By nature, I am a melancholic soul. All winter, I’ve been fighting this urge to give in to the common ways I interact with the season. I’ve written about gratitude. I’ve tried to think positive, stay upbeat and weather the dark, dreary days better than in years past. Nobody’s going to see me give in to the defeat of brokenness. Nobody’s going to see me struggle with my age-old struggles. Somebody’s going to notice that I’m a victorious-loving, healing-hungry barrel of joy this go around. Melancholy, be gone. Hello, optimism.
Then, February. Then, the one year anniversary of my sister in law’s sudden passing. Then, illness mounting and immunities low - I find myself in another meditation cycle.
Blessed are they who mourn.
Weep with those who weep.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven
A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.
February finally broke me. It won. I canceled plans. I verbalized my discouragement. I doctored up with Vitamin C, chicken noodle, and warm blankets. I gave in to the idea that you have to sit with your grief. And much of life, this side of glory, is grievous.
Like the wise words penned, ‘In your anger, do not sin.’, there is a certain principle I’m trying to apply to my grief this winter: In your grief, do not sin.
Our pastor is preaching a series on the seven deadly sins (I have them all) and the virtues that correspond (I’m working on them all). And deadly sins are no good—especially in the context of grief — so my winter assignment is as follows.
Pride boasts. Don’t take a pride or boastful spirit in my grief. Don’t wield it as a badge or identity. Humbly, wear the mantle of grief I’ve been given.
Don’t envy those who are naturally joyful and given to a happy disposition. Rejoice with them!
Don’t allow grief (depression/melancholy) to justify other emotions like anger. Take responsibility for the ways ALL my moods and emotions affect others.
Don’t set out to acquire things (greed) in an effort to feel better about the grief I might face because of a loved one’s death, loss of relationships, loss of health or other saddening experiences.
Don’t eat away my feelings and stuff them down with food. Gluttony is a terrible listener and consoler.
Don’t be lazy while I face grief. Do the hard work of actually grieving, thinking of others, and being proactive in my healing. There is a Hebrew Scripture that says, ‘You shall go out with joy!’ It’s an action. I must shout for joy as loudly and as often as I weep and wail.
Don’t give in to the lusts of our culture that lure me away from the main thing - grief and loss are worthy engagements in their proper time. I must be willing to set aside the temporal for the eternal. And sit with my grief. Mourning is a worthy, needful and slow endeavor in our fast-paced culture that just wants more.
The last deadly sin: vainglory. "Ah, look how sad I am!" May it never be! I have watched so many people grieve well, face their hardships and losses with grace and dignity that I pray their lives will rub off on me every February when I’m faced with my darker self.
The great God, Jesus, bore our griefs on the Cross. The ultimate meditation.
“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried”
What does that even mean? How can I trust Him more? What virtue can I learn from Him, the Grief-Bearer? The Sorrow-Carrier? What must I give to Him to carry? To bear? How better can I acquaint myself with grief? How can I esteem Him more, myself less?
The next several posts will be poems written in my deepest seasons of grief. May they speak to you in a way that understands and soothes your soul as you walk through valleys of shadows of death.
February, you broke me.
In the dead of winter, I grieve.
Jesus, come carry this sorrow.