If one more person tells me to just praise or just pray or just be grateful or count it all joy …
Not that these things are wrong. Just, you know, that isn’t the sum of it. I can smile and count my blessings and fill page after page in gratitude notebook after gratitude notebook and sometimes, still, I am sad.
And the only thing worse than being sad is feeling guilty for being sad.
Sunday morning I sit in a pew alone. The family is away and so I sit without husband or children there to place an arm around or hold a hymn book with, and a strange melancholy steals over me.
It’s a feeling I have been fighting. I’ve been trying to praise my way out of it. I’ve prayed and served and thought of others and scolded myself. I’ve asked God to make me better. But on Sunday morning, alone in full room, I give in. The tears well and fall as I whisper the words the others are singing and I bow my head to hide.
I have no right to be sad, I think. Not when across the room sits a man who just buried his wife. Who is sitting without her on the day of their fortieth wedding anniversary. Who is surrounded by family who mourn with him in their loss. Not when a friend struggles to care for her sick husband. Not when there is cancer and illness and struggle all around me. It makes me feel rather pathetic, to tell the truth.
But sadness, I think, is sometimes an unexpected visitor. And to make him always unwelcome is perhaps a mistake. To close the door in his face, to ignore him, is to say no to a part of who I am.
In the Bible, Jesus is sometimes sad. So is God. And so are many of the people whose stories are told in those holy pages.
So, for a while, I will just be sad. Without apology, without depression, without anger, without comparing. Without guilt.
I’ll flee, and I’ll rest for a while, just a brief time, in the comfort of my Fathers arms. Where being sad is okay.