Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I'm Hoping That He Can Finally Laugh Himself!

He made me laugh.  He made me laugh a lot.  There are dozens of roles Robin Williams played that left me in stitches.  Although I enjoyed watching him on the the big screen, he made me laugh when he was simply in "impromptu mode."  There's not many in Hollywood I would like to meet, but he's one I would have loved to meet.  He's one I think I would have enjoyed getting to know.  One I would like to play Pictionary with, or Taboo, or Catch Phrase.  I'm thinking that would indeed be a blast!

The news of his death came as a shock to me as it did everyone else.  As I sit here taking it all in, I can't help but think how broken our culture is.  I mean, here was a man who entertained us.  A man who made us laugh.  A man who made our journey better by the laughter he brought us.  He made us laugh.  He made us all laugh.  And that's really all we wanted from him.  Never mind the inner turmoil he walked through life with.  Never mind the struggles he had as he tried to navigate through this life.  Because we are so programmed toward being entertained, all of his issues were irrelevant to us. Until a moment like this.  Then all of a sudden we sit in front of our television numb. The laughter all fades and we are hit with the harsh reality that all we choose to see is not all we need to see.

Beyond our laughter was a man with problems.  Beyond the characters he played was a man, just like all of us.  A man, who faced major challenges.  And while the masses screamed, "Make me laugh," he obliged, all the while struggling to make it through the next day. He made us laugh, but I'm thinking he should also have made us pray.  I'm talking genuine prayer, standing in the gap, asking God to help this man who makes us laugh find the joy that escapes him.  Afterall, he didn't hide his problems.  They were out there for anyone who cared to see. But who among us really cared?  As long as we were laughing, how many of us really cared about the one making us laugh?  At his death we sit here stunned wondering how one who could make others laugh struggled to enjoy life himself.  The truth was always there, however, below the surface for anyone to see who truly cared to see it.

I know we don't really know him.  We watched his life from a distance.  We watched as he put on the masks and we determined not to look beyond them.  That would require something from us and we simply wanted something from him.  That's how we approach all the entertainers in our culture.  I don't know how many times, when those "stars" among us give us a glimpse of who they really are, and I just want to pretend I didn't see the "real person."  I think, "please sing or act, because I like the entertainer much more than the real you."  Perhaps, you're not like me but I think there are more like me then not when it comes to this.

Over the course of the next few days, the television will be saturated with news of Robin Williams'  death.  The internet, social media, and our personal conversations will be full of the same.  Then, it'll all fade to silence and another story will captivate our attention. Someone else will make us laugh. I know there will never be another Robin Williams, but there will be another who will make us laugh. There is never a shortage of those who are willing to step out on that stage and do a song and dance for us.  So, someone else will entertain us.  And when they do we'll not care about the issues that haunt their lives.  We want to be entertained and as long as we are, all is good with our little world.  Yeah, we'll laugh again.  And the whole time we are laughing we'll fail to truly see just how broken this culture is that we insist on maintaining.    

Robin Williams was so much more than a goofy alien from Ork, or a genie in a bottle, or a boy dressed in a green suit that taught us the power of "happy thoughts."  His gifts and talents are well documented but we make a huge mistake when we try to define him by what he brought to the stage.  It's equally important that we not define him by the struggles he walked through life with. As with us all, who we truly are and the value of our lives is determined only by the One who created us.  God looked far beyond the roles and all the characters he played and all the masks he wore, and saw not a star, but a man.  A man He created to be His son.  A man worth loving regardless of what he did, what he didn't do, or the value he brought to the table.  Jesus saw a man who was worth rescuing even if the cost required His life in exchange.  Williams stardom was irrelevant in God's assessment of his true worth and it played no part in who he was in God's eyes.  Hmm, wondering how things would be different if we could approach others with that same perspective?

I have no idea as to where Williams was in relation to His Creator.  I could easily take some of the news I hear and form an opinion that in the end has no bearing on his eternal destination.  I've finally determined to let God sit in that seat rather than me.  While I would love to hold to the hope that I will one day see him again so he can make me laugh, I think the point I'm trying to get across is that life isn't just about "me."  With that in mind the message I'm trying to communicate is, I'm hoping that, after a life long struggle to find real joy, the man who we first got to know via television's Happy Days can, once and for all, finally laugh himself!

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