Tensions Part 7: Mourning and Dancing

In the life of any family, there are times of intense grief and moments of lively celebrations. Remember, these are seasons, so we can't live in a healthy way being completely absorbed by one or the other. Neither should we treat these seasons with the fickle nature that we see so often these days with individuals who throw a party for something as trivial as finding lost keys or call in from work because of the immense depression weighing on them from their political candidate not winning an election. If finding lost keys requires the celebration - or rather affirmation - of others, than the value of true celebrations like birthdays, engagements, babies, and graduations start to diminish. If we can't go to work because the person for which we voted didn't get elected, how much greater will the grief be when a family member dies? We greatly suffer in our culture when the emotional level of an adult is that of a child. And not knowing when to truly mourn or dance is the direct result of severe emotional immaturity.

I would like to explain today's dichotomy with my experiences from the summer of 2003. It was a confusing summer filled with times I appropriately danced and times I appropriately mourned. My summer started with a great celebration. I graduated high school and I cannot express with words the level of satisfaction I felt that I didn't have to attend classes in the fall. We had a party to recognize my accomplishment. There was food and music, friends and family. I think I even danced because my body was so excited, it could only express how grateful my heart was. The celebrations continued when I moved into my first apartment a couple months later. The independence made me feel free. I was eighteen and not living with my mom. My friends were so jealous - obviously, another cause for celebration, at least for a narcissistic eighteen year old.

It seemed like everything was going well. I was working, paying my bills, and living life uninhibited. Remember though, dancing is only a season. Only days after I moved into my apartment, my older sister died in a car crash. My world was interrupted in a dramatic way. After the funeral, I was forced to go on strike with my workplace via a vote from our union. And after the strike began, my girlfriend and I broke up. I was mourning the loss of my sister and the loss of my work stability at the same time. I pushed my girlfriend away and decided my new apartment would become a fortress of solitude. My future seemed so uncertain, especially because I had not yet made a decision in my life to follow Jesus. There were times I cried, times that I sat at home and numbed my mind with TV and video games, and times that I just stared at the wall and listened to music.

I could've remained in that state of what I now know as depression, but I had to be an adult. I soon got a new job with better hours, better pay, and no union - praise the Lord! I then started going to the church I attended as a kid. I had to process my grief and make a determination that I wasn't going to be crippled by it. After I started going to church again, I soon met my wife which inevitably led me to giving my life to the Lord.

I know that seasons of grief are hard and I know that seasons of celebration are fun, but life goes on regardless of whether we want to cry or party. Work still has demands of our time. Family still demands our time. If you are an adult, that means you are responsible.

The more time progresses, the more we see an increase of adults living as children cuddling their depression like a pillow or flippantly partying like they no longer have anything for which to live. If you are living your life as an endless party, it's time to start thinking of others and grow up. If you are living in an endless state of depression, it is time to cling to the hope found in Jesus and receive the fullness of His comfort.

There are appropriate times to grieve and appropriate times to celebrate, but instead of letting your life be defined by depression or celebration, find a stronger foundation in the goodness of God that is supreme in every season.

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