This week has been weird. I would not have said I was a huge Robin Williams fan, but I always appreciated his amazing talent. With his death I plunged into sadness I can’t totally explain.
At first I attributed it to an anniversary of the death of my sweet 20-year-old niece, Pam. We recently passed the 7-year mark of a life ended by the negligence of another driver. There is a shadow I carry because of this loss that is darker every August. But that is a sadness I know. I kept finding myself thinking about Robin's family, his wife…his sadness.
I’ve followed Jesus since I was 9, always involved in church and my vocation is even serving the Church internationally. But none of that helps when faith and hurt do not intersect. I could honestly say I believed all God’s promises were true, that His spirit could give peace that passed understanding. But it did not touch the places where I hurt most. I could not reconcile what I believed with how I felt. I was not mad at God – I thought something was wrong with me, I didn’t have enough faith maybe. Even though my faith and pain seemed to live on separate planes for a while, I remember thinking that I could not understand how anyone could face this life without Jesus.
I found myself thinking this week about people who suffer sadness alone, those who have not found a safe place to sort it all out. I am grateful that Jesus revealed Himself to me through Flatirons and through friends that were “Jesus with skin on.”
It has been a long journey for me. I am learning that sadness, anxiety, depression – these things are not a measure of my faith.
For those who experience the lows of life, for those suffering on the other side of the world – persecuted for their faith, for people who face discrimination because of their skin color or nationality, those that watch loved ones face chronic illness, for all the shades of sadness – how can they survive without the hope that Jesus offers?
I am grateful that at Flatirons, depression is not taboo. Along with many other kinds of struggles we face – it is OK to NOT be OK here. I came to appreciate that so much after Pam died. I moved out to Colorado for a while after that – trying to fit all my feelings, fears, anger and deep sadness back into some semblance of ‘normal’ or of ‘happy.’ I was so relieved to learn here that it is OK if it never fits back perfectly – that the new shape it takes is now part of how God is writing my story.
One day we will all see how God is intertwining our stories and I am sure we will be amazed at how He can take the hurts we can’t understand now and see it as part of something beautiful in the end.
Tina Bruner is a Kentucky transplant to Colorado. She serves on staff with Sozo International, a non-profit that serves the marginalized in Afghanistan.