Actor Zachary Levi is known for entertaining audiences through films and shows like “Chuck,” “American Underdog,” and “Shazam!” But he’s now giving fans a raw and vulnerable look into his life.
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Levi, 41, released his new book “Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others” this week, revealing how abuse, chaos, and a failure to learn to love himself plunged him into depression and anxiety. The actor’s struggles came to a head a few years ago after moving to Austin, Texas.
“My particular upbringing and the way that it molded me and shaped me brought me to a lot of these ends,” Levi recently told CBN’s Faithwire, noting how his life suddenly devolved. “I completely fell apart. I was surrounded by darkness [and] had nothing but lies being spewed into my ear.”
He continued, “I really came to the point where I … didn’t want to live … and I didn’t know what to do.”
Watch Levi discuss how he clung to faith and overcame chaos:
Levi said he wanted to “go to sleep and not wake up anymore,” but family members and friends intervened to help guide him along his mental health journey.
Coming to the end of himself, he sought treatment and found healing through a woman who came alongside him and helped him see the value in loving himself and connecting deeper to his faith.
The experience was quite trying for the actor, who was brought up in a Judeo-Christian tradition and always had faith in God. As Levi struggled, that belief was challenged.
“I was so enveloped in the darkness that it was pretty much the first time in my life I could say that I maybe stopped believing there was a God,” he said. “I have always leaned into God and into my faith and trust and followed. I haven’t done it perfectly. But I got to this place where … to feel abandoned and to feel like I didn’t want to live anymore really, really, really shook my faith.”
Flash-forward a few years and Levi said the situation has been “incredibly redeemed.”
As he was completing therapy, he auditioned for “Shazam!” and landed the lead role. After recovery, he shared his mental health journey with fans, which he’s continuing now with “Radical Love.”
“God’s been instrumental in all of it, all along,” he said.
Regardless of where people stand when it comes to believing in God, Levi wants to help people see they are “extensions of God’s love” and that they don’t need to earn that standing.
“You’re a miracle … you’re still a mathematical improbability beyond all measure — that we are spinning around on this ball of mud out in the middle of the universe,” he said.
Levi also spoke about the title of his book, “Radical Love,” explaining the meaning behind the term. He said “actual love is a radical practice” and invoked Jesus’ teachings to illustrate the intended meaning.
“Jesus was saying to love your enemy and pray for your persecutor. This is something that nobody seemingly does,” Levi said. “And [Christ] talks about, to love those who already love you isn’t really love … love is to radically accept someone else exactly as they are, exactly where they’re from.”
The actor said this doesn’t mean people will always agree with those they accept or love, but that people are called to see others through God’s lens.
“These are our enemies, these are our persecutors, but we don’t take the time to acknowledge that they are still also a child of God, that they are still a miracle that is across from us, whether that’s across the aisle, across the faith, across whatever you might find,” he said.
Levi continued, “If we have any chance of making it into a future that is not just really sad and really full of hate and anger and fear, we’ve got to radically accept where people are in their lives.”
He again said this doesn’t mean condoning others’ behavior. In his own life, he said he had to get to a place of radical forgiveness for his mother.
“It took me a lot of healing and a lot of forgiveness to get to the point where I could forgive and love my mother, for example, who was a major contributor to the trauma that I experienced in my life,” he said. “If we want a better world, we’re going to have to radically love each other.”
Find out more in “Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself and Others.”
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