It’s Valentine’s Day this week. What a polarizing holiday. If you have love, it’s one of the greatest times for a couple. If you are without love, it can be one of the most tormenting periods of the year, because Valentine’s Day isn’t just one day, it’s all around you. It’s in every store. It’s in every jewelry advertisement. Even for people in a relationship it can be treacherous with so much expectation to pick out the right gift. Because, after all, Valentine’s Day says a lot about what you think about your significant other (there is a hint of sarcasm in that sentence, and I hope you picked up on it.)
But I’m not here to talk about love. I’m here to talk about loss. Where are all the articles for love lost? Especially in a time when love is in so much abundance around you it can make you want to throw up. Because it’s either annoying or painful. Or both. I’m obviously touching on a very personal topic to a lot of people. I want to speak to the broken hearted. I want to offer some sort of hope, in the midst of searing pain and loss.
People tell you to be strong. People tell you to move on. But people seldom tell you to just feel. What is wrong with feeling, in that moment, whatever it is that you are feeling? Absolutely nothing. Even Jesus mourned. Even Jesus entered in to pain. When Lazarus died, the community that knew him was anguished. When Jesus shows up on the scene, what does scripture say that He does? It doesn’t say Jesus remained firm and held His emotion in. It doesn’t say that He assured people things would be fine in the future (though He knew they would be, as things would change very shortly.) It says two simple and yet unbelievably profound words, “Jesus wept.” Two short words, but they hold greatly significant truths within them.
Jesus wasn’t focused on the future. He knew that what was best, for these people, at this time, was to feel this pain. That it was OK to lament. That acknowledging these emotions was pivotal in the recovery process. Sometimes the very best thing for people who experience loss is just to let every bit of it out. Because it can become very easy to harbor all of it inside, but eventually it will come out; it always comes out. But most likely it will come out at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
It isn’t inherently bad to offer advice about moving on. Moving on will be important, and it will be necessary, but it may not be the right time for it. Because if moving on is all that a person is concerned about, they are not letting go of the emotion they have inside them. It is important, however, to know when to mourn, and when to begin to step into the next stage of recovery.
Losing someone so close to you can be excruciating. All of a sudden, without realizing it, your whole world begins to center around them. It’s the first thing you think about when you wake up, the last thing you think about before you fall asleep, and every thought when you are unable to actually get any rest. But do not forget about everything you already have and all of the promises God already has for your life. While losing someone you love can be tormenting, it can also be a time to look at your life and learn to be grateful for all of the people in your life who were there before and who will be there after this whole mess is sorted out.
And rejoice in that fact. The fact that God is in the business of restoring. That our God is a God of second, and third, and fourth and hundredth chances. That He hasn’t forgotten us. That He delights in the joy of His people. And that He will deliver you out of pain. Your life may never be the same again, but that doesn’t mean it can’t heal and can’t become better.
So mourn if you need to mourn. Lament if it will help you recover. If you know someone who is suffering, enter into their loss with them. Jesus is weeping with you. But may you remember that God isn’t allowing you to suffer mindlessly. May you come to see that God has already given you so much to be thankful for. May you find hope in the fact that He is in the process of restoring you and shaping you into the person He created you to be.
And if nothing else, may Valentine’s Day be a reminder that you are lovely, worthy of love, and worthy to be loved. Because you already are loved by the One who is Love.