Being stuck at home with a blinger of a cold has been the perfect time to ask this question of myself this week as I prepare for Sunday at Parables Worship. We will be looking at the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” This week I’ve been reminded of the powerful wisdom in these words of Jesus that we often just brush past in the reading of them.
First, I noted that “mourn” is a verb which means to FEEL (not just think about) sorrow, regret, disappointment, and anger related to loss. Mourning is a feeling process for the body, not just a mental exercise of noting the memory in the head. As long as we experience loss in our lives, we will need times to periodically give space to get in touch with the feelings of grief that are oh-so-easily numbed with another Netflix program, news blog, slice of cake or scrolling through the ole email inbox.
Distraction is an easy way to forget that one of the blessings from God is to have time to touch periodically the feelings that get stirred when we hear that special song from our first marriage, when we treasure the sweet smell of a newborn and are reminded that we are still childless, when we see the news story about disaster and we remember our own house fire, break in, sexual assault, or time spent in the court system. We can’t sit down and feel the feelings in the moment necessarily, but later that day we can go home and have a good cry in the shower or pull out some memorabilia later in the week and remember who we once were and what happened to us that has forever changed us.
What? you say. Feeling our sadness is a blessing—a beatitude? Something we need to make time for? Yes. For whatever we don’t allow ourselves to feel fully and honestly, God cannot heal—and grief is something that is forever healing, something we are never fully finished with. When we don’t make time and space to feel whatever is in our emotional lives, it’s like putting the healing grace of God in a straightjacket. God is longing to touch the place that hurts the most, and we instead put that grace in handcuffs every time we shut ourselves down with anger, rationalization, defensive tactics—or another trip to Facebook land.
Our culture has seldom taught us how to feel, seldom taught us to honor our feelings as sacred, nor helped us to work with emotion that feels overwhelming to us. If we want to change this for our children and grandchildren, we need to start practicing ourselves. Whether or not your self-destructive habits have finally gotten the better of you, if you are having a hard time understanding what I’m talking about or wondering how to feel more than just superficially about things, picking up a book on emotional intelligence or seeking a reputable therapist might be quite helpful.
Blessed are you who take the time to feel your hurt when it starts to rise now and then, and don’t run away from it. And comforted will you be when you find that after you feel worse for awhile, you actually start to feel lighter and more joyful and more connected to the fragile threads of life we call relationship.