Thank you, Robin

There’s an awful lot of noise on the Internet today about yesterday’s news.

You know: yesterday’s news. Killings in Syria. Riots in Missouri. Iraqi children dying because their parents profess faith in Jesus. Political battles. Broken marriages. Starving children. More rockets in Gaza.  And then, it came. A “push notification” on my phone from a news outlet that Robin Williams was dead at the age of 63.

I blinked and read it again before going downstairs to our office to read the news to my husband and daughter. No one said robin_williamsanything. It was hard to believe. Surely not the Robin Williams. Not Mrs. Doubtfire, surely. Not the man who made us laugh until our sides hurt and reduced us to tears in Patch. It was almost like hearing a good friend was gone. And indeed a good friend was gone. The world lost a friend yesterday.

Celebrities are like that. We feel that we know them… but we don’t. Not really. It made me think of all the people I “know” from their books and blogs and TV shows and churches. We judge and talk and speculate and write. But we don’t really “know.” Not really.

Yesterday is over now, and I’m already tired of the navel-gazing about Mr. Williams’ death. All this talk of battles with depression from people who have never actually experienced it at that level will tell you it was a “choice” as if Robin went to the store to choose what he wanted for dinner.  Where is the grace? I don’t think Robin was trying to be the poster child for depression—I think he was in a pit so deep that he could not see his way out. And when he finally gave up, the world lost a man who brought joy to millions by his transparency and desire to see us laugh with—and even at—him.

So thank you, Robin. Thank you for smiling when you felt like crying. Thank you for trying so hard. Thank you for making us laugh.  I never knew you, but I, like millions of others, will miss your gentle smile and contagious laughter. My heart is breaking for your sweet wife.

As we get back to today’s news, we’ll remember the day Robin’s light went out. I will tuck this away in my heart as a reminder that people need Jesus. We live in a nation who elected our President because we needed “Hope and Change.” We all need it, don’t we? Hope that the war in Iraq will stop. Hope that people will see the unborn for the precious lives they are. Change of heart, change of direction… and yet … hope and change will never be found apart from Jesus.

Sounds a little silly I know, but I wish I could have told Robin how infinitely loved by his Creator he was. You see, until we see ourselves through the eyes of the one who loves us best, we never really know what love looks like. And we need to know. Every single one of us.


Heidi St John Guide to Daylight

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Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children from toddler to adult and have homeschooled all the way through high school. A favorite conference and radio speaker, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you.
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John

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28 Responses to Thank you, Robin

  1. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  2. I think the point of the “choice” conversation is to bring hope to those suffering in the same way – not to belittle his despair. To say that this isn’t the inevitable end to depression. To show that people make it out on the other side and they can, too. The way some people talk about it, hope is found in death. As believers we know hope is found in Christ alone (to quote the song), even in death. It’s an important distinction.

  3. Ruth Both says:

    Well said. So sad that someone so loved by so many reached a point in his life that he made such a choice.

  4. Again, beautifully written! Here at our home, he feels like an Uncle we see once in a while.

  5. Hearts Home says:

    The reason the ‘choice’ articles came out was largely because of the ‘you’re finally free’ articles which almost gave glory to suicide. At the end of the day it is in fact a choice. I’ve been in very dark places and I sure don’t look down on anyone for being there. But I’d beg them, shouting from rooftops, to hang on. Don’t make that choice. The consequences that are left behind are too painful. Because, while you feel alone in that moment, you aren’t. No one is TRULY alone. Someone is left behind with the hurt and guilt and regret that never goes away. We lost a friend to suicide, but not instantly. We saw him one last time in the ER being wheeled into ICU, he couldn’t speak but his eyes had fear in them. I can never get that out of my mind. Nor the 2 weeks in ICU. Nor the meeting to decide to remove him from life support. Depression is a horrible thing and I hope that this will help people to reach out for help and not feel more judgement.

  6. Lori says:

    Great post Heidi! So thankful someone wrote from this perspective.

  7. This was well said and beautifully written. Thank you, Busy Mom.

  8. Suzy says:

    Amen. I thought the same thing…I wondered if anyone ever told him about the love of Jesus.

  9. Patti P says:

    Thanks for sharing! I had many of the same thoughts as I read various comments on different points.

  10. Crystal Ann says:

    Beautifully said .thanks

  11. Best post I’ve read since his passing. Thanks for speaking truth and grace.

  12. Linda J Hunt says:

    Powerful and beautiful.

