comfort, and scriptures like "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" are sparks of light.

O The deep, deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o'er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!


Lost in an endless ocean.
Tired of treading water.
Waves whispering, give in.
Gulls screaming, give up.
Black clouds rumbling, get lost.
The deep calling out, find peace and rest.

My comfort is that he indeed found peace and rest deep in Jesus arms.