Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel like giving up? Like your best will never be good enough and you’ll never be worth a place at the proverbial table? Like you can’t seem to breathe hope into the future, because everything around you seems so dark?
Have you ever had one of those days only to come home and discover that someone else has given up?
Depression is scary. It’s scary when the pain in your heart is so real and so heavy that you feel like a dead weight strewn across your couch unable to move. It’s scary when you can’t pinpoint exactly why you feel the way you do, and the more you try, the more you just… hurt. It is scary when you reach out to friends and family, and they don’t have the words to say to make you feel any less… alone.
I am not going to try to tell you that I know what Robin Williams was feeling yesterday when he chose to take his life. And I am not going to claim to know anything about the journey that led him to such a tragic decision.
What I can tell you is that peace is hard to find. In a world where our value is assessed by what we do rather than who we are. In a world where our relationships are mostly virtual and we struggle to shut off the thousands of voices talking at us each day. In a world where Ebola, human trafficking, neighborhood violence, and the plethora of other harsh realities facing us each day cause us to feel hopeless and afraid. Peace is hard to find.
I’m having trouble finding the words to say, because I know that this won’t be news to you. I know that many of you reading this have experienced pain deeper than I care to imagine. And I’m having trouble finding the words to say, because I know that no amount of words can bring back the many lights that have gone out in this world because the pain was just too much.
But, what I want to tell you is that like depression, peace is illogical. It doesn’t make sense. Peace is hard to find, because it’s counter to our very nature. It’s for this very reason that we find Jesus so difficult to understand and hard to follow.
And even though we want to believe that, had Robin Williams just reached out and told someone what he was going through, he would still be with us today, I’m just not sure that’s fair. For one thing, reports claimed that it was common knowledge that he was battling depression for many months. For another, it doesn’t seem fair to insinuate that his family did not try to help him. I am sure that they were on the front lines, punching some proverbial demons in the face, but in the end, it was just too much.
Unfortunately, sometimes the reality of tomorrow is just too much.
And tragically, we end up saying, “goodbye,” to some of the brightest lights among us.
And I’m sorry, but posting on Facebook urging people who are depressed to find someone to talk to is not going to change that because (1) depression is not something that you can fix with a few magic words, and (2) most people who suffer from depression desperately need someone to understand without being told.
We have to change the conversation. We can’t talk the weight off each others’ hearts. Rarely can we even fight someone’s battles for them. But, we can make peace a little easier to find.
One of the greatest gifts we can offer each other is space. Not space from each other, but space with. Space away from the noise, chaos, and trouble surrounding us constantly. Space to experience the metered, still breathing of another soul also escaping the muddy terrains lining this journey called life. Space to be me and you, without expectation, without labels – just plain ole you and me. Space to be human.
When we offer that space – whatever it may look like – we allow ourselves and others to experience a moment of deep, life-giving peace. And while that might not change the world, bit-by-bit, it changes us.
Practicing peace. Giving ourselves and others that space daily. Over time, we will start to embody peace. And maybe someone we didn’t even know was hurting will come to experience that peace through us. But maybe, just maybe, we will also learn to see more vividly the people, places, and situations around us that need peace breathed into them.
Depression is real. It’s painful and debilitating. Depression consumes your whole body until all you can feel is weight and all you see is darkness. This world needs more people who shine a faint little glimmer of peace into that void. Not just when we know someone is hurting, but all the time.
Practice peace today. Invite someone to share space with you. Tomorrow – invite two people. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds (Philippians 4:7).
This article was originally posted on Rev. Emily Holladay’s blog, Rev. on the Edge. It is reprinted with permission.