It’s possible, if not likely, that if you are remotely pop culture aware and spend any time on social media platforms, you’ll see news about or posts about the death, the passing of dancer, DJ, choreographer named tWitch.
I was struck by the moment I heard about his passing. A fan of his, I’ve liked his work, I’ve liked him on TV. I’ve liked his posture online otherwise. I was saddened by the fact that h e’s only 40 years old. And I felt the thing that I read that Jen Hatmaker wrote in her public post.
She said this line that struck me and sort of set this thought in motion, she said he was suffering, and we didn’t even know pain has never been easier to hide. Some of what you might have seen, which is what I have seen, is folks confessing or saying out loud, like, you know, he seems so happy. It’s so shocking. And it’s always shocking. When depression or anxiety, when mental health issues surface. A lot of the time, it’s a surprise; we’re shocked. We’re even to some degree scandalized. We didn’t know that that was going on in someone’s head in someone’s heart. And especially when it comes to light that someone has been thinking about ending their own lives, much less when someone tries to end their own life. It’s surprising, it’s shocking. And it shakes us, I would hope. It shakes us when someone chooses to end their own life.
Shared some of his own thoughts along the same lines. This notion that he was suffering and we didn’t know pain has never been easier to hide. On the one hand, that’s so true. You don’t really know what someone is up against. You don’t really know what’s going on in someone’s head. And then Carlos adds this caveat to that. He says, Yeah, but you do know that it’s just hard sometimes for anyone. We do know you don’t know the particulars, but you do know or maybe should assume that everyone is facing something.
See, in these moments, when we are publicly engaging with or talking about depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, I hope we don’t become more fearful of depression or anxiety. And the threat is to those around us and even to ourselves. I hope we don’t become more afraid of the things that steal life. I do hope, instead, that we become more patient and kind, more long-suffering, more thankful for the raw gift it is to no people at all, including knowing their darker corners and the darker corners of their souls because that is one of the gifts of knowing someone knows that they are up against something, and valuing even their struggles. So what if instead of becoming more fearful of depression, and anxiety, and suicidal ideation, we actually change our posture towards one another. Because no, you don’t get to know the specifics of what someone is going through in their lives. But we really should assume that they’re going through something. And that it’s hard. It is one thing to say I want to be someone who helps people carry their heavy things. It is another thing entirely to actually do the work of carrying those things for other people. It is an entirely different thing to become the kind of person who moves away from transactional relationships and begins to consider the gift is to be alive and to share in being alive with those around us, including those around us carrying heavy weights. We are, as of the day of this post, right about the middle of the Advent season, a season on the Christian calendar which we anticipate the birth of Jesus in the incarnation of God. And in a conversation with friends recently about the incarnation. We talked about the humanity of Jesus, we talked about what it looked like what it meant for God to be human. And one of the folks in the group pointed out this moment, and if you read the gospels, you know this moment. If you don’t, I’ll try to highlight it quickly that at some point in the life and ministry of Jesus, a lot of the people who were following Jesus stopped and just left. He had said some things publicly. So that I think we’re confusing the pressure on him with from religious powers and political powers started scaring people off, and hordes of people who are following Jesus left, and he turns to the disciples, and the phrase in the scriptures is, are you going to leave me to? What about you? Are you going to leave too? And this person in the conversation said, you know, there are a couple of different ways to read that. And one is the way I grew up reading that it’s it’s a test like, Okay, well, everyone, everyone else left, what about you? Will you stay? Are you going to be faithful, like it’s a test of the disciples? The other reading is that he doesn’t want them to leave. Because they’re his friends. And he kind of needs them emotionally. And instead of, are you going to leave me too. It’s, what about you? Are you going to leave me to later on in the life of Jesus, right towards the tail end when things get hardest? He invites these two friends, these two disciples of his, to stay with him as he prays through the night, knowing that he’s about to be arrested, he’s about to be crucified. He knows this is the darkest moment in his life. And he invites these people. We call them the disciples. He invites these friends of his to stay with him as he prays to the night, and they keep falling asleep. And the way the writer of Matthew records this moment, he says that he awakened Jesus, Jesus awakened Peter, and said to him, could you not stay awake with me for even one hour? Again, is there a challenge to Peter to become a better person, bear, and more faithful friend, likely possibly? Is there also, though, the desire in Jesus for his friend to be with him when it’s hardest and darkest? See that human reading of Jesus doesn’t just normalize the need that you and I have for other people, and actually lifts that up and says, part of what it means to be a whole person is to need the people around you, especially when it’s hardest and darkest. And if that’s the kind of humanity that we are called to by the person of Christ, then maybe that’s the kind of humanity we want to or ought to actually approach other people with, that the issues people are facing and the weights they are carrying, are not just obstacles to a more fulfilling experience of other people, but they are in fact, invitations to help the people around us carry their wounds and their shadows the way we would like the people around us to help us carry ours that it is, in fact, a gift to share in the struggles of those around us. So while it can be sometimes impossible to know the exact details and the exact nature of the details of someone else’s struggle, we can assume that they are as human as we are. So may it be so of us that we don’t become more nervous about or ashamed of or afraid of depression and anxiety. Instead, may we become more patient, more kind, more forgiving, more long-suffering, less transactional, and more purely thankful. For the raw gift is to no other people at all. May we live at a slower and less utilitarian pace in relationship to other people, and may we celebrate their full humanity, which includes their limitations and struggles and dark corners, the way we are taught in the Christian tradition to celebrate the humanity of Jesus.


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