I sat down to write to you today, friends, and all I can think of to tap out on the keys is that I am so sad. There’s just no other way to put it, and it seems there’s no way to shake it. This week, it’s been one thing after another, and maybe it’s because I’m worn down and exhausted after being up with a teething toddler for more nights in a row than not, but with every new hit I just feel more sadness.
The news coming out of Ukraine makes me deeply, immensely, grievously sad.
Seeing racism alive and well makes me sad.
Waking up with a cold makes me sad.
I think a friend of mine is mad at me — sad.
One of my kids got their feelings hurt at school — sad.
Overwhelmed at the state of my messy house, my overflowing laundry pile, my never-ending task list, and when I think about all of it, I’m sad.
The disintegration of my volunteer group at church — sad.
Friends falling prey to misinformation and conspiracy theories — sad.
Scrolling (which becomes doomscrolling, really) in hopes of pictures of kids and pets, but instead seeing images of war and arguments in comment threads — sadness, in and through the posts and my heart.
Watching a beloved family member’s umpteenth hospitalization and knowing there is currently no diagnosis or cure for their ailment breaks my heart with sadness.
Realizing how long it’s been since life felt “normal,” and knowing it could be in a process of becoming a new kind of normal feels sad.
And I wonder, are you feeling it too? A deep sadness, grief, or pain in a situation, or just processing the world right now?
You’re not alone. I’m here, sitting with you.
And you know, it’s not all a downer, even though it is all sadness.
Hear me out.
When I’m stuck in a cycle of sadness, as I am right now, I am able to do a few things to continue slogging through it. (Caveat: my sadness is not clinical, but situational. If sadness, depression, and/or anxiety permeates your life and is a permanent part of you, please seek or continue with professional treatment. God works through medication as He does meditation, and therapy can be an answer to prayer.)
First, I wallow. Yep. I let myself feel the sad waves as they roll and crash over my soul. I cry. Sometimes I holler about it, whatever “it” is. I dig into my chocolate stash. I take long, hot showers and sob. And I listen to sad, old songs. I don’t stay here forever, but it’s okay to feel our feelings. And so I let it linger for a little while.
Next, I share. I talk to my husband. I voice message my sisters and best friends. I write in a journal. (Apparently, I tap it all out on a keyboard here to you! I invite others into the pain I’m sitting in, and I can trust that they will sit with me for a while. These are not people who are new to my heart and life; these are my true-blue, soul-deep partners. They know it’s not their job to fix the sad; it’s their job to sit beside me, to share the load.
Finally, I pay attention to my sadness. I get to the point of processing, and I dive in. What is my sadness telling me about my own heart? What is it telling me about God’s heart? What can I glean from feeling plain old sadness? How can I use my sadness to be a better friend, wife, sister? How can my sadness drive me to action? How can I help?
When I pay attention to the sadness, it’s much harder to ignore it and stay stuck in it. Paying attention, naming the feelings, and processing the pain can propel me to discovery and action. Jesus was a man of sadness-propelled action — sometimes with a little anger thrown in for good measure. Think of when He found sisters Mary and Martha weeping at the death of their brother Lazarus. The siblings were all friends of Jesus, and He wept at Lazarus’s death.
Then He raised Lazarus back to life — commanded him to get up, and Lazarus walked right out of that tomb, still wrapped in the grave cloths. It’s an incredible story of compassion, love, and Jesus’ sadness turned to action.
He wept. And then He got to work.
Friends, we know we can’t raise the dead. But sometimes because of our sadness, we can bring figurative dry bones back to life. We can turn our sadness into phone calls and emails, fighting for those who don’t have a seat at the table. We can turn our sadness into helpful donations of our time and our treasures. We can turn our sadness into delivering a meal or doing a load of laundry for a struggling friend. We can turn our sadness into caring conversations and caring for ourselves.
Our sadness can drive our actions. My church has a motto about doing just this: God’s work. Our hands.
May our sadness carry our hearts and hands into deeper, richer, caring work. May the pain of our sadness deepen our empathy. And with every tear shed in our sadness, may we learn more about the heart of God.Leave a Comment