If you are like me, the news of Robin William’s death left you momentarily motionless. It just does not seem fair or right that someone with so much talent or humor has been snatched away from us. Williams helped us laugh, cry, and think. I am still deeply moved whenever I think of the character, Patch Adams. Williams, playing the role of a real life hero, exhibited joy, the drive to make a difference, and heartache. Today, we feel those some emotions when we think of him.
What makes Williams’ death all the more unfair or unthinkable is that reports have been published that Williams died from suicide; an action most likely driven by a dark battle with depression. Let’s clear something up right now…Mental Illness is real and depression is real. And, if you are depressed, I am sorry that you are in the midst of the struggle. The dark hole of depression can often feel unescapable and hopeless. But please, allow me to make one request…Please do not feel any shame about your depression. You are sick. You are not unlovable. You are in the midst of a battle, but a battle that is not hopeless. You are not your sickness or struggle, but instead you are a person made in the image of a creative God who deeply loves you.
Jesus often got the rap of hanging out with people he should not hang out with; sinners, cheaters, prostitutes, unhealthy people. Shockingly and thankfully, Jesus told a group of religious elites, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If you are suffering from depression, you are sick. The causes of depression are many and it is a very powerful manifestation of our broken world. Sickness happens. But thankfully, so did Jesus. And guess what, Jesus boldly stated, “I have come for the sick.”
If you are suffering from depression, please know that you are not alone. Also, please know that there are many churches out there that will not judge you because of your illness, but will instead embrace you, comfort you, and love you through the darkness. No shame, either. I hope my church will be a no shame zone for those who are suffering from any type of mental illness. After all, Jesus did not come for the healthy, he came for the sick.
(Need help? Reach out to a local congregation, a help center, or the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. If you are in Hardinsburg, you can call HBC for help at 270-756-5230.)
Paul is the husband to Tara, father to Natalie and Isaac, has an average jump shot, and enjoys running. His secret wish is to one day become a Jedi Knight. Paul holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and currently serves as senior pastor of Hardinsburg Baptist Church. Paul desires to help young couples navigate the early crucibles of marriage, especially when one or both of the spouses are engaged in vocational ministry.