Weeping and Rejoicing with Others
Open Your Bible
Psalm 22:24, John 11:28-44, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 11:28, Romans 12:12-15, Hebrews 10:24-25, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
I stood with the other guests, sandals planted in the grass, finger pressed to the top of a can of Silly String, waiting in anticipation to see what emerged from the tip of the spout. Blue or pink? Blue or pink?
Time and time again for the previous eighteen months, my husband and I had experienced a similar suspense in the privacy of our own home, waiting for the results. One line or two? One line or two? But there were no shouts of joy or photos taken. No blue Silly String raining down on our heads. Just the sound of plastic hitting the bottom of a trash can as another month closed on our dreams.
As our friends learned they would soon welcome a baby boy, I grabbed my husband’s hand and dragged him through their master bedroom, bathroom, and into the closet—not totally weird, since this particular gender reveal also doubled as a housewarming party. The place still smelled like paint. In my friends’ walk-in closet, shoes lined shelves on the left and right, all in perfect rows. Without warning, I began to sob, crumbling into my husband’s shoulder, laughing and crying at the same time as I realized I wanted everything they have.
I’m not sure I know how to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. All too often, I do it all backwards, because this life is really, really hard, and I’m just barely keeping it together. I find I’m detached when others weep, never quite sure what to say or how to make it better. And I’m sad to say I’m jealous when others rejoice, disappointed with my own circumstances.
I’m even worse with my own pain, minimizing it because I don’t want to burden other people. Downplaying my successes because I don’t want to seem vain or selfish. And God’s call to walk alongside others in their deepest sorrow and joy seems almost impossible (Romans 12:12–15). So for better or for worse, I fake it the best I can, hoping that someday my feelings will catch up to my actions.
But I think God wants so much more than for me to ignore my emotions. And He is most definitely not asking me to “fake it ‘til I make it.” He’s calling me to real emotion—to the odd, uncomfortable reality of holding grief and joy at the same time, without minimizing either experience, naming the good, the bad, and the ugly. This means allowing myself to feel the depth of my pain, so that, when the time comes, I will know what it means to grieve with my friends.
Being honest and vulnerable with our emotions isn’t easy. But ultimately, if we are real with Him—and with each other—every grief and every joy can transform into a glimpse of redemption. If I let it happen, every affliction can give me a greater capacity to care for and understand someone else’s pain. Every joy I allow myself to fully experience can give me a greater capacity to dance at someone else’s wedding.
In 2017, we brought home our son through adoption; we are writing a new story from many broken pieces. And yet, our journey with infertility is not over. Our bodies still don’t do what others can. But I’m learning that Christ is the ultimate empathizer. No one weeps with us and rejoices with us like He does. “For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5).