On my good days I will try and find out the biggest lesson I’ve learned about life that day. Here is todays:
“Sometimes you just need to be sad.”
We think that sadness is this terrible thing. But it’s really very useful, and God made it for a reason. It helps us acknowledge something has caused us pain and that we are in fact separated from God. The misunderstanding about sadness is that if we can be okay with taking time to be sad about something, we will be sad about it for less time.
Last night I had a disappointing event happen in my life. A question I’ve been wanting to know the answer to for 3 months didn’t give me the answer I wanted to hear. So naturally, I went out and bought a pack of cigarettes after it happened. I quit last week and have been doing really well, but this disappointment made a breakdown feel justified… It was because I didn’t want to be sad. I was angry because I knew all the emotions I was going to have to sort through, and sometimes my emotions exhaust me… and I give into them when I shouldn’t and I buy a pack of cigarettes when I know I want to quit… and BAM! I’ve done something to distance myself from God.
Then Hannah (my oldest sister) texted me to see how the answer to my question turned out. This really made me suckle on my sulky-little-cigarette. Now I was going to have to tell my friends and family about the disappointment, and I was going to need some of them to help me through it, and naturally I (we) don’t like to have to rely on other people.
That’s when God cracked a love-egg over my head. He told me he knew that I would like to think of myself as a person who would to do that same thing for Hannah: offer her my time and energy to help her through what hurt her. He told me he knew I want to become someone who would do that same thing for all the people I love, know or encounter. He told me I wasn’t that man yet, but that he was confident I could get there. He told me that he put beautiful people in my life that would return this favor, and that me thinking no one wanted to help me with my problem was just a big miscommunication.Then he we like, “And for crying out loud Char, you’re a freaking COMMUNICATION major!” With a big smile on his face. God is ironic and funny like that. How do I know it was God talking and not me? Because I felt this overwhelming burst of truth in this logic. I think people need to understand that we not only need to have faith in God, we need to have a logical faith in him. It’s cool how he makes these two completely opposite ideas work with each other in order for us to get closer to him.
So I let myself be sad. I texted Hannah back and learned that I was not mad at the individual person who gave me the answer I didn’t want to hear. Then I went back to my friend Mitch’s house where I was staying in Spokane for the night after dropping Hannah off at the airport. Mitch was asleep, but my friend Alex was there and asked about my date and If I wanted to shoot a couple games of pool with him and have a beer. The funny thing was is that after opening myself up to Hannah, it was really easy to open myself up to Alex. And what better way to talk about something disappointing than over a game of pool and a beer with a friend who I consider to be someone who generally cheers me up.
Then a weird thing happened. I was having fun. I forgot that I was sad and we talked about sports and love and our future as friends. These are all things that make me happy. We were both guests in Mitch’s house so we shared the guest room, and feel asleep whispering to each other like giddy schoolboys. Yes me and Alex are what a lot of morons would call “very gay together.” I call it friendship and it being nice to sometimes have another friend in bed with God and me.
When I woke up this morning Alex was gone, actually everyone in the house was gone and I was sad again. Then Mitch took the time and effort to call me from work and let me know that I could feel free to rummage around the kitchen and find some breakfast before I took off back to Pullman. Mitch may not be a guy who will hug me a lot, but he’s very good at doing little practical hospitable things like that to make you feel like he cares about you. How practical guys like Mitch show love to people is often misunderstood.
After that call I remembered that I needed to be okay with being sad again, and then got out of bed and went about my day, knowing and being alright with the fact that it was going to be a sad, sad day. I grabbed a banana and played with Mitch’s awesome young golden lab Cooper for a half hour before I left. God has a way of using dogs like that in my life.
Then I got a call back from Brendon on the ride home, who I called the night before because he’s one of my best people to talk to when I’m sad. We talked for 15 minutes and I realized that not only was I not mad at the person who gave me the sad-answer, I wasn’t mad at God either because all he was trying to do was help out of my sadness.
Then I called Travis and found out that he had been having a sad time too. We were sad together for awhile and I gotta tell you we laughed a lot in our 15 minute conversation. After that I realized that I need to keep being with other people in my sadness.
So I called my good friend Ben and hung out with him for four hours. Many times this year when we hang out in the afternoons we’ve kept it to two hours, but I realized sometimes God wants us to spend a more significant chunk of our day together. We were good at these long hangouts last year, but this year not so much. Relationships lose their freshness sometimes and you’ve got to make an effort to put them in the laundry.
While I was at Ben’s my oldest brother Jeremy called me back after I texted him telling him I was sad… and then God was like, I told you the people you loved would help you if you asked, with a big smile on his face. Jer and I talked for a half hour and I realized that I wasn’t mad at the person or God, I was upset that sometimes life doesn’t always have the right timing, and sometimes no matter how logical something sounds to you, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to the other person.
And then, BOOM! I wasn’t sad about it anymore. Then I looked around at where I was in the world, where I was in life. And I realized as I puffed my delightful-little cigarette on Ben’s deck (I’m going to quit again, but when you pay $8 a pack to kill yourself, you smoke every last one), with the sun shining and the friendly clouds puffing as I was, that it was a beautiful day and spring was certainly in the air. I realized I had great friends and family, and I thought about how self-centered I’d been in my conversation with Jeremy so far and how maybe I should take the time to ask him what was going on in his life. He said the biggest news was he got screwed over picking up a split-spare in the 8th frame of bowling, and that really messed with his head and potential incredible score for the next two frames. He put it in the exact right spot and somehow he didn’t pick it up. I told him that’s how I felt about my disappointment, and there you have it my friends: Acceptance. The last stage of grief. Then I told Jeremy he should get some real problems and stop living such a sweet life.
Now I’m going to hang out with my friend Max and watch some March Madness. It’s lot more fun hanging out with Max when I’m not sad. Glad I took some time to be sad and got that out of the way. And God was like, “I’ve been trying to tell you this for 21 years!!” with a big smile on his face.