We had hoped
We had hoped
Permission to grieve
We had hoped… These words have been swirling through my mind and been in the background of many conversations over the last month. They are the words uttered by Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. Cleopas and his companion were walking on the road to Emmaus. They had heard from the women and the disciples that went to the tomb after the women’s declaration that Jesus was not there and an angel said he was alive. In the story Jesus meets them on the road, but like many resurrection appearances they don’t realize it is him at first. He asks them what they are talking about. Their response is both shock and honesty. First they can’t believe that someone hasn’t heard what just happened in Jerusalem to Jesus. They recount the crucifixion and then say “We had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel.” They go on to share what the women have proclaimed. Clearly they don’t know what to think or believe.
I love this story for many reasons, but during the last month it has been swirling in my heart. I have always appreciated how Jesus first just listened to them on the journey as they named what they had experienced and what they had hoped for. Throughout scriptures we hear people lament over and over, crying out to God. I think for many during this time it can be hard to lament. We fall into comparative grief and decide ours isn’t worthy so we invalidate it and try to numb ourselves to it.
I think it can also seem that people of faith somehow “shouldn’t” lament, that they are supposed to be the ones that see the “silver lining” or “joy” each day. The truth is, faith isn’t about feeling happy and presenting that to the world at all times. I believe faith is believing in a God that can handle our joy but who can also handle our lament — that we trust God enough to be able to hear our cries, our anger, and our grief and meet us in that place on our journey. When we don’t do this we can numb ourselves to try not to feel it and create a superficial faith. In the Bible there is the book of Lamentations. Yes, an entire section of the Bible to naming lament. The psalms also are filled with people crying out to God.
Last week in a social media group I am a part of, someone posted, “I have heard too many people apologizing for their disappointments during this time. We need to be able to unapologetically name our disappointments without minimizing the impact they have had on us. Yes, bigger things are happening right now but it is ok to feel for missed experiences. I’ll start…” This post resulted in over 100 comments. For this group that is an extremely high response rate. As I read through the post, I started to weep in a way I haven’t during most of this time. I think it was the freedom and permission to name and feel that I didn’t realize I had numbed myself to, in order to get through all that needs to be taken care of daily with work and family (and, yes, all the crazy e-learning for my kiddos).
Grief is real, it is not just something that is experienced when a loved one dies, but it comes also with the loss of plans, jobs, daily routines, identity, … the list goes on and on. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross studied grief and identified five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These aren’t linear stages but things that a person will move between as they process their grief. David Kessler worked with her and has recently named a sixth stage of grief: meaning making. In listening to him talk about this, however, it was clear that we can just jump to meaning making, that the other stages need to be also engaged. We can begin to find meaningful moments even in the midst of the grief we are experiencing, however we can’t deny the grief. Part of acceptance is naming the loss. Part of our faith is trusting that the God of new life can meet us in the midst of our anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
As a community of faith it is also important to create space and hold each other’s grief together. Therefore, I have created a space for people to unapologetically name their grief, that which they have lost. This is not a space to compare but to realize that the loss we have each experienced is valid. I invite you to name your loss and lament at this link. I also invite us as a community to pray with and for those that are named on the space. There are times in grief when we struggle to even pray and rely on the community of faith to huddle with us and join in our cries of lament. As we journey together we trust that the Risen Christ meets us and journeys with us as we make our way to the new life that is promised.
April 22, 2020
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- To be known
- We had hoped
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future