Why It Matters

(photo from disneywiki)
As I was driving on Monday afternoon, my phone dinged and I saw the message, “Trending: Robin Williams has died at age 63.” If you’ve followed his life at all, you know that he struggled for many years with alcohol and drug addiction, as well as depression. Suicide was not my first thought as a cause of death. I was thinking more along the lines of accidental overdose or heart attack…much like many before him who had succumbed to their addictions. Instead, Robin’s last moments were spent desperately alone, and according to reports, with one failed attempt at slitting his wrists and then ultimately hanging himself. What an utterly sad ending for a man who brought so much laughter and joy to so many lives.
Strangely enough, just hours before Robin Williams’ death, and perhaps even while he sat alone in a room all by himself, my six year old son was speaking of Robin Williams to a family friend who was visiting. My son was talking to her about how funny he was and naming off a lot of the movies he had seen Robin Williams star in. I have wondered since the moment I heard about Robin’s death, whether he knew that a little boy in Texas was speaking so highly of him.
In the days since his death, I have read through the number of condolences posted by celebrities who had the privilege of working alongside Robin Williams. Most were in shock and completely saddened. Some were well aware of the demons that Robin fought over his lifetime. As I scrolled through the comments, I wondered whether Robin truly knew how much these people thought of him as an actor and as a person. But, I also wondered how much time any of these people had actually spent with Robin during his really down moments. Did they reach out to him and he pushed them away or like many of us reading this, were they just too busy to take the time to reach out to a man that was desperate? Were they simply afraid to speak up?
Many of us have encountered these questions at some point in our lives.

(photo from halosdaily.com)
Albie Pearson, the man whom God sent to me with a word of knowledge and eventually led me in the prayer of salvation, battles this same question to this day. Albie was a professional baseball player in Los Angeles and one night in the spring of 1962, he came face to face with Marilyn Monroe.
“’I looked at the most famous yet loneliest person I ever saw in my life,’ Pearson said. ‘She was a beautiful shell. I was shocked. I expected her to come out flashing a big smile, and I got this sober look.’”[1]  

The “look.” You know, the “look” you see in a person’s eye that just hints at sadness, trouble, and loneliness. How do we react to that “look?”
I was reading the account in Nehemiah 1-2 the other morning where Nehemiah was just overwhelmed with grief. He was the king’s cup-bearer at the time and he had never before appeared sad in the king’s presence. This change of behavior was a red flag for the king and it caused him to ask the following question:
“Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”[2]

The king’s question led to Nehemiah’s response that eventually led to the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. What if the king had never asked Nehemiah why he was so sad?
Sadly, many of us also wonder about the “what if’s”…often times far too late.
Albie would later go on to say in his interview that after Marilyn got off the field, her smile again vanished. Albie stared into her searching eyes and Marilyn stared right back. She asked him this question, “’What is it that you’re trying to tell me?’” Albie choked. Not a word came out of his mouth. He walked away from her that moment and she never again made a public appearance. She died several weeks later of a drug overdose.
Not all of our silence or lack of attempt at trying to get to the source of someone’s sorrow ends in such shocking ways as Robin Williams or Marilyn Monroe. Not all of our being too busy to take the time to give our time to someone who needs someone ends up on the news. But often times, our failure to love another and lay down our lives for someone else causes us to lose so much.
I know this first hand.
Twenty years ago, I met my birth father for the first and last time (my parents had divorced when I was two years old and I had no recollection of him). During this visit, I also met a half-brother, Tony, who was almost six years younger than me and who I knew nothing about. Shortly after returning home, I kept in brief contact with my father. The one and only thing he ever asked of me was to be there for Tony. I failed miserably at that. I was young, immature and struggling to keep myself together at the time and could not fathom the idea of helping someone I did not know clear across the country.
Several years ago, my mother informed me of my birth father’s death. That information led to my father’s brother meeting up with my mother and brother. That contact, along with the help of Facebook, reconnected me to Tony. We chatted through Facebook very superficially the past few years. Last month, a brother of our father’s died suddenly of a brain tumor. This death caused us both to realize how short life is and that it takes effort to stay connected.
Last month, God in His goodness orchestrated a last minute vacation for my family to a place that just happened to be within an hour’s drive of Tony. I quickly messaged him and said that it would be great if we can meet up while we are there on vacation.
Tony has become a great man with a wonderful career and a fiancée. Just being his presence made me realize what a mistake I had made not doing what my father had asked of me. I told him recently that it was God who put our trip all together for a reason and that it will be God who restores the years we lost. I am claiming this promise from Joel 2:25!
Am I busy right now? You better believe it…way busier than I was when I was 20! But, I am also slightly wiser and a little more mature than I was then as well. And I am choosing not to walk away this time.
It takes work when you are dealing with people. Often it is just a word or your physical presence that they need. Would anything have saved Robin Williams from doing what he did? I don’t know. I do know Albie regrets never saying what he wanted to say to Marilyn Monroe. I bet many of you have similar regrets. I know I regretted never stepping up to be in Tony’s life, but I am so thankful that God has given me a second opportunity.
Please don’t take the opportunities that God places before you for granted. Be bold. Be persistent. Be involved. Ask questions. It could save a soul, a relationship and in some cases, a life.

Need help? Call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

[1] http://articles.latimes.com/1997/dec/14/sports/sp-64080, retrieved on August 13, 2014
[2] Nehemiah 2:2, NLT

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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1 Comment

Joy - August 13th, 2016 at 2:41pm

LOVE this post...so true.