Throughout the last few months I’ve wrestled with an expectation of myself in that I assume that when I grieve I lose joy. Slowly but surely I am realizing that is an absolute lie. Just as healing can only come from Jesus, the same is true about joy. Joy is considered a fruit of the spirit and its something gained when you are in right relationship with God regardless of the earthly circumstances you are walking in. It is not something that is of our own strength. It can also be present during the most unusual and difficult times. The presence of grief does not mean the absence of joy. In fact, I would even argue that grief opens up a new level of joy that wasn’t realized before because of the gratitude that comes during the grieving process.
Think about the times that you have truly grieved something in your life. It can be a season that you grieved such as ending college or changing careers. It can be a person that has passed away or a relationship that ended. In each of these circumstances, the grief over what has ended or been lost does not negate the joy that existed or exists as a result of that season, person or experience.
I feel that this is often a misconception about faith and relationship with Jesus as well. Just because someone is in relationship with Jesus does not mean that they have all the answers, nor the ability to be carefree. The presence of faith does not mean the absence of doubt. The presence of faith does not mean the absence of human emotion or even sin for that matter. It does, however, mean that there is a direct line of information, spiritual gifts and forgiveness available to you through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that will bring healing and wholeness through Jesus.
I think that often we set ourselves up for failure in thinking that we can only experience one emotion at a time, which is absurd. It also frustrates me that when a person is open and honest about the tough emotions (anger, sadness, grief, jealousy) society assumes that those are the only emotions that person is capable of feeling and sometimes they become ostracized. The fact of the matter is that when someone is open about the tough stuff it simply makes other people uncomfortable and that’s on them not the person trying to be honest in processing their emotions.
Jesus did this so well. He walked this earth and challenged the common way of thinking and he made people uncomfortable for all of the right reasons. There will be times in our own lives that if we are really allowing God’s light to shine through us – others will be uncomfortable. At the end of the day, that is on them – not us. If something you are walking through or experiencing in your life or your faith walk makes another person uncomfortable it means that they have some digging, processing and healing to do on their own time. It does not mean that we need to coddle their discomfort, mask our emotions, and/or play a part of some kind in order to fit in.
We have all been created to experience the full range of emotions differently and to do so in community and in love. As I continue to read the book of Job, I see that Job’s emotions and wrestling with God made his friends uncomfortable but why? It is because they had their own preconceptions and ideologies of what being in relationship or in favor with God meant. Even Job had to wrestle through and question what he defined as God’s favor.
Ever since the loss of my own naiveté of what it feels like to live without suffering, I have come to realize that the depth and breadth of my own personal emotional understanding and relationship with Jesus has vastly been changed. I now have such an appreciation for what it meant for Jesus to walk the earth, deeply engage in relationship, experience loss as well as opposition and continue to treat everyone with grace and love. And while I am not called to sacrifice myself for any of you, I am willing to sacrifice myself for Him in an effort to show just how deeply loved you are. Plus, the simple fact that he himself experienced all of the hard emotions that we walk through here on earth deepens my love and appreciation for him and the effort He put in to saving me.
I’ll end with this. Today when I felt myself beginning to feel sadness and grieve our angel baby I simply allowed the spirit to pray for me and in that moment I was overwhelmed. The Lord spoke to me and said; “you know the tears you’ve shed over your lost child and the joy you have in your other children – imagine the tears I shed over all of my lost children and the joy I have in those that are found?” I wept. I simply wept. If the world only knew how much God loves us! If you only knew how cherished you are – goodness, would your life change. I realize a lot of my Jesus talk and God moment stories and Holy Spirit references make people uncomfortable, but if even just one person can sense, feel and turn to the grace and open arms God has for them, this is all worth it. Today I pray that you know God’s heart for you, I pray that you realize that He knows EXACTLY how you are feeling and He loves you just as you are. Don’t be ashamed to feel – God created you for just that and when you feel that its time to know Jesus – don’t be afraid of that either. He is waiting for you.