Saturday, December 12, 2020

Jesus wept. We can, too.

We don’t have to buy into the cultural lie that sadness, anger, and grief are unholy indicators of a lack of faith. In fact, I would argue that a faith that hasn’t wrestled with doubt and grief is in danger of becoming, or has become, atrophied. In scripture, we see a Jesus who wept, got angry about hardened hearts, and was distressed to the point of sweat that fell like drops of blood.

Women are socialized in culture — and particularly in the US American church — to avoid anger. Too often, if we express feelings, we are dismissed as being irrational in a society that worships logical over emotions. Sometimes anger is an appropriate response that can move us into appropriate action. Certainly sadness is an appropriate response to situations that call for lament. Our wealthy society supports doing anything we can to avoid and numb pain, but pain can be transformative. 

Our country is culturally very much like an  Enneagram 3 , with heavy emphasis on success, image, and efficiency, as well as the undervaluing of emotions. If we want to engage with God, others, and ourselves authentically, we must allow and acknowledge emotions—ours and others’. Even those of us who aren’t Enneagram 3s are still absorbing these values from the dominant culture. 

As I have practiced being honest with myself and with God about my feelings—even and especially the ones I’m ashamed of—I have experienced a deeper intimacy with the God who never fails to meet me with compassion and tenderness. God is not uncomfortable with our feelings.

Jesus wept for the loss of His friend, though He must have known that Lazarus would be resurrected. His grief was not an indicator of a lack of faith or hope. It was honesty about His feelings in the present moment. Jesus participated in communal grief when He wept for Jerusalem.

Today, I am grieving personal losses with my family as well as the many losses due to injustice in our country. 2020 has been so heavy. God doesn’t need me to perk up out of a false sense of duty.

All of life is living, dying, and rising. We can grieve the dying even as we look forward to resurrection. Grief and faith are not mutually exclusive. Jesus wept. We can, too.

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