through him, with him, in him

I was recently asked to be a guest contributor for a local Catholic blog. They’re doing a collection of posts on the beatitudes and invited me to write a piece on verse 4 of the beatitudes: mourn.

IMG_0823“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Any attempt to dance around this topic will only feed into our temptation to avoid it all together. Our society tells us to keep it together, wipe our tears, and be strong, but Jesus paints a different picture for us – one that’s raw and messy, and unregrettably real.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, experienced a break up, or had a falling out with a family member or friend, you’ve been given the opportunity to mourn. Yes, I said it that way intentionally. Just because you’ve been given the opportunity to mourn doesn’t necessarily mean you have actually mourned. It’s far easier to bury our sorrow than to face it, am I right?

It takes strength to mourn.

To experience sadness and grief, and to be honest with how you feel takes far more courage than to hide from reality and pretend like everything is okay. Furthermore, mourning feels as if you’re on a roller coaster of never ending twists and turns and loop de loops, and just when you feel like you’re making progress, another loop comes and you feel as if you’re back where you started.

I’ve been there.

Years ago, I experienced a deep sense of mourning that flipped my world upside down. As a woman who is generally put together and poised, I felt as if I had completely lost my marbles. I found myself in a whirlwind of loss. I cried, got angry, felt abandoned, cried some more, and struggled with feeling depressed, hopeless and forgotten.

A wise friend told me that I needed to let myself feel whatever I was feeling on any given day, and to let go of the benchmarks I had made for myself to be done mourning the loss I had experienced.

But I wanted to be done. I got so tired of feeling stuck.

She was right though. Every time I told myself, “by this month I will be better and back to normal,” I set myself up for disappointment and felt like a failure.

My heart didn’t need a timeline. It needed time. It needed mercy. It needed love.

In trying to rush through the mourning process, I refused to let myself accept the mercy and love that Jesus longs to give us when he tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that those who mourn will be comforted.

Jesus is not brushing you off telling you to suck it up and get back out there. He’s inviting you to slow down and accept the grace he offers you in his loving embrace. He wants to sit in the middle of your brokenness and cry with you. Give yourself the time and grace that you need to feel what you need to feel. Only God knows the pace of your healing, so lean on him and let him carry you.

I don’t know your story or what you might be experiencing right now. You may be in a season of joy and celebration, or you might be feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders.

No matter what season you find yourself in, I want to share a reflection of St. Therese of Lisieux that has brought my heart healing over the years,

“If He destroys my little plans, I kiss his adorable hand. It is because He wants to realize His own, which are more beautiful anyway than those which I could have made myself.”[1]

Learning to trust in the Lord’s vision for you is a lifelong endeavor. I am still learning.

With the perspective of time, I can confidently say that it was through the season of mourning in my life that I became more human. Plunging into the suffering heart of Jesus is where I experienced real love unlike ever before. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Dear friend, keep trying and keep trusting.

Jesus is with you always, offering you more love than you probably feel worthy of. He is always faithful, and he will never give up on you. Open your heart to him, let your wounds touch his, and he will comfort you.

“per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso” 

{through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus} [2]

 

[1] Jean d’ Elbée, “I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux,” 89.

[2] Ibid, 81.