This morning, I read the news that Andrew Koenig's body was found in a park in Vancouver. I also read that Brittany Murphy died from a lethal combination of cold medications, which she was taking properly but her body just couldn't handle. Just two more Hollywood deaths, right? Last weekend, my husband and I watched Michael Jackson's movie "This is It", which is a documentary covering his preparations for his final tour which, as we all know, was not meant to be. I cried.
This guttural reaction to these stories surprised me. I mean, I cried about Haiti and I don't know those people either. But that's different, right? These three were Hollywood stars - people who had everything, people who the media have, and will surely continue to, crucify: for being selfish, careless, and downright "crazy" in MJ's case. in the case of Brittany Murphy, they have already accused of being everything from a drug addict to a brainwashed bride. In MJ's case, for being "weird", eccentric, owning a pet monkey, buying all the rights to all the Beatles songs, having an amusement park in his yard...we know all the "crazy" stories. And in case you haven't heard, his "child molestation" accusers have all admitted that they lied for their parents to get his money - one under force by his very abusive father.
I cried because all of their deaths were preventable, Because these were young people that I "grew up with", because they are my age and people my age aren't supposed to die in parks all alone or from trying to get over a cold at home or trying to get a decent night's sleep.
I cried because it could have been me.
Mostly I cried for their families. How do you handle something so tragic as the death of someone in the very prime of life? How do Michael Jackson's children grow up and thrive and become normal adults when they are - MICHAEL JACKSON's kids? How will they deal with the horrible stories when they start reading them when no one is around to monitor them as they get older? How do Andrew Koenig's parents and friends deal with the grief and guilt that they might have been able to save him from the inner demons of depression? How do Brittany Murphy's family and friends handle the fact that they lost their beloved because she took medications as her doctors instructed?
I pray that they were all Christians. I pray that they are all now with Jesus - singing and dancing and acting out wonderful plays for audience of Our Father. I pray that their deaths won't be brushed under the rug or quickly forgotten, because there is so much to learn from each one.
* Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2
So what if Michael Jackson bought a pet monkey and had an amusement park in his back yard? Let's all admit it, if we had the kind of money that he did - after we gave to the poor and fed the hungry and sheltered the homeless - we'd probably buy some things that others think are "crazy", too. He was robbed of his childhood, he tried to recreate it and be as happy as possible in his own Neverland as an adult. Why? Because he COULD. He also gave millions to his friends and family and charities around the globe. He was also a devoted father who was raising 3 amazing kids, from all accounts, and allowing them something he never had - a beautiful childhood. He also ended nearly every sentence with “God Bless You” to whomever he was talking with, or “it’s all in L O V E - love” We never heard that in the press, huh?
* He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. - Psalm 147:3
Andrew Koenig died from depression. He gave away his belongings, sent a note to his parents, and went into his favorite park, where he felt "at home", and took his own life. Depression is very real. It kills people every day. It is a lonely, horrible disease - I know, I have battled it for 20+ years. I heard John Mayer's song "Heartbreak Warfare" this morning and thought of the tragic discovery yesterday afternoon in Vancouver: "If you want more love, why don't you say so?"....when you're depressed, you can't say "I need more love!" even though that's what you're screaming inside. You feel unworthy of love. I've been where he was, mentally. It's scary and horrible and the only things that got me through those suicidal times was my children and my faith in Jesus Christ - for He does heal the broken-hearted and binds up our wounds. Sometimes depressed people don't know Him, sometimes they do but they are too far gone to turn to Him for healing, sometimes they just need someone to shake them and say "LOOK UP! Look to Jesus!" not "Shake it off, get over it, take a walk - you'll feel better."
In Brittany Murphy's case - we need to learn to be SO careful with medications. This is the saddest example of how even mixing drugs that are considered safe on their own can be deadly. We need to be aware ourselves and teach our children to know their pharmacists as they grow up, to pick up the phone when they are sick and call them - to see if combining an inhaler with a painkiller and an antibiotic - all prescribed by a doctor - is safe.
But most of all, we need to learn to accept people. We need to love them, no matter who they are or what they do for a living – everyone is valuable in the eyes of God, everyone is created and loved by Him, and everyone deserves to know Him and SEE him in us. I have been guilty of joining in the Mob Mentality regarding celebrity stories, and sharing in the gossip and debates about their lives. But these three stories have touched me somehow. They have made me realize that they deserve to be loved as Christ loves us – because no matter what – He loves them too. So while I’m praying for my friends and family, and my leaders and children and the prayer requests from church – I will add the famous in our society to that list. I’ll pray that they ALL come to know Christ, because nothing else in their lives – or ours – is seeing that all people know Jesus.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.