Tag Archive | sadness

Do you ever look at someone and wonder, what is going on inside their head?

If you do, you’re like Joy, one of the five emotions in Riley’s head in the movie ‘Inside Out’. When the 11-year old Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate the move. The storyline is based on a common experience but the movie is filled with brilliant insights into how our emotions work.Inside Out characters

Riley’s emotions, led by Joy most of the time, are in charge of creating glowing little memory balls which are stored in the control suite each day and then, when Riley goes to sleep, dispatched off to be stored with all the other long-term memories. This infinite memory-ball library is situated in a huge landscape, which includes vast identity islands symbolising various aspects of her personality: honesty, love of family, etc. There is a feelgood factor in how the movie portrays the values of honesty and of family life.

When Riley moves house and starts experiencing all of the emotions which go along with that, Joy struggles to maintain control. Indeed, Joy and Sadness both find themselves locked out of the command centre for a while – Riley suffers from depression. Fear, Disgust and Anger are in control and Riley is miserable. As Joy and Sadness make their way back, through a roller coaster of events which involve trying to catch the train of thought, it becomes clear that Joy and Sadness are both necessary to Riley’s wellbeing. Sadness cannot be confined to the circle which Joy had made for her; she is actually vital to Riley as she processes all of her emotional reactions to the move.

Nestled throughout the clever universe that “Inside Out” creates are big ideas about how various emotions drive our identity. For every sight gag that makes kids chuckle, there’s an eye-opening meditation for adults – and that’s just what Docter and his frequent producer, Jonas Rivera, intended. (Huffington Post).

If you have ever looked at someone and wondered, ‘What is going on inside their head?’, you will really enjoy this movie. You can watch the trailer here.

Some unforgettable quotes:

Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems (Sadness).

Congratulations San Francisco, you’ve ruined pizza! First the Hawaiians, and now YOU! (Anger).

All right! We did not die today, I call that an unqualified success (Fear).


Robin Williams and Depression

The western world has been stunned by the news of the apparent suicide of well-known and much-loved comedian, Robin Williams.

Here are some of the reactions from his fellow-celebrities:

John Travolta, his co-star in the film Old Dogs, said: “I’ve never known a sweeter, brighter, more considerate person than Robin. Robin’s commitment as an artist to lifting our mood and making us happy is compared to none. He loved us all and we loved him back.”

Mia Farrow, the actress, tweeted: “No! Robin Williams you were so loved.”

Fellow comedian and Father of the Bride actor Steve Martin said: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”

We are stunned by suicide because we usually don’t see it coming. It doesn’t make sense to us. How much more so when it involves a comedian who brought laughter to so many, who ‘lifted our mood’, as John Travolta says. In the end, battling depression and addictions, Robin Williams was unable to lift his own mood.

Mia Farrow’s comment is one which resonates with us: “No! Robin Williams you were so loved.” We don’t understand how someone who was loved by so many could feel so down, so desperate, that they would end their own life.

Suicide is a huge topic and so is depression. We can only hope and pray that the media coverage now which will surround the tragic death of Robin Williams will serve to lift some of the taboo which still surrounds the subject of depression.

If you – or someone you know – is suffering from depression, please seek help. Find a good counsellor and get the support you need to walk through the dark tunnel. You don’t have to walk through it alone. There are lots of good resources out there now too, some of which you will find listed under the section on depression, the black dog, in this blog.

20140812-111230.jpg You can also read the story of my own depression there.

3 Perspectives on the story of Lazarus

From three different directions recently I have been reminded of the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Firstly, Alan spoke about it in a recent church service, where he looked at the story from the point of view of the progression of Martha’s faith through the story. You can read about it on his website.

  • At the start, Martha believed that Jesus loved her brother.
  • She believed that if Jesus had been present, he could have prevented the death of her brother.
  • She believed that even though her brother had died, Jesus was still powerful.
  • She believed that her brother would rise at the last day.
  • She believed that Jesus was the Christ.

Alan says: What an amazing moment it must have been for Martha to realise that the power of resurrection, which she affirmed as part of her faith, was present, incarnate in the man called Jesus.

As the resurrection, Jesus promises that for anyone who dies believing in him, death will not have the final word. As the life, Jesus promises that anyone who believes in him will have a quality of life that death cannot touch.

It is one thing to make these claims. (I could claim to be able to fly between tall buildings: the fraudulence and futility of my claim would be revealed at the first attempt). By commanding Lazarus to emerge from the tomb, Jesus demonstrated the reality of his claim.

