By Rachel Hinz
Six years ago my mom died. That’s not how I usually say it, though. I’ll say something like, “My mom got to see her Savior.” Or, “My mom is with Jesus now.” Those statements are more positive and uplifting. Only recently have I felt like I can hold some heavier things and still be at peace; even with tears.
My dad retired this February. I’m really glad for him and we’ve seen him more since then, which is really special since we live eight hours (or an hour-and-a-half plane ride) away. However, now that Dad is preparing to sell his house and downsize, that means getting rid of so many of his thing. And hers.
I didn’t think I could come to tears seeing a snowman trinket that probably couldn’t be sold at a garage sale for a quarter…
But that was my mom’s snowman. I don’t even remember it from the rest of her many snowmen that she’d bring out at Christmas. But it doesn’t matter. It was hers, and she loved snowmen.
I didn’t cry enough at my mom’s death or at her funeral. I cried; but I’m not sure I cried enough. On one hand, I knew it was OK: she was with Jesus. I would see her again. And on top of that, I found a weird piece of random comfort from Jane Fonda in a movie called “This is Where I Leave You,” where she says something like, “there’s no wrong way to grieve… you can cry or laugh… it’s OK.” The movie is about a Jewish family mourning the loss of their family patriarch in the rite of Shiva (which, I believe, is a custom of sitting in grief for a number of days).
I wish we did that.
Probably sitting in grief together—for a few days—would have been uncomfortable. Terribly awkward. Painful—one way or the other.
It’s not to say I didn’t cry, or cry with my family, but I think I needed more. I didn’t realize it then, but I do now.
I grew up with Christian parents and was taught the faith. I went to a Christian school. I’m beyond thankful for the Word of God planted in my heart. His Words are everything to me.
But I’m really thankful, too, that in the last few years I’ve been exploring my feelings. Feelings like sadness, loneliness, and grief. Feelings like disappointment. Feelings like anger.
I don’t know where, or how, but at some point those feelings didn’t get as much attention as they needed. I can’t help but think that the standard caution for the Christian should be: yes, to trust in Jesus, and also, to not keep emotions at arm’s length.
There’s grace for our neglect of emotions.
I’m thankful for those Christians Jesus has placed in my life who have shown me what it means to lament, to simply cry out to God and be brutally honest about how I feel, to just sit there and hold that emotion… not “spiritually bypassing” with words of comfort TOO SOON.
And that’s NOT to say that I don’t love every true word of Jesus and His Gospel, and the reminders of His promises: the resurrection, and the eternal life we have in Him. Yes, these words, too, mean everything to me.
And still, could it be that the words, “Jesus wept,” also mean everything to me? I don’t want a doctrinal dissertation on these words. I don’t want the context, or the story, or the sermon, or any other words other than those two words.
I only want a Savior—a high priest (Hebrews 4:15)—who has felt every sadness that I’ve felt. Sometimes I only want those two words, “Jesus wept,” and anyone who wants to sit with me in those two words. I know He will meet me there.
My mom would always quote, “Where two or three are gathered in [His] name, [He] is there.” So may I meet in the name of the Jesus, the God who wept.
And I can’t help but reflect how much kinder of a person have I been in learning to lament! How much more empathetic, how much more vulnerable to those around me, who are so quick to join me in tears, and in doing so, join me in my burden and help me carry it (Galatians 6:2).
These people are not above me or apart from me, but like the body of Christ in Romans 12:15, they “mourn with those who mourn.” Some of them haven’t even lost a mother (or for sure don’t get choked up at a snowman trinket).
“Jesus wept.” Hard stop.
May our tears flow freely and water the seeds of faith in our hearts. May our tears move us to love deeper, grow deeper in Him; and grieve awkwardly and painfully and deeper with those who grieve.
I have been learning how to lament lately as well, Rachel. Thank you so much for your transparent words. I identify with your experience in grief. My mother left our earthly family when I was in 10th grade. I was given great strength from God, my Father, but I didn’t cry enough either.
Thank you for sharing, Joan! I still remember the hug you gave me at SPAA after a chat we had about losing moms. You are a great mom.