I’m no stranger to depression with a father, husband and offspring who suffered from it and the resulting unsuccessful threats and attempts to commit suicide.
I’m saddened again this week with Robin Williams’ death. I never met him, but his movies brought him into my life, like a wacky, but kind next-door neighbor. I was particularly drawn to the 1989 movie, Dead Poets Society long before I moved to Nashville in 2003 and heard of the connection to Montgomery Bell Academy here. The film gave me a personal license to take responsibility to stand up for what I believe is right, and not to always believe what others tell me. It was a curious freedom that I hadn’t experienced before.
As I was writing my memoir, Chasing My Father, I reflected on the movie and the freedom that it inspired in me to always do what is right, even if it isn’t popular. My book opens with a quote from John Keating, the character played by Williams, “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”
Although external circumstances can be oppressive, my loved ones’ depression was from a constant wrestling with internal demons that would lead them through a downward spiral, always telling them that they weren’t loved, beautiful, or competent, and that they didn’t “fit in”. It was internal “bullying” when the voices became so loud that they couldn’t think of any other option except trying to take their own life.
Painful memories resurfaced this week, and I was even more disturbed to hear of the media discussion extolling Williams for finally being “free.”
I feel incredibly free, but it is not because I have escaped this earthly life. Instead, I have learned to trust God and turn over my entire life to Him. It isn’t always easy, but that is not the promise. To have a God who loves me, walks with me every step and “protects me from all evil” provides me with the daily comfort and freedom that we all desire.
In The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer explores Matthew 10:1: “And he called unto him his twelve disciples, and gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness.” Bonhoeffer says, “The prayer has been heard…it is not a word or a doctrine they receive, but effective power, without which the work could not be done.”
Williams’ life inspired me to stand up for what is right, and God has given me the power to bring the devil into the light and overcome him with the power of Jesus Christ.
This power is the ultimate freedom, and it belongs to you, too.
Blessings, my friend,