Then I came across this story again in Elisabeth Elliot’s Daily Devotional, where she was looking at instances in the Bible where deliverance did not come – at least not in the way or in the time expected by those who prayed.

She asks: What did the household at Bethany not do that the Widow of Nain had done? How shall we align it all? Who rates and who doesn’t? Whatever it is that we might have chosen to say to them in the days following their experience of death, we would have had to come to terms somehow with the bleak fact that God had done something for others that he had not done for them.

From the vantage point of two thousand years, we later believers can, of course, see that there was something wonderful in prospect, and that it emerged within a very few days. But of course this line would have been frosty comfort for Mary and Martha, if we had insisted to them, “Well, surely God is up to something. We’ll just have to wait.”

And yet what else could we have said? Their experience at that point was of the utter finality of death, which had thrown everything they had expected into limbo. For them there was no walking and leaping and praising God. No embracing and ecstatic tears of reunion. Only the silence of shrouds and sepulchres, and then the turning back, not just to the flat routines of daily life, but to the miserable duel with the tedious voices pressing in upon their exhausted imaginations with “Right! Now where are you? Tell us about your faith now! What’d you do wrong?”

The point is that for x number of days, their experience was of defeat. For us, alas, the “x number of days” may be greatly multiplied. And it is small comfort to us to be told that the difference, then, between us and Mary and Martha’s experience of Lazarus’ death, is only a quantitative difference. “They had to wait four days. You have to wait one, or five, or seventy years. What’s the real difference?” That is like telling someone on the rack that his pain is only quantitatively different from mine with my hangnail. The quantity is the difference. But there is, perhaps, at least this much of help for us whose experience is that of Mary and Martha and the others, and not that of the widow of Nain and Jairus and that set: the experience of the faithful has, in fact, included the experience of utter death. That seems to be part of the pattern, and it would be hard indeed to insist that the death was attributable to some failure of faith on somebody’s part.

There is also this to be observed: that it sometimes seems that those on the higher reaches of faith are asked to experience this “absence” of God. For instance, Jesus seemed ready enough to show his authority to chance bystanders, and to the multitudes; but look at his own circle. John the Baptist wasn’t let off–he had his head chopped off. James was killed in prison. And the Virgin herself had to go through the horror of seeing her Son tortured. No legions of angels intervened there. There was also Job, of course. And St. Paul–he had some sort of healing ministry himself, so that handkerchiefs were sent out from him with apparently healing efficacy for others, but, irony of ironies, his own prayer for himself was “unanswered.” He had to slog through life with whatever his “thorn” was. What do these data do to our categories?

But there is more. Turning again to the disclosure of God in Scripture, we seem to see that, in his economy, there is no slippage. Nothing simply disappears. No sparrow falls without his knowing (and, one might think, caring) about it. No hair on anybody’s head is without its number. Oh, you say, that’s only a metaphor; it’s not literal. A metaphor of what, then, we might ask. Is the implication there that God doesn’t keep tabs on things?

And so we begin to think about all our prayers and vigils and fastings and abstinences, and the offices and sacraments of the Church, that have gone up to the throne in behalf of the sufferer. They have vanished, as no sparrow, no hair, has ever done. Hey, what about that?

And we know that this is false. It is nonsense. All right then–we prayed, with much faith or with little; we searched ourselves; we fasted; we anointed and laid on hands; we kept vigil. And nothing happened.

Did it not? What angle of vision are we speaking from? Is it not true that again and again in the biblical picture of things, the story has to be allowed to finish?

Was it not the case with Lazarus’ household at Bethany? And is it not the case with the Whole Story, actually–that it must be allowed to finish, and that this is precisely what the faithful have been watching for since the beginning of time? In the face of suffering and endurance and loss and waiting and death, what is it that has kept the spirits of the faithful from flagging utterly down through the millennia? Is it not the hope of Redemption? Is it not the great Finish to the Story–and to all their little stories of wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins as well as to the One Big Story of the whole creation, which is itself groaning and waiting? And is not that Finish called glorious? Does it not entail what amounts to a redoing of all that has gone wrong, and a remaking of all that is ruined, and a finding of all that has been lost in the shuffle, and an unfolding of it all in a blaze of joy and splendor?

And finally, I read a prayer by Scotty Smith, taken from his book ‘Everyday Prayers’ which is also reproduced in a daily devotional form. Scotty based his prayer on the verse from this beautiful story, ‘Jesus wept’:

Dear Lord Jesus, this may be the shortest verse in the Bible, but it’s immeasurably long in terms of comfort and encouragement.  Your hot, compassionate tears, shed outside of Lazarus’s tomb, are one of the greatest showers that has ever fallen upon the face of the earth. You wept a waterfall of mercy and grace; a river of kindness and peace; a torrent of tenderness and strength.

