Floating in a Sea of Icebergs

People are complicated. I’m sure that’s not news to you.

I think about my own life and the image I always try to project: polished, confident, intelligent. You know the drill.

icebergs - Alaskan Dude Flickr
Photo by Alaskan Dude, Flickr.com

But I’m an iceberg and so are you.

There’s what we let other people see, and then there are all those other layers and dimensions we keep below the surface: our past, our weaknesses, our fears. To be seen as who we aspire to be requires that those aspects of who we are remain hidden. But all that other “stuff” is still there below the surface.

Being in relationship with each other – unless we keep it strictly superficial – is going to be tricky, maybe even dangerous. We’re sure to bump up against each other and those layers we didn’t know were there for others will bruise us, while ours will bloody them.

The loss of comedic great Robin Williams this week really drove this point home to me. Here was a guy who brought so much joy and laughter to his audiences and seemed to always have a funny retort and positive outlook.

I think I could have been friends with him if our worlds had intersected in some way. No doubt I am not alone in that. He was a rare presence.

But he is quoted as having once said, “You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear.” He chose to use comedy and acting as his defense and referred to it as his way of “expunging the demon”.

Beneath the surface of his exuberance and creative brilliance, though, he struggled mightily with that fear, that “demon”. Ultimately, it appears to have proved too much for him. Depression, substance abuse, sadness. It seems he couldn’t keep that part of the iceberg submerged any longer and he chose to leave this sea of humanity. What a crushing loss for his family and all who were touched by him.

We will never really know what it was like for him to fight that demon. We only know it defeated him and we are the poorer.

The truth is we are all leading challenging and often difficult lives. What shows on the surface is only one dimension of all we’re going through and sadly, some are in danger of falling apart completely without our even realizing it.

While it’s dangerous to get up close to each other – we might get rejected, embarrassed, or inconvenienced – the risk is greater when we keep our distance.

As Christians, we are called to community: real, authentic, God-honoring community.

Humor is a start, but we have to go deeper to offer hope to our fellow strugglers, the hope of a genuine relationship with the true God.

It’s really not an option in this sea of icebergs.

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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

4 thoughts on “Floating in a Sea of Icebergs”

  1. Diane you have hit the nail on the head.
    We never know what’s going on in each other’s lives because we are busy pushing the iceberg down, trying to hide the crags and irregularities -and how big the hidden part is. Meantime our energy could have been better spent connecting with one another.
    Robin Williams’ death is a sobering reminder than none of us are immune to the difficult things in life. I grieve for the silent suffering he went through, and the lifelong wake his suicide will have on his children.

  2. That’s a great visual – pushing the iceberg down. We do expend enormous energy doing that when what we really need is connection with others to carry us through the difficult seasons. No doubt Robin Williams experienced his own private agony that we will never know about. If only someone could have helped him. Such a tragic loss of a brilliant mind and valued soul.

Your feedback is welcome!