Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mourning/Love Letter to My Church

So this morning we had a shiva service at Common Table. A very abbreviated explanation of shiva is that it is a seven day period of mourning the death of a family member that is practiced by Orthodox Jews. There are a lot of rules: the bereaved family doesn’t cook for themselves, they only bathe in cold water, and they cover all of their mirrors with black cloth. Obviously, this wasn't a seven day service, and many other rules of shiva were similarly suspended due to the logistical issues and the obvious fact that we're not actually Orthodox Jews. The main purpose of this service was to speak of our sorrows, to sit with one another in these sorrows, and to remember that we are not alone. We used Psalm 77 as our backdrop, in which the Psalmist grieves openly, wondering if God has abandoned them, but ultimately remembers what God has done in the past and decides that this is a reason for hope.

Given that Vince dumped me this week after 9 1/2 months of dating (and 2 weeks before both Valentine's Day and my 35th birthday, I might add), I don't know if I was the best or worst person to lead out on the service. I started to cry while reading Psalm 77 out loud... although I guess this added authenticity to the reading... and I went through a pack of tissues crying during the time of naming our sorrows. However, I take an odd comfort in the fact that I wasn't the only one there suffering loss, or openly mourning, or even the only one crying.

I know that being so public about loss and mourning really goes against the grain for some folks, particularly in the case of romantic relationships as there are always two sides to every story. But I guess I have to say that I have a testimony of sorts here, even though I'm still very much square in the middle of the emotional aftermath of losing Vince. As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I started this blog in 2008 as a way of documenting my thoughts as I went through a year of not dating. That year of not dating was a direct response to a string of truly painful relationships, ending with a breakup in mid-2007 that left me suicidal for two weeks. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, but I was done with the pain for a while.

This is the first serious relationship I've had since that time. I honestly thought I'd marry this guy. Knowing of my past tendency towards suicidal ideation following a major breakup, I went straight to my church and to anyone else I could think of and asked for prayers. My church... I almost don't have words for how much the support they've shown me has meant. I have never had an experience like this before. My parents, friends and some of my roommates (I'm thinking of Kris in particular) have really tried to fill in the gaps for me in the past, but the feeling of being held up in prayer and in love by a community like this is just without equal in my experience. I was terrified of the free fall into despair, but I fell straight back into a net of prayers, and calls, and emails, and get-togethers, and just basically of love, demonstrated openly.

I'm beat up and I'm sad. But I'm sad *with* people, and I'm not suicidal... nowhere close. At heart, I think I've generally been a loner in the past. I thought being a loner was a good thing. I thought this meant I was strong and could bear anything. But now I know what the difference is between being a loner and being in community in times of trouble. Maybe it sounds dumb and Disney-fied and stereotypical to say this stuff, but I am seriously bowled over by it. The number of times in my life that I have been at the point of despair, crying out to God and crying myself to sleep... this time is just so completely and utterly different. I am being held up by love.

I don't know what the future holds, but in the present I am safe and warm in this love. Thank You, God. Thank You, good folks of Common Table.

1 comment:

jledmiston said...

Love this post. Thank you for helping me with my grieving.