You knew that within a matter of moments, your friend would breathe again. You knew he’d walk again. You knew you’d enjoy Lazarus’ company very soon. And yet you wept so full-heartedly, as you allowed yourself to feel the implications of his death. Those privileged to see your sacred fury and great sadness, offered profound commentary, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36).

Jesus, we’re so glad you are such a tenderhearted Savior. Many of us will soon face the death of a loved one. Some of us have recently buried a friend, a parent, a spouse, or most painfully, a child. Others of us are coming upon the painful anniversary of great loss. Thank you for validating the pain, the emptiness, the confusion, the great sadness we feel.

At times, like Lazarus’ sister, we cry, “Lord, if only you’d been there”, and you don’t wince, roll your eyes or shame us. You never glibly say to us with impatience, “Get over it.” Rather you say with great understanding, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Because no one hates death more than you. No one. Perhaps some of your tears outside of Lazarus’s tomb were offered knowing he’d have to go through the whole rotten dying process again—such is your hatred of death. No one feels its horrid implications more profoundly. No one grieves its ugly violation more deeply. No one is more looking forward to the day of “no more death” (Rev. 21:4) than you. And no one has done more to put death to death, than you.

Today we rest our sobered and saddened hearts on your shoulder, with the peace and comfort that comes from knowing you as “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The last enemy will soon be a long gone enemy (1 Cor. 15:26). And because of your resurrection, we sing in advance of our resurrection, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). How we praise you! How we exalt you! How we rest our heavy hearts in your loving hands! So very Amen we pray, in your grave-robbing name. Amen.

Mary waiting, weeping, worshipping

It’s my birthday today and I am in reflective mood.

I am sitting in our lovely bungalow in the beautiful countryside enjoying the sunshine streaming through the window and the quietness all around me. The only noises I can hear are the chiming of our kitchen clock and the occasional farm vehicle going down the road. It is only noon and I have had two birthday phone calls – one from Australia – as well as countless text messages and a myriad of facebook messages. I am feeling blessed. And thankful.

Not too many months ago, I was in a very different place. Confused. Hurt. Grieving. Feeling betrayed. Anxious. Fearful. Wondering what the future held. O yes, I was holding on to God, clinging to Him and His word – but feeling the pain of rejection, grief, loss. Within 18 months we had lost three close family members and we faced a major move from both home and work. Yes, I did wonder what the future held.

In those days of waiting on God and wondering, several people gave us a verse which occurs several times in the Bible but usually goes something like this:

‘He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.’ II Sam.22:20; Psalm 18:19; Psalm 31:8: Psalm 118:5.

The physical ‘spacious place’ which God has brought us to serves as a daily reminder of the ‘spacious place’ which God has promised to each of us in His word. He promises to rescue us and bring us to a place of rest. This morning I read this beautiful promise: ‘My Presence shall go with you and I will give you rest’ Exodus 33:14.

And I got to thinking about Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. There are 3 places in the Bible where we read about Mary (and I am grateful to my husband for this outline):

Mary waited at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42)

My husband preached a great sermon about this passage on Sunday morning at Glenabbey Church. If you want details of that, just head on over to his blog. Suffice to say here that, while Martha busied herself to the point of distraction with the tasks of the day, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His teaching. She was in the posture of a disciple, waiting to hear instructions from the Teacher. What was Jesus’ attitude to her? Jesus commended her: ‘Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’ (v.42).

Mary wept at the feet of Jesus (John 11:28-35)

Her brother had died and Jesus had not come on time to prevent his death. Now Jesus had come but it was too late. ‘When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”’ (v.32). Did Jesus rebuke her for the way she spoke to Him? or for her lack of faith? No, ‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.’ (v.33). And in verse 35 we read ‘Jesus wept’ also. Even though He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He shared her sorrow. He demonstrated that heartfelt mourning in the face of death does not indicate lack of faith but honest sorrow at the reality of suffering and death. This was not how it was meant to be. And it is appropriate for us to react with sorrow and sadness.

Mary worshipped at the feet of Jesus (John 12:1-7)

Mary takes a jar of very expensive ointment and anoints the feet of Jesus while he reclines at the table in her home. Undoubtedly she was misunderstood. She was criticised: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” (v.5). But what was Jesus’ response to her? “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (v.7).

Mary waited. Mary wept. Mary worshipped. At the feet of Jesus. And Jesus commended her.

I’d like to be like Mary.