  13. One of the most compassionate writings I have seen on the loss of Robin Williams! Very beautiful and so very true!!!

  14. Thank you as well for writing this! Matt Walsh’s blog about this being Matt’s choice was cold, uncaring.
    He may have been focused on saving the lives of anyone else who is depressed & is or will consider suicide. However, the way he said things was in a way that would NOT actually help save many people, if any.

    No, suicide is not a good choice. However, compassion is always the best route to take with anyone contemplating such. Not his “it is wrong & selfish so just don’t do it” kind of ‘help’.

  15. Leslie says:

    Thank you Heidi.

  16. He felt so alone which is so sad people sometimes cannot see or BELIEVE the truth that they are loved

  17. Celebrities come and they go. I read about it all the time. It’s just news, right? But, for some strange reason for the first time ever, I have cried over the death of a celebrity. The news of Robin Williams death brought great sorrow to my heart. (I shed tears even as I write this.) To think that a man who was so funny and made us laugh so much had secretly suffered so deep a depression just breaks my heart. One reason, which you mentioned in your excellent article, Heidi, is the reality that we don’t always really know people. We all are actors or have been at one time or another in our lives. Many acting like they are happy, when the reality is they are so broken inside. Keeping up the show to please others and make them happy, when in reality they a grasping to hang on in a most desperate way. Pretending to be confident when they feel so utterly inadequate, or being the life of the party while at the same time feeling all alone. I guess, just thinking about the fact that too often we are looking at the surface with individuals, communicating in the shallow and never reaching beyond that has made me reflect on my own relationship with others around me. So many around us do not have the peace and joy that only Jesus Christ can bring. They seek for it in so many things and ways, yet they are still so empty inside. Not just celebrities, but your everyday Joe and Jane too. This world has been so ravaged by sin and sorrow. There is such a great need for the love and peace of Jesus. No, I do not think what you said was silly at all, Heidi. I too had similar thoughts. That is why I’ve been asking myself today: “How well am I sharing the love and hope of Jesus with others?”, for certainly this world is in desperate need of that ‘Hope of Glory’. I thank God for Robin Williams. He was used to make me laugh so many times over the years and he was also used to make me cry, in a much needed soul-searching way. My prayers go up for his family. Blessings.

  18. Kristy says:

    I am saddened by your use of grace making suicide ok. It most certainly is a choice.

    God does not take others playing Him lightly and I doubt would gloss that over with ‘grace’.

    It is heartbreaking he didn’t know the Fathers love for him.

    Matts blog was actually spot on.

    • Heidi says:

      Kristy, I don’t recall mentioning Matt’s blog—because I haven’t read it—nor do I think I’ve glorified suicide. I have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life—and I can’t imagine trying to navigate this world apart from Jesus.

      That was my point. Harsh words won’t change the devastating decision that Robin made, so let’s not lose sight of the fact that he spent likely his entire life bringing smilies to others even though he was in so much private pain.

      The “grace” I refer to needs to come from others. It doesn’t make suicide “ok,” it lets others know we understand the struggle. To find yourself in the place where the only “choice” you feel you have left is to commit suicide is heartbreaking. And it deserves our compassion, not our condemnation. Maybe a little compassion might keep another from making the same choice.

  19. Jay says:

    Which wife? He was married 3 times.

  20. I am such a fan of your posts and your books! so encouraging! The Matt Walsh article was factual (and something I agree with as far as the main overall message), but I do agree that it had harsh tones. it just really did do a good job of addressing tweets like this though ….which I think are REALLY sad!.These do almost glorifies suicide! :(

  21. Don’t forget, Robin was actually a professing Christian. (YouTube his dialogues about being an episcopalian). I have read many statements about how if he just had Jesus, he would not have been tempted into suicide. But many Christians get depression, many Christians get desperate enough to kill themselves. Just worries me when I read peoples statements–if Christians aren’t free to have depression and will be judged for sharing their struggles, then there will be more silent sufferers of depression.

  22. Your post was beautiful, Heidi. Thank you.

  23. Thank you for your article, full of heart, love, and grace. There is hope. In those dark places, many need to know that there is hope, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for being loving when there are so many who are either critical or glorifying suicide.

  24. So beautiful, Heidi. Thank you for your transparent, truthful writing and perspective. I love that about you. Your candidness helps me realize I am not the only one who has many blessings, loves The Lord, yet still struggles with deep sadness at times that grips your heart and soul. Thank you sweet Heidi.

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