I am a notoriously optimistic positive person (the sickening kind). I hate feeling sadness and grief. I have this weird belief that if I go through a difficult moment in life and I get all sad and stuff that I am a failure at Christianity. Yup not joking.
So when I went through my recent tragedy and I got depressed. I felt like a failure for feeling depressed. I started apologizing to God for not being happy through my storm. I felt again a mess.
But He’s been teaching me about pain and joy being like family members to each other. These emotions need each other although both really don’t want to hang out with the other because each thinks the other is cramping their style (or swag). Isn’t that so typical of family relationships? Often family members love each other but there are moments when they may not want the other there all the time.
Rob Bell, Christian author, says beautifully that “People moving towards each other, lamenting together, this is where God is.” Isn’t that beautiful? As we express sorrow and our pain together, God is present. We need to know what pain is to be able to recognize joy. “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet, poet.
Margaret Manning Shull author and teacher of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries describes perfectly the description of the tug of war for Christians. She says, “For Christians, ‘being happy’ can often resemble the language of victorious living and resurrection, to the exclusion of Jesus’s matter-of-fact instruction to his followers that in this world ‘you will have trouble, but I have overcome this world.’(1) I too easily forget that many who have gone before me as that great cloud of witnesses did not yet receive what was promised.(2) They, too, lived in a land of ‘maybe,’ and in the bittersweet juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.”
So let’s welcome the full range of emotions as we deal with difficulties and be ok with feeling those feelings. Brene Brown, best-selling author, says: “When you numb your pain you also numb your joy.” Sadness and pain have their time and season. But don’t give up. Remember God has you even as you are feeling the full extent of loss and pain. Each difficult time has the potential for you to learn the tools needed for the next difficult event. And when the joyful moments come (because they will) allow yourself to feel that too and appreciate its time with you. It’s time for us to welcome the dynamic of joy and pain at the family table together.