Tears of a Clown

Robin Williams
The world lost one of its greatest comedians when Robin Williams lost his battle with depression today. My heart hurt when I heard the news, and I thought back to a song that touched my heart back in 1967. “Tears of a Clown” was a number one hit in both the US and England. I could relate to the lyrics and sang it at least a thousand times while in high school. I still find myself singing it when the world gets me down.

In case you aren’t familiar with the song, here are the lyrics written by Smokey Robinson to go with music scored by Stevie Wonder.

“Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public
But when it comes down to fooling you
Now honey that’s quite a different subject
But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Really I’m sad, oh I’m sadder than sad
You’re gone and I’m hurtin’ so bad
Like a clown I pretend to be glad

Now there’s some sad things known to man
But ain’t too much sadder than
The tears of a clown, when there’s no one around
Uh hum, oh yeah baby

Now if I appear to be carefree
It’s only to camouflage my sadness
And honey to shield my pride I try
To cover this hurt with a show of gladness
But don’t let my show convince you
That I’ve been happy since you
Decided to go, oh I need you so
I’m hurt and I want you to know
But for others I put on a show, ooh yeah

{repeat CHORUS}

Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my surface hid
Smiling in the public eye
But in my lonely room I cry
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around, oh yeah, baby baby
Now if there’s a smile on my face
Don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Don’t let this smile I wear
Make you think that I don’t care
When really I’m sad…I’m hurting so bad…”

Like Pagliacci, the cheers of the world encourage me to hide my hurt and forget my pain. I didn’t know Robin Williams personally, but I spent countless hours laughing with him. The mention of his name made me grin, and his movies made me laugh out loud each time I watched them. I hope I will continue to enjoy his incredible work, but I can’t help but cry tonight as I think of the pain he endured while keeping us laughing.

It’s not easy to keep the world happy, especially when your heart is broken. We all pretend to be glad when we are sad at some point in our lives, but for some it is a never-ending battle. I spent far too much of my life putting on a happy face and ended up missing a great deal because of it. I’m learning it’s best to be real and let people see my tears. When I do, I find that hurt is part of everyone’s journey. I’m learning to cry out to and with others, and it’s changing my heart.

There is truly nothing sadder than the tears of a clown, especially when those tears flood the soul and stop the heart. I have known deep sadness in my life, and I’ve considered death as an escape twice. I thank God that I did not end up drowning in my sorrow either time. I’m learning to let others know when I’m hurting or tired or need a hand. Having loving friends and family who hear my heart and love me as I am makes all the difference. I wish that were true for all who face deep sadness or battle depression. I pray I will look more deeply into the hearts of those I love and look more closely into their eyes to see if there is a tear hiding behind their smile.

Cry Out to God

I have alluded to the service for Andy several times in my posts this week, so Pastor John graciously agreed to share his notes so I could pass along the healing words that helped me so very much as I searched for answers this week. For those of you also seeking to understand why, I pray you find comfort in these words. This brief post is but a very small shadow of the powerful service. I wish you could hear the message of truth and forgiveness spoken with love from the heart of Andy’s and my dear friend.

December 18, 2012

John Alden Tagliarini

(Taken from the service for Andrew Ivor “Andy” Parris)

“Why?” Moses asked, “O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt?” (Exodus 32:11 NASB)

The psalmist asked, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1 NASB)

We have to ask, “Why God?”

We have to ask, “Why, Andy, did you take your own life?”

And, we have to admit to no satisfying answers.

In fact, the only answer I can find here is to encourage you – in whatever trials you are going through – I encourage you to know that suicide is not the answer. Call someone, call out to God!

We usually acknowledge our lack of vocabulary as we try to address circumstances such as these. Then, without sufficient words, we continue speaking as if the sound of our voices might somehow sooth our souls and prompt some insight regarding the meaning of it all. My sense is that God is grieving with us. His anger is kindled over the evil results of our deeds.

God gives life. God desires that we enjoy abundant life. Yet, God also gives free will. The consequences of our choices sometimes leave scars. Jesus bears just such scars. His hands, His feet, His side, His brow show the results of evil running its course. Yet, God forgave, and He forgives! This is the only grace I can offer this afternoon, God’s love.

Someday, God will bring into His world the fulness of abundant life which He began in Christ Jesus. Until that day, let us find ways to affirm life, to accept others, to listen deeply and to stand firm against all that destroys the life God intended. Let us trust God to heal our hurt, to love and to forgive.

Speaking as we have of love and life and suffering and pain, God reminded me of the picture painted by the prophet Isaiah of the suffering of our Lord. Though stark, Isaiah’s words are laced with hope. It is the hope that God heals us through the suffering of our redeemer. It is the hope that Jesus bears our sins away.

Let us hear the word of the Lord.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
 And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
 He was crushed for our iniquities; 
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, 
Each of us has turned to his own way;
 But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all 
To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
 Yet He did not open His mouth; 
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
 So He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:4-7 NASB)

As a result of the anguish of His soul,
 He will see it and be satisfied;
 By His knowledge the Righteous One, 
My Servant, will justify the many,
 As He will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11 NASB)

In Christ Jesus, God bears our sins away and offers forgiveness and love and comfort.

With the psalmist, we ask, “Why?” The psalmist answered his own question with honest trust in his God. He said, “O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed” (Psalm 22:2-5 NASB)

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NASB)

Whenever God’s people are hurting or are in trouble, they call out to Him for deliverance. The people of Israel experienced times when it felt as though all the blessings of God, all the good work of growth in the Promised Land after Exodus from Egypt was wasted, and that God had rejected them. Yet, the people called upon God. They prayed that God would shine His face upon them in renewed blessings.

Hear some verses from just such a psalm of petition.

Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel,
 You who lead Joseph like a flock; you who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!” (Psalm 80:1 NASB)

..stir up Your power 
And come to save us!” (Psalm 80:2b NASB)

You have fed them with the bread of tears,
 And You have made them to drink tears in large measure.” (Psalm 80:5 NASB)

We cry out to God today. “O Lord of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved” (Psalm 80:19 NASB)

We have an affirmation of faith, penned by the shepherd David in Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd,
 I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;
 He guides me in the paths of righteousness
 For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I fear no evil, for You are with me; 
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
 You have anointed my head with oil;
 My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
 And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. “ (Psalm 23 NASB)