Robin Williams, the Legend + Thoughts on Suicide

News of the beloved comedian’s death flooded social media Monday night.

No one likes to hear of a life cut short by suicide. There is no scripted response to rely on in times like this. There is just pain.

I’ve skimmed over a lot of discussions happening on the subject of suicide. I noticed a trend. The secular feed read of condolences and memories, tears, and testaments of impact. On the “Christian” end, I read statements like, ” Too bad he’s in hell.”

Really. Did God die and put us in charge? Sarcasm yes, but honestly I’m starting to realize why I would stay away from Christians if I wasn’t one.

It is gravely immature to flash public judgement calls in a time of deep grief.

Have we lost the capacity to grieve with people outside of our “homie group?”

Believers have got to lose the “us and them” culture. Sure, I get that we are different than the world, but it’s not because of loud proclamations, external separation, or being theologically correct.

We are different because of the hope that we carry, and if we aren’t giving it away, we really aren’t that different after all. Being like Christ looks more like empathy, humility, and sacrifice than a, “This is how it goes down,” vibe all the time.

Today I took a look at the grace of God in my life.

There was a time that I lived with “assurance of salvation OCD.” I strove to keep my actions and words kind, in case I would die before I had a chance to repent, of course.

“If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take,” the rhyme goes.

I compulsively chose goodbye speeches when I hung up a phone call with family. I wanted my last words to be “I love you” or “goodbye,” because it could be the last. At the end of the day, I asked God to forgive the sins I remembered committing and the sins I had committed that I couldn’t remember or was unaware of, just to be safe.

I lived the Old Testament on steroids, salvation on repeat, except I missed the most important part: being besties with the Resurrection Himself.

I remember after the moment the Holy Spirit took residence in me, that assurance of salvation OCD left. In the last four years, it has only crossed my mind a few times and is quickly dealt with. I know my past, present, and future sins are forgiven. No longer is my “destination” determined by pristine performance because I know Him in the journey.

Therefore, I question judging a complete stranger’s “last performance” simply based on the mistake itself. I’m not taking the authority to say that suicides end in heaven or hell; I am simply opening the door to the, “Man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart” conversation. God knows us better than we know ourselves. 

Scenario: A man leaves his house in an angry rage. A mile down the road, his life ends at the foot of a telephone pole. He didn’t get the chance to say “I’m sorry,” before lights out. Too bad for him I guess.

No! Guys, we are all screwed if grace comes and goes based on our performance.

We make stupid, stupid choices that can’t be undone, but only God deals with us in the end, because He’s been there all along.

For example, I no longer fear that I will accidentally gossip or act in anger in my last moments because I know I am covered and growing in love.

When I was released from the burden of condemnation and embraced by the presence of Love, I was enabled to wildly accomplish my purpose and desire on the earth. In fact, I don’t obsess about future eternity because I have the privilege to partner with God to bring eternity to earth in the present. I’m investing in a love relationship, not creating a down payment on best destination. 

I don’t often hear Bible thumping on the natural cause death conversation. It seems more providential, and the general goodness of a soul wins over the bad in our rationalization and coping methods. After all, is was an accident.

But suicides are far too great a mystery to reconcile with the complex human mind, apparently. It is too uncomfortable, and we simply weren’t there and lack the eyes of God to understand.

I doubt Christians would automatically assign eternal destinations to total strangers based on choices preceding death if they realized the brevity of the grace of God in their own lives. We are all in need of grace, despite what the public eye sees.

We are not eternal judges. We have the responsibility to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, and to give witness to the hope we carry.

We Christians are a dysfunctional bunch, but generally, we all need to know the Prince of Peace more.

With the death of Robin Williams, I think it’s a good time for believers to realize that suicide is rarely a one time, evil impulse to sabotage God’s design for life.

I have personal contact with people who have struggled with depression, and or suicidal thoughts. Depression weakens the mind, and suicide is usually a last resort following a long and drawn out fight with depression. 

We don’t know the demons that torment people, but we do know that God is close to the oppressed in spirit.

I wasn’t there in Robin’s last moments. I will take my questions to God, and meanwhile, I grieve with his family and friends.

I celebrate Robin’s life. Tonight my husband and I watched Mrs. Doubtfire, the old classic. Thanks for the laugh, Robin. May we all find peace.

 

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