There is a time and a place for gratitude, for thanksgiving. There is also a time and a place for mourning and sorrow, for anger and pain. I'm glad that I get to help make space for the latter, for people to simply feel what they feel without judgment or condemnation. Next time you think of saying the words, "Be grateful," ask yourself, "Would I be grateful right now if I were in their shoes, if I felt their pain?"
LETTING GO GIVES US FREEDOM, AND FREEDOM IS THE ONLY CONDITION FOR HAPPINESS. IF, IN OUR HEART, WE STILL CLING TO ANYTHING - ANGER, ANXIETY, OR POSSESSIONS - WE CANNOT BE FREE. ― THÍCH NHẤT HẠNH
"What would happen if you strangled God?" Bob asked me. I sat there as a variety of expressions came across my face, several of which caused Bob to chuckle. Then, I had what may be one of my nerdiest epiphanies ever.
YOU WILL LOSE SOMEONE YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT,AND YOUR HEART WILL BE BADLY BROKEN, AND THE BAD NEWS IS THAT YOU NEVER COMPLETELY GET OVER THE LOSS OF YOUR BELOVED. BUT THIS IS ALSO THE GOOD NEWS. THEY LIVE FOREVER IN YOUR BROKEN HEART THAT DOESN’T SEAL BACK UP. AND YOU COME THROUGH. IT’S LIKE HAVING A BROKEN LEG THAT NEVER HEALS PERFECTLY—THAT STILL HURTS WHEN THE WEATHER GETS COLD, BUT YOU LEARN TO DANCE WITH THE LIMP. — ANNE LAMOTT
...I know, I know. Jesus never really left. What is it the fundamentalist Evangelicals say? "If you feel far from God, God isn't the one who moved." Well maybe that's true. Maybe God doesn't walk away on God's anthropomorphized feet. But since I decided to leave the United Methodist Church and its ordination process in the fall of 2012, God has felt anything but near (save a few exceptions). Recently, however, it feels like God has shown back up... or at least Jesus has.
There are days where I miss Nanny desperately. There are moments where the reality that I will never meet my birth father in this life sets in and I feel something similar to Mack's Great Sadness settle on top of me. There are times where my own brokenness is so tangible that I barely want to leave the bed. Yet in each of these instances, I somehow find God holding onto me, refusing to let go.
I lost the Jesus who is overly concerned with how people identify themselves, with labels or monikers, with inside or outside. I lost the Jesus who thinks that holiness is black and white with clear cut answers and definite rights and wrongs. I lost the Jesus who demands to be white and handsome and flawless. I lost the Jesus who is obsessed with being involved in politics when politics are more concerned with my rights than they are with your needs. I lost the Jesus who has little grace for those who, for one reason or another, find His story less compelling than that of someone else, say Buddha or Mohammed.
Next time you notice yourself waiting, in whatever form it takes place, pay close attention to yourself, your feelings, your breath, and your body. Take note of your thoughts and what effect they have on you. Think about your support system: how are the people you love and who love you waiting alongside you? What strength do they offer, and what gifts do you give in return? Here's the thing: waiting is a universal experience.
Talking with a friend (and professor) the other day about grief, I realized that part of my own unfinished grief has to do with the remaining desire to be straight. To fall in love with a woman. To not cringe (or feel nauseated) at the idea of being intimate with her. I wonder what it would have been like had things turned out differently, but some questions never get answers. Some fantasies never become reality. Some hopes never stand a chance.
When she says, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died," I imagine hers to be a tone of anger, an attitude of contempt. This would not have been a pretty scene to watch. I imagine most of us would have seen Jesus coming, and after seeing the look on Martha's face, would have stepped away, out of earshot. Martha had not only lost her brother, but she'd felt betrayed and let down by her friend—a friend she knew had the power to keep this all from happening. Everything was unraveling, and yet she still manages to maintain her game face.