Ordinary Endings

Amy Clemens

Read: Matthew 5:1-10

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (v. 4)

A pastor friend told me recently how painful it was to watch parishioners leave the church. “It just wrecks me,” he said, eyes spilling with the ache. It reminds me of parenting. We feel completely responsible in a way we don’t for anyone or anything else; the weight of life is in our hands from the moment babies arrive. And then they grow up, making decisions that rip the fabric of our hearts. Guilt, shame, and sadness can overwhelm; we second-guess, believing we could have kept this from happening if only . . . if only. We try not to take it personally but often fail. I’ve seen pastors and parents wrestle through dark nights of the soul.

Even in the acute pain of these ordinary endings—because parishioners move on, friendships fade, children grow up—there is a truth burning inside the Christian who weeps at loss. Tears witness to our love, to the depth with which we have invested ourselves in others. They witness to the truth that our hearts are not numb, or worse, dead. If we teach ourselves not to feel, thinking we will avoid pain, we aren’t doing ourselves a favor. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” God does not despise our tears; they are the sign of a heart that’s alive. And being fully alive, unfortunately, means feeling pain too. —Amy Clemens

As you pray, consider whether your tears reflect the depth of your love. Ask for the comfort God has promised, because God, above all, understands the pain of separation.