A Place For Tears
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“…He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl 3:11, NIV)
I don’t want to stay home until the tears have stopped. But in the midst of pew after pew of unmoved faces, my grief does not belong. In the tidy order of “worship,” there seems to be no place for tears. I know this is not what Jesus would have wanted. His life was full of passion – such as love, anger, and grief. And tears of sadness and joy were a part of His daily life. It is really hard to believe that God became fully human, when dry-faced Christians can’t seem to be human themselves.
After the funeral, the flowers, the kind words, the friends checking in, and even strangers asking how you are, comes the emptiness, and the dark void, that no words can really fill. People stop calling. Some are scared to visit. God seems as silent as the house in which I sit, surrounded by memories, which some days, are just too painful to bear. And so there is crying alone. Wondering what to do without that wonderful relationship I had with my wife.
If by chance I do struggle out the door to church, please don’t make me feel as though God’s House is as empty of comfort, as my own. Please, let me grieve amongst you. Let there be a place for my tears at the foot of the cross. Don’t let your own inability to face death keep me from the place where I can come before God with my pain. Don’t ask me how I am when you know my heart is broken, because Ill either have to say nothing, or not mean anything that I say. Allow me space and silence, but don’t let me feel alone.
If you don’t know what to say, (and thats ok), please, don’t just make conversation, that further ignores what I am going through, just hug me, or do some small, practical thing to let me know that I am not alone in my world of grief, no matter how lonely I may actually feel at the time. When I do find the courage to laugh or to be happy, don’t make me feel guilty about it, and tell me that I am not grieving “properly,” because I have not forgotten. Often, I am just trying to capture some little snippet of what my life was like before my wife died.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything “under heaven,” so please, don’t make a spectacle of my grief, and call what you are doing “witnessing.” Just accept me and how I say I feel, as a part of the normal experience of the family of God, at a time when my own family is broken and hurt. Allow me my anger at God. anger is not a sin, and God can take it. There is no need for you to minimize it, sweep it away or smooth it over with pious quips. And please, I beg you, don’t make my pain and my loss as some ethereal “part of God’s plan,” for my life. I am sure that God can work good out of evil, but the God I turn to for comfort, prefers to work good by itself. Just let God explain to me why this happened. Don’t come to me and make excuses for God. THAT just multiplies my grief, and makes the journey almost unbearable sometimes. IMO we do not serve a God of excuses, but we do serve a God who works from a basic principle of love and who can identify with us, in His time, and in His ways, because He has been there Himself. And because Jesus went through it Himself, He can give the specific comfort I now need.
The most important thing I can think of to ask is that I need to be allowed to grieve my own way, and at my own pace. Please don’t try to make me feel like I should “be over it” or that I should “move on” or give me your disapproval on how I try to make sense of my loss, or to make me conform to what you think the community thinks I should be doing. Be understanding and compassionate. This is NOT a time to be “right.” When I say or do things that are a cry for help; I beg of you to try and take some part of my pain upon your shoulders. And please, let there be room for my tears in Christ’s Church.
“[Jesus] was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” (Isa 53: 3-4, NIV).