Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blessed Are They That Mourn

Last weekend I was driving through heavy traffic, without the offspring, and thus doing some heavy thinking. And this is the thought (verse) that crossed my mind…

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

You may or may not have heard, but I tore my LCL (lateral collateral ligament) almost 2 weeks ago. I was trucking along on my 7 mile run, with only 1-1/2 miles to go. I tripped on some uneven pavement, flew through the air, and heard a tearing sound. It was not my clothes. Sigh…

In that moment I knew that my summer was going to look drastically different than what I had planned. My summer of triathlon training and races was over.


People have told me that I am handling this very well. I’m not not angry. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to heal.

And it is going to take months to heal. Whether rest and then therapy, or surgery and then therapy-we are talking about the long haul. Being pragmatic and hopeful, I’m okay with a season off, if it means that I can run again, and bike again, and swim again.

But, as I sent my husband and Freckles off to my favorite 5k of the summer that Saturday, I was neither pragmatic nor optimistic. I was rather bummed.

Frankly, I was mourning. Mourning the season that should have been. Mourning the (hopefully temporary) loss of my knee function. Mourning my inability to train with my son and husband. Mourning my glorious early morning, sunshiny, quiet, summer bike rides. Mourning the exhilaration that comes from running races well.

Mourning the loss of hopes and dreams and could have beens for this year.

In the depths of my despair (that is totally an exaggeration…) I got a bit vulnerable on FB. Not in a bid for pity, just being real about how I was feeling.

I wanted people to understand that while I am by nature pragmatic, this was throwing me for a loop.

I was mourning.

What I got was understanding by some, and not understanding by some.

My athletic and runner friends got it. They know how I love to run and train and race, because they love it too. We may not totally love every minute of the process, but we love the life style. And an injury puts a stop to that-even if temporarily. My athletic friends chimed in with me too’s.

But, then there were other, well meaning people who said the darnedest things. I wanted space to mourn. I wanted people to see that maybe I wasn’t handling it as well as it looked. I wanted to hear that sucks. What I got was some suck it up-it’s life's. I ended up taking my status down, because I just didn’t want to deal with comments any more.

Maybe (probably) my wants were self-centered. I won’t deny that. Maybe FB is not the best platform for vulnerability.

The whole debacle made me wonder how I deal with people’s mourning.

I think, as Christians, we tend to try to short circuit the mourning process.

We spiritualize and push for the end product, without allowing the process.

I know I’ve been guilty of that. I’m betting we’ve all experienced that.

Once someone said to me, “you have to remember the goal is ____.” And I remember thinking, “I am not to that point yet. I need space to mourn guilt free for what was and what could have been. What was not my fault.” It was a major, life altering circumstance. Even though the person had the best of intentions, it came off as callous and uncaring. Spiritual, but not realistic and rather hurtful.

The contrast, is when we left our church of 13-1/2 years. It had been a grueling year or two. We needed to escape. It was time to leave. Yet, when we left, I was hit by tremendous and unexpected mourning. A friend took time out of her day and called me on the phone and let me mourn. Literally mourn. Tears and snot and all. Mourning the break in relationships. Mourning the wreckage. Mourning the hurts. Mourning the leaving.

Mourning was crucial in the healing process.

In death, we Christians quote the verse…we sorrow not. Instead of facing up to gaping holes left here on earth by the absence of loved ones, we go all spiritual. We comment on God’s will and faithfulness and goodness, and how well someone is handling the death. But, that verse doesn’t say that we don’t sorrow. It says we don’t sorrow in the same way as those who have no hope.

There is still mourning that needs to happen.

Grief over memories not made. Absences at weddings and birthdays and graduations and baptisms and milestones and daily life. Regrets. Hopes and dreams unrealized.

As I thought on the verse, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted, I thought about how we have spiritualized that one too.

We say “Blessed are they that mourn over their sin, for they shall be comforted.

That is certainly one application of that verse. It is not the only application. It is a very narrow application.

The verse just says…blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. No caveats. No amplification.

Why would those who mourn be comforted? Well, because, duh, they need to be comforted.

But, also, those who mourn are being honest with themselves. And with God. And with others.

(When appropriate. Not that we should be dishonest with others. Just that some mourning is more public and some is more private.)

Those who mourn are admitting a loss, a sorrow, a disappointment, a wrong done. They are admitting that we live in a fallen, imperfect world. Where there is sickness and death and loss and injury and sin and consequences.

Those who don’t mourn don’t need comforted.

Except they do.

As long as we have our junk all together, we aren’t mourning and we aren’t being honest and we aren’t being comforted.

Comfort may or may not come from people. Some people treat vulnerability as a weakness to be exploited, as a weapon to use against us. Vulnerable is not something to be with everyone in our lives. FB is not a good platform for vulnerability. At least, not in my experience. Or, at least not at some levels.

But, there are those people in our lives, maybe a handful, maybe a dozen, maybe a couple dozen, who are a safe place. Who treat our vulnerability with compassion. Who weep with us and pray for us. Those are the ones to bare our soul to.

In the scheme of things, a knee is just a knee. A summer is just a summer. Comparatively, it is just

But, it is my just. My reality this summer. It is what God is using to refine me this summer. It is that mourning in my life that God is comforting.

So I can, in turn, comfort others. 

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Or mourning…