I woke up sad today. Sad and angry and disappointed and confused to be exact. I wish I could pinpoint one source for ALL THE EMOTIONS, but I can’t. There are several external stressors and it would be so easy to say, “oh, it’s this person” or “that circumstance” or “those people”, so I won’t do it. I won’t because I’m conditioned to take in pain, place blame, then recycle pain in angry words or bitter thoughts. Jesus didn’t recycle the pain he experienced, he took it in and upcycled it into grace, love, acceptance, and hope. So, I’m going to reject the temptation to blame and grow embittered—even though I truly, deeply, and wholeheartedly wanna shank someone for how bad I feel right now—if orange is the new black then shank is the new slap.
Another obstacle in giving over to my shanking desires, is I’m an Anabaptist—I don’t believe in redemptive violence. I ‘m convinced that we “wrestle not with flesh and blood” and all those words that sound great when you’re not waking up to a tear-stained pillow and a broken-heart.
So…here’s me choosing to not blame. I’m going to attempt to wrestle with the right things— these feelings and untrue narratives I sometimes believe about myself.
I started a new job today, so I planned to either make an egg in the hole, but given that I woke up with a certain wounded heart, I thought I would reheat the forgiveness casserole and reflect on Jesus’ forgiveness from the cross. But that didn’t happen. I had to rush out to catch my bus—I refused to compound shanking tendencies with showing up late on the first day.
So I ducked into Starbucks in Harvard Square to use a gift card and made one of the best decisions of the day: I bought a butter croissant, I set it down in the spine while I drank my coffee and read Jesus’ teaching in John 16:16-23
“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”
17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”
19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
I totally get where how the disciples feel, they’re confused and a little angry. That’s how I feel right now, confused by Jesus’ leading into this season and angry that he’s not acting the way I expect. The disciples wanted their warrior king to show up and get the job done, shank a Roman (or two), if you will. I want Jesus to show up and chase away this anguish and smooth out all the drama with his trademark, “Peace! Be still!”
But Jesus offers something else, a promise. He promised us that the pain will end and when it does, we will be marked as His own and the joy promised will never be taken from us. We will be marked by joy. Light, fluffy, rich, decadent, buttery joy.
Oh wait, that describes my croissant.
But check this, when I put my croissant in the spine of my Bible, I unknowingly set a reminder of God’ promise right there. See the oil stains of joy! See the marks of my croissant, smudging and highlighting the words? I do. I’m also wondering if marking all my favorite Scriptures with croissant butter is a little odd. I know, it is. Tempting, but it is.
So, I’m still tender and a little unsure about a few things, but I do know this. I want to be marked by Joy. Everlasting, indelible, persevering joy. I want it to mark my soul and remind of the good times in my past and the good works ahead of me.
That was a tasty breakfast and a nourishing truth when my hungry soul, cried, “I do know what you are saying to me, Lord”.
Where are you feeling sorrowful? Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. Write out your favorite memory, a line from a funny movie, a hilarious joke. Write it out and keep it close to you. And find space to laugh and revel in the joy and remind yourself that you will feel joy again. Sorrow will not last forever.
Not so shank-happy anymore,