The Problem with People of Faith
~Tommy and Angie Prince
Well, let's start with reality: It's been five years now since I lost my baby girl. I think I am doing okay; then I catch a glimpse of myself in a picture, and the first thing that jumps out at me is, the sadness in my eyes. It seems there's a Permanence of Sadness in my life. As a Child-Loss Griever, I carry around sadness with me all the time…
Now, for the "make believe": So today's picture is a picture of Saturday Night Live's "the church lady" who seems to represent what our culture understands as the person who is full of judgmental legalism. Well, we received a packet in the mail this week from a local church that included a booklet about grief….
At first, they start out okay,
"Weeping is not to be prevented. Weeping heals. Weeping is to be encouraged. It releases one from pain. Weeping should bear no shame. It is God's provision to help bring healing."
But then they blindside me with the following, which I had a hard time reading and not hearing the grating voice of "the church lady" barking at me…
"If grief continues over an extended period of time, it cripples. Some people seem to stop living. Their investment in the departed one is so strong that they experience severe difficulty trying to surrender to reality. They begin living in morbid grief, cutting themselves off from new possibilities to grow, believing that it would be wrong for them to seek new expressions for living, or new relationships to people and tasks."
Some people think that by "determination" you can overcome grief. Among people of faith, there is a notion that we can "will" things away. No mention of God doing a work IN our sadness. There is an expectation you can be comforted OUT of your sadness like it can be eradicated, almost like it needs to be exorcised, or God is not at work:
"Decisions must be made. We cannot be thrust into intense situations and expect healing if we are not prepared to move along with life.
"At the time of a death, many people retreat, refusing to decide what they are going to do with their lives; refusing to take hold of the situation with determination, in God's power, to solve problems which death can produce…confusion, prolonged grief, even despair.
"It is not uncommon to find people refusing to take hold of their situation, wanting someone else to do it for them. However this does not work without having personal deterioration set in, a further development of helplessness, an increase of burdening others.
"We must decide to carry on, to move back into the mainstream of life…"
So, they say, essentially, that you surely don't want to be a burden to others!
That's funny, I thought my LORD's Word actually says,
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
~Galatians 6:2 NIV
Instead, it seems they are trying to guilt-trip us out of our deep sadness… They are barking out messages of legalism... essentially, get to work, get busy, get back with the program.
I'm sorry, but jaded as I am, all I hear in their words are:
"Get back to church!
"Bring your money!
"And, stop your whining!"
It seems there is more "dismissing" of God than needing Him that they talk about, as if we should be "picking ourselves up by the bootstraps" and being done with our grieving already. Scripture, God's words of love are not used to minister to us in our very deep grief, but they are used to beat us over the head with verses, to the effect of
"God…has delivered victory, offered to you right now…New life. New hope. New Joy."
Well, I don't know about you, but I feel all better. How about you?! "Now, isn't that special"?