Archive for the ‘Sadness’ Tag

Death of Hope   6 comments

As Kimberly and I walked our dogs yesterday, I shuffled through my disjointed thoughts and feelings, arranging and rearranging them, trying to sort out with her the contours of my despair.  For two weeks I have felt crushed by the racial divides in our country, but unable to speak, silenced by the angry retorts that always come.  “Why do I feel such deep despair in hearing that dissent?” I asked Kimberly.  “It’s natural to be discouraged,” I went on, “since I smart when my thoughts are rejected and I grieve for those condemned by the critical reactions.  I can see a handful of reasons to be disheartened, but my anguish is so much deeper than that and crushes me at hearing just one or two retorts.  Why do I despair?”

After an hour of trying to fit the emotional pieces together it became clear that I was suffering from the collapse of my worldview.  I have struggled for two decades with my own impotence to change the world in some small way (as I mentioned here),  but I faced that personal uselessness by clinging to a broader hope for the world–that others would bring the change I could not.  If I was not a player on the winning team, I could still cheer on the good guys from the bleachers.  This year it has slowly been dawning on me that my hope is misplaced.  My team will not save the day, we cannot save the day, we are not saviors.  In fact, we are all in as much need of a Savior as the rest of the world around us.  We are all broken.  And along with our broken world we await the day of redemption.

I don’t mean to suggest that we can bring no good to the world.  We must work to bind up our little tattered corners of society, but ultimately it is a patchwork affair, a jerry-rigging until the Great Healer comes to bring us true and full peace at last.  As grace-infused people, we do not offer a resolution on this day, but a resolve until that day, we hold up a light of hope in this dark, troubled world.  That doesn’t seem much like the “Christmas spirit” of sleigh bells, bright lights, and belly-laughing Santas, but perhaps I misunderstand the true meaning of advent hope.

“Oh, come, oh, come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear.”  Those words rang so true to my forlorn spirit, that they brought me to tears this week, tears of heartache but also of hope: “Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”  We cling to the first advent in expectation of the second.

Posted December 11, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal

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Sadness Harmonized   10 comments

Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

 

We sang this mournful spiritual in church last week.  Loneliness is miserable, so why do I feel uplifted by this song?

Is there something in music or poetry or art that somehow ennobles or beautifies sadness?

Or is it the sharing of sorrow that salves the sting?

Perhaps it is getting outside of your experience to look on it with some level of detachment?

Or maybe it is the courage that is displayed by facing into the pain rather than running or hiding?

Why is the experience of a broken heart terrible, but the story of a broken heart strengthening?

**Please give me your thoughts**

Posted April 22, 2014 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Blessed Are the Cheerful   17 comments

sad womanMost churches are uncomfortable with the melancholy.  This has been a source of pain and confusion for Kimberly, and a spiritual stumbling block.  The church’s unmitigated focus on an optimistic perspective (which it confuses with faith) seems dishonest and feels oppressive to her.  This came up a few days ago and I responded, “It’s really only the churches in this country which are so upbeat.  The American culture has won the church over.  It is not as though Christians started reading their Bibles and said, “Oh, look at this!  We are all supposed to be positive thinkers with permanent smiles.”  If an American had written the Beatitudes, they would start out, “Blessed are the poor rich in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn are cheerful: for they shall be comforted need no comfort.”

Sad-Girl-lYes, you can mourn in church… briefly, over something big, with repeated claims of  steadfast faith, but if you don’t feel better soon because of our sympathy, we take offense.  How quickly does God expect you to get over your grief?  The benefits from the beatitudes seem to be scheduled for the next life.  After all, when do the poor “inherit the earth” and the persecuted receive a great “reward in heaven”?  It appears the sorrowing find full and lasting consolation only at the resurrection.  Jesus does not see the melancholy as spiritually weak or faith-less, but as blessed.  Instead of a condition to avoid or get past, sadness is a door into spiritual blessing.  Perhaps instead of avoiding or trying to fix the mournful, we might learn something from them, something about what it means to love a broken world.

Posted May 2, 2013 by janathangrace in thoughts

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