Robin Williams, one of the funniest men in America. Successful in movies. TV. Even Broadway.
That's the shocking news that's left the entertainment world - and the entertained world - reeling. It seems that the joy and laughter he gave so many somehow wasn't enough. Not to keep on living.
Makes me think of Jimmy. Who always made me laugh. He made a lot of people laugh.
I tried not to show how shocked I was the night he called to say goodbye. He had broken into my office "to call you - because you're the only person I want to say goodbye to." He was on his way to kill himself.
Thank God, he stayed there until I could get there. We talked all night. Actually, I mostly listened all night. As Jimmy poured out all the pain his humor concealed. Seemingly, so full of life, yet thinking about dying.
That's part of what has made Robin Williams' death so hard to grasp. The huge gap between the bright light we saw on the outside and the darkness that must have stalked him on the inside.
Sadly, that haunting contradiction is all too familiar to a lot of folks. We've got it all together on the outside while we're falling apart on the inside. You see my confidence - inside, I'm desperately insecure. You see my smile - inside, I battle my secret pain.
And it's that word secret that makes our inner darkness so dangerous. When I hide my monsters in the shadows, they stalk me constantly. Rather than facing our monsters, we opt for pain relievers. Which - rather than solving our problems - become another problem in themselves.
Stuffing our pain is not a cure. "Outing" our pain is where a cure begins. When I drag those monsters into the light, they begin to lose their power over me. There is no shame in letting people into your battle. There is great danger in fighting it alone.
I'm forever grateful that young Jimmy called me that night he planned to die. Strangely, he actually found a reason to live that night. Actually, the reason to live.
He opened up all his pain to the One who said, "The Lord has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted." Who talked about the darkness that comes to "steal, kill and destroy. But I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."
The Bible actually says we were "created by Him and for Him." Which means we have a God-sized hole in our heart that no relationship or accomplishment can fill. Which leaves us ever searching, never finding. Because God has planted, what the Bible calls, "eternity in our hearts."
I'm so thankful I found that "forever" thing. When I embraced that relationship with the God I was made by and made for. A relationship that was free for me. But cost Jesus everything. It meant sacrificing His life, dying on a cross, to open the way for a sinful me to belong to a perfect God. And live forever.
Now, with the vista of my life opened up beyond my years here to an amazing forever, I can live life to the full. Doing life with the only One who knows why I'm here. The One who put me here. The One who said, "Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
On a day when the news is shrouded in grief, there's hope in knowing the darkness doesn't have to win.
Light has come.