In light of the recent death of the beloved Robin Williams, it has inspired me to share my own story on addiction and depression. Robin Williams was a sparkle in a world of ordinary, we see in him the handiwork of God, to bring humor to the world and to give us hope. Just as we see Robin, every person on this earth, is a wonderful masterpiece. It is hard to believe that someone so uplifting, hopeful and beautiful could come to such a sad and unexpected end. We are glorious creatures who live in a dark world, and have an inner darkness of sin and self-destruction. The lie is that we are alone. The truth is, we are all like Robin.
I am Robin.
I often tell a joke of the first time I attended a 12-Step program at my church. With full gusto, I attended my first group and said, “Hello My Name is Laci and I am a workaholic”. And then true to the struggle, I missed the next group because I worked late. At the time, I thought I struggled with work, but over time I realized that was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Hello, My Name is Laci and I struggle with addiction, anxiety and depression”.
I grew up a straight A student, never dated, and set to be “good” on all standards set by my honor student peers. I say peers, because my family of origin struggled with depression, anger issues, anxiety and addiction. As much as I strived to be “different”, the emotional burden of being called “prude” and “rigid” from family and friends chipped away at my self-esteem and planted a seed of doubt that leered in the back of my mind. As a teen, my parents divorced, so I went to school and in the evenings would help my single mom with my younger siblings or worked evening shifts at my after school job. I felt it was my duty to be responsible for the young lives of my siblings who looked up to me. In the turmoil of my parents’ divorce, I needed to be a rock, I needed to follow rules, I needed consistency, in a world gone mad.
A year after I graduated high school, I was encouraged by my stepfather to pursue applying again to colleges, since I had decided to stay at home and help with the family than accept any offers from universities. With my stepdad to “take care” of home, I felt the freedom to pursue a life of my own. Although this freedom was an amazing breath of fresh air, it soon became apparent that the foundation of morality I had based my life on was a house of cards. One day, I randomly told a joke, and the sound of others laughing, made me realize that I could be funny. I could bring joy to others. I was hooked. As I went to parties or social outings, I began to engage in the accepted college experience of drinking. I had always struggled with anxiety and alcohol would calm my nerves and allow me to “let go”. My new sense of humor and good nature, not only became my way with relating to others, but it also was the joy and hope I needed to hear as well.
As much “fun” as this lifestyle became, at the same time, I would experience deep depression when I found myself alone and sober. In high school, I found my identity in academic achievement but, in college, I found my identity in men. Or should we say, lack of men. You see, I was the pursuer. I would memorize the guy’s class schedule, join all the group outings he attended, and made sure to be next to the guy in class, so he would surely get to know me.
I thank the Lord now for allowing that plan to miserably fail, while protecting me at the same time. You see, these guys were good guys who respectfully treated me as a friend and were honest about their intentions. I would be crushed to be put into the “friend” zone as the "funny girl” and would wonder what I was doing wrong. I had read every subscription to the latest magazines (oh what wisdom!) on how to become “the one” and not “the buddy”, but to no avail. Failure in relationships led to desperation and deep depression. I was the life of the party, who felt like a fake and failure.
After I graduated college, I started my first professional job and had less time to hang out with my college buddies, but still remained good friends with the bottle. As I miserably failed at my first job (and becoming the “green” funny girl), I would go home and self-medicate to ease the despair. At the time, I knew about the Lord, Christianity and would even pick up the Bible and read verses. When I read those verses they seemed so far away from me and I would pray to the Lord for my desires like a kid sitting on Santa’s lap. God felt so far away and so irrelevant. I was hurting and I did not know how to bring myself out of the despair. I continued to think, if I could only find the right guy, that this feeling would go away. I would not be struggling with loneliness, the realities of a job that paid 27K a year (Hello Ramen Noodles!), he would rescue me and bring me to the life that I desired. It took a while to realize this desire for a man to fulfill me, would never happen. I was trying to fill a void, that only the Lord could fill.
As some of you know my testimony, God used co-workers to invite me to church and as I was stuck in a 5:00 traffic jam when I heard the words that spoke straight to my heart. The voice on the radio was talking about how the Lord loves us in our brokenness. He knows every wound, every sorrow and gave his life for us. As I realized the truth of who I was, I broke out in tears, humbled that the Lord could love a wreck like me. He knew I would cry myself to sleep, He knew I drank to numb the pain, He knew that He had given me the gift of humor, to serve as my only source of hope on dark days.
You see that day, I had to face reality. I had to stare at my brokenness and addictions in the face. I was not going to be able to get myself out of this one. I had to face the reality that I was powerless over my addictions and that I was unable to manage my own life. I had to face the reality of this continuous struggle, and that I needed to give it to the Lord and allow others to keep me accountable.
The life I had chosen was bringing destruction and death to my life. I needed help, forgiveness and hope. You see, facing reality, means humbling yourself before the Lord. I began to understand the Beatitude that I had heard for years “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. For years, I thought that had to do with people without means, but I now understood that it was people who humbly realized that they can not "do life" on their own.
Addiction is inside of us, because we are all sinners, broken to the core. When speaking about the cause of addiction, Robin stated it well, “it’s not caused by anything, it’s just there. It's latent, it waits, it lays and waits, for a time, when you think ‘It’s fine now, I’m okay.’ And then Beep – Next thing you know it’s not okay, things aren’t going so well" . The tough reality is that the sin and addiction is inside of us all, and no matter how much we try to do it in our own strength, just as Robin said, the sin waits for our moments of weakness. The poor in spirit fall down to their knees and realize that they are powerless, but they are not alone. My pride had to face the reality of Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” You see, I had grown weary trying to do the right thing and I had grown weary fighting the sin inside me. I had come to the realization that I could not do this life on my own, no matter how hard I tried.
Robin never found true hope. It hurts all of us to see him go, because we see him as the beautiful creature God made him to be, but he could not see it. Friend, the good news is there is hope and there is a God who if you put your trust in Him, will take away the burden of your struggles and will bring you true joy and strength. Let us focus on that old Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  We have a God, who longs to pick us up out of our despair, loves us, and wraps His arms around us.
The past eight years, has been incredibly difficult and incredibly blessed beyond belief. I won’t tell you it was easy. To be completely vulnerable with biblical community (and trust me – it took me awhile to understand what it means to jump in with others) - intimacy with others was terrifying. I find myself continually leaning on my old tricks of humor and distraction, to keep others from seeing the real me. But over time, thank goodness, He used wisdom around me to continually call me out in my areas of weakness and point out to me, when I am headed back to old behaviors. I have so much peace and joy in my life, that I can barely recognize the girl I once was. I am humble enough to realize, that the sin is there, just like Robin said, waiting for a moment of weakness. It is only Christ, accountability and knowing His truth, that I can speak to that sin and struggle and give it to the Lord.
If you are struggling with sin, depression, or addiction, you are not alone. In fact, it means that you are starting to realize that you are just like the rest of us. There is hope. There is Life.
You see, left to my own wisdom, I am Robin.
In knowing and walking with Christ, I am Forgiven, I am Hopeful, and I am Redeemed.
If you are struggling today, we are praying for you and encourage you to reach out to others:
 Ephesians 2:10
 Matthew 5:3
 Matthew 5:4