I used to insist that Christians should be happy all the time. They’re the ones living without condemnation from sin, they have joy and peace and fulfillment in Christ, they have everything! Why should they squander a perfectly good day by talking about difficulties and disappointment?
Thankfully, I think I’ve grown up a little bit since then. Or life has knocked me around and showed me some things.
I still don’t have answers for this crazy, surprising life. I just know that when you talk with emotionally-healthy people, you can be having a normal conversation and then only a word will trigger tears you didn’t know were coming. And I’ve learned that tears don’t mean something is terribly amiss. It just reveals the fact that tears are often just under the surface, even for people who deeply love Jesus and know His joy. Maybe this is true especially for those people, because they are the ones who can be better equipped to have emotional integrity and deal with pain and discomfort and grief and don’t need escapes from that.
In others words, I can say that my world shifted when I heard a widow speak with tears running down her cheeks: “You know, life really stinks sometimes. It really, really stinks.” Then over her tears, her eyes lit up and she talked about God’s nearness and love and wisdom in her desperate grief.
So I’m trying to give up insisting that life feels good all the time. Because it’s not going to happen, but it doesn’t mean that life is all bad.
This morning I met a student for coffee. She’d asked if we could meet, and I said my brain isn’t working to have a lesson during vacation, but we could go for coffee, and we did, and it was lovely, and she wants me to come to her house next week to look at her vacation photos and eat food. Last Sat. morning I was in Ireland and met an old friend for coffee too, and I felt so loved and cared for and relaxed and happy. And it was at the end of a week with my whole family, in which we didn’t do much more than take care of little children and make food. And swim and go canoeing.
I’m living a lot of happy dreams. Of course good coffee always makes me happy anywhere, but living in Europe, meeting with women who want to meet just because they like me, having a student-teacher relationship grow to a dear friendship–this is the stuff of my dreams.
Which means that other dreams haven’t come true (because–surprise!–you can’t have everything) and my life stinks in places, and I cried pretty much every day this week. Life is wonderful and terrible, and that’s about all I know about it, and for now, it’s ok.