Tag Archives: sadness

How to Sit With Sadness at Christmas: A Guest Post

Today, Elisabeth Klein guest posts about navigating through the Christmas season when you are not feeling “merry.” Welcome her!

I went through a period of feeling lost. Sad. Blah. Passion-less. I purchased a book to help me work through the sad state I was in and I was clicking right along. I did everything it told me to do: I came up with a life timeline, listed the negative points, processed the redemption that has come from each, and decided upon my five primary roles. This was all good and fine; I felt like I was accomplishing something.

And then…and then I hit a wall.

So I did what I usually do when I hit a wall: I spent some time with my mentor. And I was telling her about this process that I was making myself go through and how, when I got to the step where it asked what my ambitions were – how I wanted to live out my life in each of my five roles – how I hit a wall and couldn’t think of anything to write down under any of them, after thinking and praying about it for several days.

I told her that for the past twenty years, I’ve had various passions. Mothering young children, then women’s ministry, then social justice. That I’d poured myself into each of these things, wrote about these things, been an advocate for these things. But that right then, I didn’t have a passion for anything.

And she said, “I have your answer.”

“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”

And then she said something like this, “Years ago, when people lost someone they loved, it was expected that they would mourn for a year. They were given black arm bands to wear.  They even put black wreathes on their front doors. They were to rest and grieve and heal. They even had places in the middle of their town called Melancholy Park where they would be allowed to go and just sit.  Can you imagine? No one would bother them, no one made fun of them, no one pushed them to get back into their regular lives. They were not only allowed but encouraged to do the grieving work, for a year.”

I sat there, tears streaming down my face, not even four months past my divorce at the time.

She continued, “You have lost something big. Picture yourself with a black arm band. Let yourself rest. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself heal. I’ll let you know if I think you’re not doing enough. But right now, just rest. Because if you don’t do the work now, it’ll come out eventually.”

I went home and put that book away. The process of finding my new place, my next chapter, my next thing, would wait a few months. (Okay, many months.) Because in that moment, I had the deeper work of rest to accomplish. How I wished I could live in Melancholy Park.  (She says we can only visit…)

Is this you this Christmastime? Do you need permission to visit Melancholy Park? You have it. I’m giving it to you. Go rest and be sad.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. –Psalm 34:18

God, I am sad. Sadness is hanging over me like a cloak that is too heavy for me to wear. Please meet me in Melancholy Park. Please help me not feel guilty for feeling this way. Please help me walk through it with your grace and mercy. Amen.

If this post resonated with you, Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal would be your companion through this season.

Elisabeth Klein is the grateful wife to Richard and grateful mom and stepmom to five. She writes, speaks and mentors women in difficult marriages, those going through divorce, single moms, those dating post-divorce, and those who are remarried and stepmothers. You can find her at http://www.elisabethklein.com.

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When God Speaks But The Fulfillment Appears Incomplete

Only a week ago, a weekend full of multi-sensory worship began the “annual” reflection of Jesus’ resurrection. As a pastor, I am familiar with the challenge of trying to bring the message found in the resurrection to those in our midst in fresh ways. Truth is Truth. Yet, in a culture that is surrounded by plenty to veil the raw implication of Jesus’ invitation to Kingdom living, the truth loses its urgency. Reframing the account of Jesus’ resurrection gives us new perspectives.

Traditionally, the Holy week observances exhort us to reflect on events of Jesus’ last days. Typically, we recognize and recount Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But what about Saturday? Why, as Christians, do we brush off that “extra” day? The Jews recognize Saturday as the Sabbath day. However; for those of us who follow Christ, the Sabbath transitioned to Sunday. Perhaps the implications of what that in-between day meant to those closest to him do not even cross our minds. We know what happened on Sunday. But I’m guessing they were left:

Reeling from the gut wrenching events witnessed the day before. Had the words uttered by Jesus as they lived under his leadership adequately prepared them for the reality of his crucifixion? How do you set aside the images captured in your mind? On what do you draw in order to move your legs forward from their state of “paralysis?”

Pondering why they felt compelled to risk everything to follow this man who claimed to be the Messiah. Certainly others had claimed the same title in the past. Yet, what were the convincing characteristics of Jesus? Peter, in his second letter, reflects on what his eyes observed.

16For we did not follow cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the power andcoming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we wereeyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice from the Majestic Glory said to Him, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”…

Hoping: that Jesus was right. “I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.” (John 15:18-20)

Believing: All the promises poured over them by Jesus including: “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” (John 15:25-27)

Can we not empathize with the disciples as they wrestled with the tension of faith in the face of dreams unfulfilled?  It points to our humanity. One that cannot grasp the unfathomable character of God.

In visiting my great nephew a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the stage of human development when the existence of objects (and people) within a baby’s sphere, only claim existence if they are seen.  Anxiety appears in the wide eyes of a five month old when the mind realizes the person in view is not the parent. Their sustainer, provider, source of life. The mouth begins to quiver, the eyebrows furrow and tears form in the pockets of the lid….until a rotation of the body points to the one whom for whom they long.

Perhaps, like an infant, our eyes and mind, and heart often find themselves disconnected. Have you ever heard the Holy Spirit speak to you a word about your future but later find your ability to see it waning? Dreams planted in your heart that seem to have failed to bear fruit?

Like the disciples, we are left wondering and seeking Jesus. Though our hearts bear evidence of an undeniable connection, our eyes fail to sense him. We haven’t rotated our view. We are looking at the place we expect him to show up. But he hasn’t moved. We’ve been consumed with waiting for Jesus to appear according to our assumptions.

If we are still, we will live into that moment of transition from quivering lips and teary eyes to abundant rejoicing at the reunion. And the reminder that our perspectives fail us. He is always here.

Where have you been expecting to see Jesus? How can you rotate your view?