This week the world has been shaken by the loss of a great man.
I remember the shock of reading the news that evening.
Robin Williams? Dead? Suicide?
Wrong words jumbled together.
So we all did what our hearts told us to do.
We mourned publicly the loss of a great person. We quoted the artist, we comforted the man’s family. We created and forwarded lists of his favourite performances.
More important, Robin Williams’ death served as a catalyst.
Unprecedentedly, we ACKNOWLEDGED clinical depression publicly and its devastating effects on the sufferer and the surrounding family.
And then, we acknowledged our own pain and hidden suffering. I saw so many beautiful people coming forward and bravely acknowledging their personal fight with the overbearing monster that clinical depression can be.
And we showed solidarity. And we proved humanity still exists by embracing these people and whispering to them, in comments on their blogs or in tight embraces when we saw them face to face.
It is okay. It is not your fault. As Nick Coffer put it so very well, mental illness can be very ” democratic. Old, young, rich, poor – pushed to the moment where ending it all becomes a real option. Suicide remains the biggest single killer of middle age men – and it remains one of our biggest taboos. Talking openly about mental illness and embracing people who are suffering, without judgement, will be the long-term sign that we are an evolved and compassionate society.”
I couldn’t have put it better. Indeed, embracing people who are suffering, without judgement, would be a sign that we are a compassionate society. A society where it is safe to raise children and open up about our pain.
This week another thing happened. The Christian world has been shaken by the news of great pain.
Ooooh, no, it is not what you think it is.
No, I am not going to be proper and extract a few tears from us, righteous and holy people, feeling bad about the tragedy that has been taking place in Iraq. About which I am utterly outraged, by the way, and will write some other time.
No, I will write about a subject that is avoided and buried deep and considered shameful by the Church. Just like clinical depression used to be, not so long ago.
A subject to which we have no solutions as we have no understanding.
To which we offer idiotic solutions like exorcism(!!!) or we choose to totally avoid and ignore.
This week, a prominent Christian female figure in Church came out as gay.
Oooooh, I can hear the roar of disapproval already.
For all self-righteous folk, the exit is clearly marked by a white cross found on the right hand side, top of the page. Just go now, I will not judge.
For all Christ-righteous folk, the exit is clearly marked by His Cross.
I do not know what homosexuality is. I do not know if it is a mental illness. Or a chromosome gone haywire. Or the consequence of sexual abuse at a young age. Or…or…or…
But you know what? I do not need to know.
Just like I do not need to know why my baby got leukaemia and died at not even six months of age.
Just like I do not need to know why there is depression and so much pain in the world.
My role as a Christian is not to have the answers.
I am not supposed to know.
My role is plain simple on this earth.
I am here to love. Show acceptance, compassion and mercy.
How dare we stigmatise, isolate and declare pariahs everyone who is unlike us?
Words carry no meaning in themselves, only the meaning we give them.
So how is it different being a Christian in Iraq from being gay in a Christian church?
How is it different if the result is the same: annihilation of either body or soul.
And if I remember right, Christ said “beware of the enemy of your souls”. He warned us of the danger of losing our humanity as he knew our bodies are less important in the greater scheme of things.
I do not support gay-ism.
Just like I don’t support clinical depression.
But I feel for the suffering. And I find totally unacceptable for us, as a church, to use a person for their gifts, be “blessed” by their singing, just like Vicki Beeching but then turn our backs to her as a human being just because she is different.
If I could, I would give her a hug. If I could, I would look her in the eye and say sorry. For all the years when she had to face her “demons” alone. For us failing her as a church while she was blessing us with her gifting.
The “world” turned the tables on clinical depression. Robin Williams’ death served the ultimate purpose of acknowledging the drama of clinical depression and erasing the shame.
Hey, Church, here is a revolutionary idea for you! What if we acknowledged homosexuality as a terribly isolating issue and embraced the suffering?
Not follow suit, I say, but just for once, show the world how to live and be compassionate!
And I would go a step forward, big man, and say: “The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy and help others be happy too, if it is within our power.” Rest well!