For me, tears usually accompany sadness. But sorrow is something very different. It is a dry place where tears do not exist.
I didn’t cry when my mom told me she needed to leave. I didn’t cry when I saw through my dad’s bravado into a heart haunted by bitterness, anguish, and defeat. I don’t cry when I go to church by myself most Sundays. But while these are not happy moments for me, and I don’t enjoy the dismantled, walking-on-eggshells condition my family is in, I simply see no use in crying about any of it.
And yet I cannot shake the great sense of sorrow that follows me around like an unwelcome guest. It’s like walking out to your car late at night and getting goosebumps on your neck because you feel like someone is following you. (Hey, I lived in Marion for a while. I developed a healthy fear of walking alone at night.) Even when I’m laughing at my brother’s dance moves, an ugly voice seems to remind me to mourn for ______. And it sucks.
Of course, I know I’m just one of many people dealing with an inner turmoil of sorts. Sometimes when I’m sitting in my car at a red light, I’ll glance over at the driver next to me. 9 times out of 10, he or she is alone and staring off into nothingness. When I ordered dessert at Culvers recently, the voice at the other end of the drive-thru speaker seemed to belong to the ghost of someone who hadn’t bothered to feel anything for quite some time. She looked like she was probably 18, and yet there wasn’t a young, free, or hopeful thing about her. The young lady who cut my hair last week was hardly able to make eye contact with me when I tipped her and told her to enjoy some Starbucks after work. She smiled and thanked me, but there was a darkness escaping from the aching soul hiding behind her pleasant expression.
This isn’t the evidence of a zombie apocalypse; this is the way life has been since the fall. A sinful world is bound to also be a painful world. And so, we have sorrows. And it sucks.
At Christ Lutheran Church a few weeks ago, we sang a hymn that came back to mind recently when I started getting overwhelmed with frustration. I flipped through an old hymn book (and I never do that! I’m more of an Adele person, usually.) until I found it–“Come Ye Disconsolate”. One of the last lines in the final verse was particularly encouraging: “Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.” It was like the Comforter was sitting right there on the piano bench nudging me until the first trace of a smile broke out across my face. So that’s where He’s been—right next to me in my place of sorrow.
After I played that hymn on the piano a few times, the shadowy presence of my sorrow seemed to take several steps backward, where it could no longer interfere with the peace of knowing a God who loves me when I’m at my worst. The roots holding me in the sorrowful place began to wither…and I could breathe again.
No matter what’s going on in my life, I want to take root in the comfort that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. I want the assurance that no matter how many times I fail to obey, no matter how much it hurts to see marriage broken, no matter what kind of questions I ask, no matter what my political views are, no matter how much college debt I have, no matter ______–I want to know that I am rooted in His love, supremacy, and healing . Because even sorrow can’t mess with any of that.