“It’s not your fault”: Jesus, forgiveness, and Robin Williams

“Good Will Hunting”

One of the hardest things for people to do is forgive themselves. Compassionate connection, one person to another, can be a way people can touch the pain of wrongs done to them, or by them, and begin to let that go.

Robin Williams, the comic genius and actor of great insight who died today, was able to show that deep, deep capacity for connection that can heal.

Williams played a grieving therapist in the film Good Will Hunting  and in this scene he tells Will Hunting, the gifted young man whom he is counseling who has been so grievously abused, “It’s not your fault.”

Watch Robin Williams’s eyes in this clip:

There is a ring of truth to this portrayal, perhaps from the depths of what Williams himself struggled with in his own life. Williams apparently committed suicide after struggling over many years with addiction and depression. As the therapist, Williams is offering the kind of compassionate connection is also at the heart of the healing ministry of Jesus, as in Matthew 9:

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered.

So many people I know are “weary and scattered” and cannot find a healing connection to another person. Sometimes, this is because people internalize a sense that they are worthless and at fault, when it is in fact the harms done to them that have created this sense that ‘I am not worthy of love.’

I am sorry for the struggles of Robin Williams life, but I am grateful for this film and for the piercing portrayal of the healing capacity of compassionate connection. I believe this kind of art itself heals, and it is a gift, among so many others, that Robin Williams gave the world.

About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am a Professor of Theology and former President of Chicago Theological Seminary; I blog here, at the Huffington Post, and at other venues. I am a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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3 Responses to “It’s not your fault”: Jesus, forgiveness, and Robin Williams

  1. Thank you for this powerful posting…”It’s Not Your Fault” is a liberating message.

  2. Stacy Ryan says:

    Reblogged this on Theolo-Gee! and commented:
    Are you able to say to yourself “It’s not your fault?”

  3. Hepburn3 says:

    A lovely post Susan.
    Thanks for doing it for Robin Williams was a gift of an actor and comedian.
    And thanks so much for your blog, it means a lot and helps me.
    love and God’s blessings to you and yours. : )

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