It’s okay to be sad. When airport runs are nearly done, and the tree is crisp with dead needles, it’s okay to be sad. When the hallways are silent and the night is still, it’s okay to miss the scurry of little toes and cheerful giggles. When the rush of church services and the hustle of wrapping is done, we can feel like the leftovers in the fridge — dried out. The holidays have come and gone as quickly as the baked goods off our countertops. We topple over into the new year like a toddler learning how to walk.
Our bodies are here, but our hearts are still stuck in the places of our deepest sadness — that place within us where we never fully grieved a friendship that abruptly ended or the pain of a family member who walked away. Our hearts get locked in pockets of sadness, but our bodies keep going. We press on, push through, and trudge forward, even when something inside us feels unsettled. If we aren’t careful, we can move into the new year with our bodies but leave our hearts behind.
So often, the moment sadness starts to push up, we shoo it away, hammer it down, and seal it shut. We are so tempted to resolve our feelings with quick fixes. We ignore our heartaches or bully them away. When tears emerge, we hide them, brush them off, or shame ourselves. But what if, for a moment, we spoke our sadness? What if we invited it to rise and gave it space to breathe? What if our sadness from years ago or just yesterday came to the surface and was met with welcome? What if our hearts are stuck back in high school or a painful divorce or a miscarriage? Can we give ourselves permission to still hurt? Even if we’ve been single forever, can we still talk about our longings without apologizing? Moving into this new year, healing is waiting, knocking at the door of our hearts eager to be let in.
I offer you permission to be sad. You can cry till your eyes hurt and throat burns. You don’t have to have a good reason to break down. You can cry even if you’ve been crying about the same thing for years. You don’t need to explain it with perfect sentences or complete thoughts. You have permission to feel the memories that make it hard to breathe. Even if your pain is from childhood or your college years, give it permission to come up. Give yourself grace to invite sadness — big or small — to the table of your soul.
If someone were to sit beside you today and ask you what you’re sad about, what would you say? You might squirm, murmur a few things, or be silent. But if they waited patiently, what sadness tucked way deep down in your soul would you share?
What if the person sitting beside you was Jesus? Jesus, who wept with Mary and Martha when their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus, who helped a father care for his sick daughter. Jesus, while dying on the cross directed his friend, John, to comfort His mourning mother. Jesus, who leans into our greatest sadness and says, “Come.” He is your Counselor, Friend, and Father.
Let Jesus comfort your soul. Open the gates of your heart, the ones you’ve sealed shut. Crack them open and invite Jesus to stay even when you want to run away. Let His love curve around the rugged corners of your heart and sand out all the rough edges. Allow your sadness to fold into His tender fondness of you. The only way to go forward this new year is to go inward. Enter the most sensitive spots inside of you and find Jesus meeting you there. At the center of your sadness God offers you a soothing balm for your soul. It’s okay to be sad because God, Emmanuel, is with you even there.
At the center of your sadness God offers you a soothing balm for your soul. - Anjuli Paschall: Click To Tweet