I don’t want you to be downcast, but I want you to be well-loved.

Isn’t that basically one of the most pressing dilemmas?

We want relationships, but they hurt. Sure, work can be challenging, school can be rough, but human relationships involve a much deeper level of commitment and understanding. Of course there are phenomenal friendships and romantic relationships, but at the end, it is going to hurt. I am not talking about breaking up or not talking to your friend anymore, I am talking about that point when you lose them. No, I did not recently have a friend die, though one of my co-workers dad’s died last week, which is sad, but I have not been personally affected by the death of a person in a long time. Any relationship takes time and effort, much of which I have not seen from my friends lately, and that hurts, it can be insanely rewarding, but sometimes it just plain hurts. It is absolutely astounding that emotional pain can translate to physical pain, that it can leave someone short of breath, feeling like their chest is being compressed, or that ache that resides deep in their belly, there are so many ways emotional pain can be manifested, and it is crazy. 

Today was the last service at the church I grew up in, I have been going there for 16 years, so as long as I can remember, and today, we finally closed. It has been a long process and we have gone through various pastors, but with a small congregation, in which I am the youngest person, it is hard to find and keep any momentum. I will not go as far as to say what our former pastor said, “the spirit has left this church”, but the energy and commitment was just not enough. When I said it was a small congregation, I mean small, we had around ten people attending each Sunday for quite some time. It was a hard blow to all of us, but I believe it was necessary.

I will be eternally grateful that we had a gentle, compassionate pastor help us through this, because without her, it would have been much more painful. She helped us keep in mind that God is not gone because we will not worship in that building any longer, but that God is within us and we can worship wherever we need or want to. She organized a wonderful service for the last day that our church was open. She talked about letting go and asked the members of the church to pick up a handful of dirt and put it over the pieces of paper we had written our memories of the church down on. She had told a story about a man who would not let go of the handful of dirt he had brought from Earth, so was unable to enter Heaven. When he finally let go after seeing his granddaughter in a joyful reunion, he was able to enter and saw that his family was there. It was different, but it was better. After laying the dirt over the memories in the baptismal font, and an emotional communion, she handed us various artifacts of the church and we proceeded outside, as a symbol of us leaving the church. It was a service beautifully done and I am touched that I got to be a part of it.

This is where being well-loved comes in. Yes, it hurts to rarely see friends, have them ignore you, have a man or woman reject you, but it is worth it. Pain is part of the human experience, but so is love and joy, so yes, it is so so so worth it. Let go of that handful of dirt that is keeping you from something different, it is not a bad thing! I will be letting go of my fear, as that is my dirt, and I will be moving to Washington, D.C. for a year through a volunteer program. 

Before I end, I would like to share my favorite Psalm with you. It is Psalm 42 (go figure). In the words, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him my savior and my God”, I find hope and an odd sense of optimism. I take those words to mean, “why am I feeling low? My life may not be my ideal, but hey, guess what?! I have God on my side and He is looking out for me, why can I not always remember that?” That is just how I feel, but I do find it encouraging to think that in my heart, even when my faith fails me, that God is there.

Always,

-M

P.S. I have to remind myself that I can cry in front of people.

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