Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
I love that verse. Love it. Because it calls us into a deep relationship with those around us. If we are with friends or family who are rejoicing, our hearts should rejoice with them! We are not bystanders who simply observe the joy of our loved ones. We are active participants in their joy! And likewise, we mourn with them. When their hearts break, our hearts break too.
I have a theory about our culture. We only want people to be happy. Which is probably a good thing- wanting others to be happy, but we do so at the cost of ignoring other emotions. We pretend we are happy, when we are not. I see it all the time; sort of a hurry-up-and-get-over-it mentality. Or we compare our hurts to others. If someone has experienced something worse than us, then we really can’t complain, can we?
But the truth is our hurt is not lessened by someone experiencing a greater hurt. To me, Romans 12:15 says it is okay to be sad, and for others to comfort us by being sad with us. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to grieve. We are comforted when someone comes along side us and says, “My heart is breaking with yours.” I heard a woman once talking about the pain of losing a child. She said, “I had to face into my grief.” And that was the moment I realized, I run away from those harder emotions. But they don’t go away, they chase after me. I have to learn to “face into them” and then I can deal with my hurt and truly start to heal. Especially if I open up my heart to the Healer.
I’ve seen the ones I love hurting and realized we each have different coping mechanisms. We process grief and hurt differently. I know a few who need the time and space to talk. They need to be asked, “How are you doing?” They feel comforted when we check in with them. I know others who want time to process their emotions alone and only open up when they are ready. So it is okay to just ask, “What can I do for you?”
I heard a story once about a young man in college whose mother had passed away. At her funeral, a friend asked, “What can I do for you?” The young man said, “Sit in the front row and cry.” So his friend did. Is it just me, or is that a beautiful story? I think that must have been a beautiful friendship. To have a friend who would cry with you over the loss of your mother.
And as we learn to experience our grief, to “face into it,” God can come into our hearts and our relationships. He can do more than we can imagine. He is making all things new*, and can use even the most awful experiences for good. We can trust Him. So I encourage you to let those around feel their emotions, and to feel those emotions along with them. And also, not to let those happy moments slip by uncelebrated. I hope you can reach out to those around you and rejoice with them whenever possible.
Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for the encouragement you send through your word, and especially for the hope we find in your word. Bless us to have wisdom to reach out to those around us and rejoice with them when they are happy, or mourn with them when they are grieved. Bless our efforts, and speak to our hearts as well as the hearts of those we love. We trust that you are truly making all things new. We believe that you will wipe away all our tears, and that someday we will stand before You and there will be great celebrating. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
*He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~Revelations 21:5
**I don’t have appropriate ‘mourning’ pictures. So I went with mountain pictures… because mountain and mourn start with the same sound? No. I really don’t have a good reason.***
***This post was too serious for me, so I had to throw in a lame joke at the end. I apologize.