You turned my mourning into dancing. Psalm 30:11
If you ask me, a lot of Christians worship the idol of “Positivity.” They’re afraid to grieve and are self-medicating on happiness. Though I advocate no grim view of God or the practice of sour spirituality I just think that in our effort to avoid despondency, we have mislaid the healthy art of lamenting our losses. We pretend they’re not losses after all or that God’s perfect will is always done or that if we just wait long enough we’ll see the good in everything.
Mourning is nonnegotiable. It can’t be avoided in any life fully lived. The healthiest thing to do after losing something – and we all lose things – is to grieve. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge and grieve their losses – the small ones and the large – is drowning in a river of denial, and you can’t dance while drowning.
It took me about two years in the belly of the tunnel to begin “seeing” the therapeutic quality of letting go of my marriage, health, and ministry. The more I released those things to the past the brighter the future became. I saw that as long as I brought tears to God he bottled them up for safekeeping until the day when tears will be no more.
Mourning comes first and dancing comes after. We don’t usually get to begin with dancing. It comes after the mourning is over, at least over for the moment. The typical order is losing, then mourning, and then dancing. And then it starts all over again when we lose the next person, place or thing. This order is important. It’s not against the law to switch them around or anything. It’s more like against nature.
If you see a person dancing, really dancing and not just mechanically stepping on chalk-drawn footprints on the floor as prescribed by the dance instructor (even I can do that), you know that they’re acquainted with loss. The grace and charm of their dance is directly related to their loss and how healthily they’ve grieved it.
It’s not within my purview to shape-shift any of my mourning into dancing. I can’t, in my own wisdom, transform my losses into gains. It’s so far above my pay grade that I don’t even know where the shop is located where those alterations are made. I’m pretty sure “mourning to dancing” is an inside job for my Inside Savior.
I have never been a good dancer, but I’m learning.
“If you want to dance, grieve your losses. Let grief do its thing in you. Let it come when it comes. And when it comes, don’t deny it entrance. When it knocks, open the door to it. Let it cycle through but don’t you get sucked into a bottomless vortex of grief. Come to accept that what is gone is gone and move on. If you want to dance with me, let me lead. The first step is mourning.” Jesus
Excerpted from my book, The Other End of the Dark. You can purchase it here. The profits all go to Freedom House.