Anne Lamott wrote a piece in response to Robin Williams’ death that I read and wept through this morning. I am grateful for her articulating several things I could not give words to. You can read her beautiful, strong comments here. I appreciate the raw transparency Anne shares with us and though I do not agree with everything that Anne says, I deeply agree with her courage and sense of responsibility to others to be a truth-teller and to extend real hope. I have lived with depression and mental illness for probably 98% of my life, and every single day of my life is lived reaching for Beauty and Goodness as an act of defiance against despair. On some levels, there just are no easy days.
I am a resurrection story as Anne puts it. But I know that it is ONLY by grace and my story could be very, very different than the miracle it is. I grieve for Robin and his family. I grieve also for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Thomas Kincaid. If you are an artist of any kind, you walk through shadows and the reason you make art is to prove again that the Light of the world has never been overtaken by the darkness. The abyss that Anne talks about, and that you are undoubtedly already acquainted with, is indeed all too sickeningly real. But it is not all there is and it does not have the final say.
This I can tell you. The devil is a liar.
If you are in pain, the devil will try to make you believe that pain is all there is and that it will never change. The devil lies. If you are in pain, remember this. Pain is only pain. It is not the definition of reality and it is not the foundation of it. I am sober still after 34 years because I learned that pain is not everything. It passes. It ALWAYS passes.
Find someone to talk to. Take a single step of courage to talk to someone. Do not expect them to have answers. For much of our pain there really aren’t answers and answers in themselves do not comfort. Certainly “answers” don’t make sense of suffering. But Anne is spot-on when she says “there can be meaning without things making sense.” When you talk with someone anticipate that you will not be alone and that the act of reaching out itself is part of what breaks the curse and breaks the cycle. Reaching out, more than once – reaching out a thousand times becomes a way of life but it always begins with one act, one step, one choice. A choice for Life.
Ask Jesus to be with you. He will be. The most powerful prayer I have ever prayed, and sometimes still do, is “Jesus save me.” Sometimes I have have prayed “Jesus save me from myself.”
And sometimes I remember to say please. I have NEVER known the Lord not to answer the prayer “Jesus help me!” and I am alive today because of it. I’m not offering this as some pat, pre-determined response to quickly smooth over horror and grief. I’m offering it as the thread of hope that comes straight out of my own life and experience and offering it as a thread of hope for you and for others.
Be mindful to pray for one another. Give kind words to each other and, as much as you can, give the benefit of the doubt. Encourage others and trust God to be faithful. He is and will always be. Look for beauty today and be grateful for it as you find it. Make more. Give it to someone else. Remember that you are loved and that, even with pain, Life is a wonder. Be a light in the window.
The featured image, titled “Light in the Window”, is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with glad permission for The Cultivating Project. It was shot in Oxford, England as part of an on-going series of images of light at night. Light in the evening has always fascinated me. Stars, moon, lamplight, candles and especially light coming through windows. The symbolism always gives me hope and courage.
May it do the same for you. ♥
Lancia E. Smith is an author, photographer, teacher, and business owner. A grateful lover of the Triune God, Lancia is passionate about the disciple making. Reflecting that calling, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Cultivating Good | True | Beautiful, and of The Cultivating Project, a discipling initiative for Christians engaged in the arts, with a special emphasis on writers. Lancia is a board member and patron of the Anselm Society, and Regional Representative of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. She is President and CEO of a thriving environmental consulting and construction firm based in northern Colorado which she runs with her husband Peter. They are parents to seven children, and are grandparents to a beloved flock of grandchildren. Lancia loves strong coffee with cinnamon, writing, website design, David Austin roses, Marvel movies, road trips with Peter, and nearly every book she ever read by C.S. Lewis, J.R. R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald.