I just can’t help but write my thoughts and feelings about the news today that actor Heath Ledger has died. And to be honest, it is not because it is Heath Ledger specifically, but because it is a talented, intelligent, and young star whom I have gotten to know somehow through my television screen. Maybe it is because I know something about them that is lost with their demise or their destruction. Or maybe because they had become human to me through their artistic talent. I suppose what breaks my heart about it so much is that these actors and musicians become like friends to us over the years even without them personally knowing us. The music they create or the character they play often captures a glimse or a piece of us in them and so we relate to them. Some more than others. And since we relate to them, since they captured a slice of something within our own spirit, when they die, we hurt as if that slice of us has died or we atleast hurt because we feel like a friend or an aquaintance has died. It is just as tragic when someone I have never met or heard of has died or hurt themselves, but I suppose I feel more when I know them. I can imagine how much more I would feel if I were their sister or daughter or mother or true friend.
My feelings about Heath Ledger dying is that he is one more person I have gotten to “know” through his artistic work who has proven himself to be human. If it is not Heath Ledger who died at 28 from a possible drug overdose, it is Brittney Spears living dangerously and obviously struggling against some miserable conflict within herself, or it is Anna Nicole Smith dying of multiple drug overdoses or Michael Jackson destroying his body with plastic surgeries or Pamela Anderson marrying and divorcing her umteenth husband. We have actors and musicians doing drugs, sleeping around, marrying and divorcing scores of times, and essentially proving that even with all their money and fame, they still don’t have the answers and are just as lost as the rest of us. Some of my most favorite musicians and actors have died or hurt themselves by their own fault or the faults of others: Jim Morrison, Tupac Shakur, Biggy Smalls, Bradly Nowell, Kurt Cobain, and John Lennon. Or River Pheonix, Chris Farley, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix, Freud, Billie Holiday, or Elvis Presley. So many people with so much knowledge of what we go through in this life, and equally broken by their decisions and the decisions of others no matter how much money or fame or power they had.
People have tried it all to protect ourselves from pain or reach personal fulfillment and a legacy for ourselves. We have tried money, power, and fame. We have tried even the opposite: giving away all our possessions, power, and fame. We have tried to make many friends and no friends at all. We have tried to be connected to our families and also to become estranged. We have tried indulging in all our animalistic desires and then tried supressing all of them. Nothing has worked.
But I know the answer. I know the one thing that will bring us peace, give us strength, protect our souls and our minds and our hearts, and essentially give us a happy and peaceful immortality once this life is over. My christian friends are nodding their heads right now, saying “yes, yes.” My non-christian friends are shaking their heads right now going, “no, no, not her too.” But the answer is yes. Jesus Christ.
Our creator made us. He knows the inner most workings of our souls. He designed us with the gifts and talents and emotions we have. He knows us. And a designer knows how to keep its designs running as planned. A designer knows how to fix any problems that the design may develop. He knows what we need to do to maximize the most amount of purpose in this life because he is God. And yet he even knows what it is like to be human because he came down in human form to show his mercy on us. He knows what it is like to feel joy and sorrow. He knows what it is like to be worshiped and adored one day and then mocked and ridiculed the next. He knows what it is like to be savagely killed by some of the very people who once called themselves friends. Some of us don’t want to listen to stories about him or the guide lines he asks us to follow because we don’t want to change our ways even if our ways are hurting ourselves or others. Some of us don’t know we are hurting ourselves or others because we are so lost we can’t even see it. We don’t want to be held accountable for actions. We don’ t want to stop living for ourselves.
There are two answers to the question about how Jesus can change our lives. One is to accept him as our Lord and Savior. That will grant us eternal freedom and happiness. The next is to listen to his Holy Spirit that comes with him when we ask him to enter our lives. That Holy Spirit, which was also breathed into the authors of the bible and of course, Jesus himself when he speaks in the Gospel, will guide us toward making the right choices in our lives that will benefit us and others the most in the long run. And more so in the afterlife. Some of the advice goes against our very animal nature. But that advice is for our own protection. When I look back at the desires I have and the ones I have given into in my past. When I look at the ones that Jesus or the God inspired words of the bible have spoken against, I can see the consequences of my decisions. And I can see that they did indeed hurt me and others. So all the while in those moments when I wanted what I wanted and did as I pleased, while it did give me momentary satisfaction, afterward it only hurt me or someone else. I think many of us regardless of faith know that momentary satisfaction is never worth eternal unsatisfaction.
God doesn’t say it will be easy. And there will be plenty of people who will mock you and mock him. But God says that if we stick with him, he will protect our souls. Now I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have eternal satifaction with him after this life than just momentary satisfaction (but also living with the unsatisfactory consequences of those decisions even in this life) and eternal misery afterward because I denied my very own creator and didn’t want to have a relationship with him.
Every person on this planet, Christian or non-christian, struggles with selfish instincts into which they often give. God loves us too much to force us to do what is right. He wants us to want to. Over the course of my life, I have struggled with depression, alcohol abuse, selfishness, gossiping, laziness, vanity, stealing, hate, and anger. I have sinned against my body, the very temple that God made for my soul to dwell in during my time here. I am not some self-rightious Christian, here to judge all the lost. That is the Messiah’s duty and the other’s to whom he appoints that position. But I want to help others. I want to share the news that I know and believe with all my heart.
I know for a fact that if more people not just believed in God (I believe that people are lost, but I don’t want to follow them or obey them), but accepted him into their hearts and asked him to guide their lives and honestly tried to follow him (we will fail at times because that is our nature), we would not be so lost as a species.
We are selfish by nature. And with that, we want to do things our way and we will come up with a bizzilion compromises and even justify our defiance of God and following him by reminding ourselves of all the good things we do. We tell ourselves that we are not as bad as others and therefore we don’t need God to guide us. But we are not perfect because we are not God. But we will become better people than we could have ever imagined ourselves to be, if we just could let go of our need to be the god of our own lives. And let our designer reprogram us back to the way he wants us to live.