Blessed are those who mourn

“So I have some good news. I don’t feel like killing myself anymore, but…”

I don’t think I wanted the but to slip out. I felt and believed it, but I don’t think I wanted to vocalize it. After all, I was telling friends that I no longer feel suicidal. Who would possibly include a “but”?

For I’m not sure how long I felt like killing myself nearly everyday. Anytime I would cross a bridge I would want to drive my car over the side of it. Or I would think about driving into oncoming traffic. Other forms were more passive like having some disease.

It was so strange. I had depression in high school. Nothing felt worthwhile. But this wasn’t like that. There were so many things I loved. I loved reading the Bible. I loved working with kids. I loved interpersonal relationships. But I wanted to kill myself. I won’t dwell on the point. I’ve read a decent amount about suicidal tendencies and have not found anything that fits what I felt.

“But.” I was kind of sad to feel that way no more. To me, the idea seemed rational. There is simply so much heartache in the world. It’s just super unlikely that anything will seriously change. No one really cares anyway. And what can I do about all of that? I don’t know that there is any real flaw in the thought process. It’s not that I think my vision was distorted. I think I saw clearly.

And that’s why there was the “but.” Because I felt like I was losing something. InĀ Lament for a Son Wolterstorff talks about seeing the world through tear-filled eyes. Maybe by looking at the world that way he is able to see things he couldn’t before. That’s what it was like. I thought I was seeing truly. Now it was gone.

In doing some random reading the other day I came across some quotes from Stanley Hauerwas. I think they were from his commentary on Matthew. In talking about the beatitudes he says that not every Christian is meant to exemplify each one. Some will be mourners, others meek, and so on. For some that might seem more obvious, for how are we supposed to somehow make ourselves into people who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake? But does Jesus really mean that some of his followers will hunger and thirst for righteousness but it’s totally cool if others don’t?

And so with mourning. It’s not something we do well. I mean, when stuff affects us, maybe. But being heartbroken over the brokenness and sinfulness of the world? Nah. Are we like the Psalmist in 119 whose eyes are filled with streams of tears because people do not obey the law? Not a chance. Not really.

But blessed are those who mourn. I thought I finally understood it. Now I think I don’t. It’s not that I miss suicidal ideation. But (there’s that word again), I do feel like something’s missing. So I kind of want to go back. To feel what I felt, even if I don’t want to have the thoughts those feelings drove me to.

Blessed are those whose hearts are ripped out of them, for they will be comforted.

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It’s All Slipping

I am not one to be anxious. I am care free and easygoing. I take plans a little too seriously, but even then it’s more about structure and order than it is about being anxious. Yet about six months ago I felt anxious for the first time.

It was like the world was on my chest. My breath was shallow. It’s like I couldn’t fully inhale. Everything was slipping. So much had happened and so much was happening. All of it was out of my control. And yet I couldn’t recognize that and simply not worry. In fact, the lack of control made it worse.

I don’t think I ever really told anyone in the moment. It didn’t last long, but I don’t think I will forget it. At the same time, it felt like an eternity. I have long thought it would be interested to see how people have interpreted the petition “give us our daily bread” in the Lord’s prayer throughout history. During the great depression was this taken literally because they actually needed their daily bread?

Because we don’t take it literally and actually pray for our daily bread. What does that even mean when there is a whole loaf in the pantry? And so, I told people, we don’t really get the petition.

But I never really understood Jesus’ instruction in the sermon on the mount that his followers are not to worry. Why would they do that anyway? Again, I simply am not someone who worries. So during these days of shallow breaths and unbearable weight, it’s like I finally understood why Jesus spoke about not worrying. I think I understood the passage for the first time.

I find myself again in a place where I think I should worry. I have no idea what the future holds. It probably doesn’t look great, realistically speaking. Even setting aside that we are all probably in huge trouble because of climate change, my own prospects don’t look great. I don’t know if I will find a place in ministry because I simply don’t fit. Not only are there people more qualified than me, I have certain hangups that I think will rule me out instantly. And then what?

I told the family I’m staying with that the plan is to know what’s next in life by the end of this calendar year. That’s when I graduate, after all. But it seems pretty likely to me that there will be no what’s next. I would bet serious money that things do not work out and I find myself in December with no prospects and an unfulfilled promise. Then what?

Still, I don’t worry. I probably should, in some sense of the term. Maybe I will later. Maybe there will come a time where Jesus’ admonitions actually make sense: where I actually worry about clothes and food. I am beyond certain that would suck. But it will probably be good too. I guess we will see.

Romans 6:1-4, Paraphrased

What shall we say? Should we continue under the demonic domain of sin leading to death so that grace may abound? Definitely not! How can we? We were baptized into Messiah Jesus!

ESV: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.