Read this morning that chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain died by suicide. Tragic, to be sure, but also yet another indicator that success–whether it is financial, professional, or any other kind–does not necessarily equate with happiness.
There are successful people on many levels who chase their personal darkness their whole lives and never find happiness.
Because ultimately, I think, success is fleeting, and both arrives and departs on gossamer wings.
Depression has a different genesis for each person, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t faced it.
Even people who follow Jesus with all their hearts still stumble through personal darkness at times. While I cannot speak for every Christian, I can tell you why the presence of Christ in my life has made such a difference, at least so far as my darkness is concerned.
Think of it as a little bit like navigating through a darkened room with no light source. Maybe you know where everything’s located, and most times you can get from one side to another courtesy of memory and walking pretty slowly.
But here’s the thing.
Eventually you’re going to run into something and break a toe, or cut your forehead, or trip over a stool or some toy and lay yourself out in the living room.
That’s life; navigating a dark room and trying not to run into obstacles. It’s impossible to do forever.
Not to say that Jesus in your life means the obstacles aren’t there anymore–they are. You can just see them more clearly. It doesn’t mean you’ll be happy all the time, either, because you won’t.
Just think of that same room, but you’re holding aloft your cell phone with the flash engaged. You can see the stool, or boots, or toys. Jesus is, or can be, that light held aloft.
But sometimes you still stumble, even with a light.
So what do you do when the darkness becomes profound, and the obstacles insurmountable?
While it might be easier to fall on the ground and scream, and make the decision to never get up and try walking again because Legos and trucks and those little sharp corners on dressers are just too painful to take anymore, sometimes the hard way is actually better.
Hold up your light and look at your crooked toe, broken ankle, or LEGO brick sticking out of your heel and decide intentionally that while it hurts like a bitch, it doesn’t mean you’re going to lay on the floor forever.
You can call for help if you need it. And let’s be honest–there are times when we all need it. Even when we know Jesus personally.
Toward the end of last year, things weren’t going well at work, or financially at home, or ecclesiastically at church. The hallway was dark, and the room had a lot of crap on the floor.
The result was a personal and professional breakdown culminating in a change of job, medication, and way of thinking.
It was pretty dark. And I had to call for help. I didn’t want to, because it was embarrassing to fall.
But I also didn’t want to lay on the floor forever.
And because of Jesus, I was able to light up the darkness and see the room wasn’t impassable after all, even if I’d broken a few bones and shed a few tears.
Maybe that’s you, too. Maybe you’re laying on the floor and you can’t see to walk.
Hold up your light. The pain might not go away, but knowing what’s coming makes walking a whole lot easier.
And when you know what hurts, maybe you don’t step on it as much.
And when you do step on something painful, trip, or stumble, remember that light in your hand.
If you don’t have one, it’s worth finding.