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April 18, 2007

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Alisha

Lu -
As usual, your insight leaves me staggered. You are precious & I thank God for the opportunity to lurk on your blog and read about your life - it helps me to know how to pray for you.
'Lish

Larry

People are afraid of their own emotions so they leech off those of others, following a path approved by their televisions.

Lu

'Lish! Thank you! And thank you for continuing to read, especially such loooong missives like this one. :) I miss you, friend. I pray for ya'll continually.

Larry - Okay. Apparently what I need to do is vomit up all my words into an email to you and let you summarize it all for me, so I don't end up with such loooong posts. :) You said in one sentence EXACTLY what I spent 2,121 words trying to say. Geez.

Larry

This is a topic I've been thinking on much lately. I've spent most of my life denying my nature. As God works to bring me back to who I am (who He says I am) emotions loom more important as the capability to feel is an essential part of life. I'd prefer to just go on denying the whole dense thicket.

Our culture is no better. Emotions are OK if they fit within certain Hallmark-defined pigeonholes. The expression of true emotion tends to really upset people, and me especially.

We're not taught anything about how to handle them in a real way. Followers of Jesus should be leading the way on this: we have the Holy Spirit to help us keep from being deflected or drowned in feeling. Yet our faith has become a largely intellectual process.

Intellect is important. So are emotions. How else can we appreciate God's kindness? I was out mountain biking this morning, just sort of touring around. Clouds were overhead, and light rain had fallen sometime earlier. I started up one trail and my feelings, tuned to more sensitivity by the environment, caught a message: turn around and head for home. "Well, OK Lord." I headed down the hill and got to the beach. The western horizon was gone, hidden by a veil of rain. I got home about five minutes before it cut loose. Now, why would God care about one of his kids geting wet? I have no idea, other than kindness. If God feels that kind of thing for me why can't I feel something for him? Somewhere between intellect and the outpouring of fake TV emotion is the real thing. That's what I want.

There. I can be long-winded too. Think of it this way: your post goes into more detail and background.

Alisha

I miss you too! I missed something somewhere along the way...what are you doing work-wise and school(?)-wise...are you still involved with the church plant? I could probably get these answers and more just by reading back blogs....and will if you'd prefer.
'Lish

KatRose

Lu, you bring up a good point to the question: Does grief have to be public to be real? What about twisting that around a bit by asking: Is public grief real? I'm not talking about the truly huge events: the attacks on 9/11, President Reagan's shooting in the 80's, JFK's death, etc. Those are obviously real because they do touch on all of us (or at least most of us) on some level or another.

I didn't lose anyone personally in the 9/11 attacks, but I too felt attacked because I could no longer trust that planes were going to stay in the sky, that neighbors aren't a benign as they appear from across the street, and that our basic tenets of life (life, liberty and the pursuit of happyness) aren't as altruistic as I previously believed. I still remember the shock and horror I felt, not just watching it happen on TV or talking to friends and family afterward as we tried to figure what it all meant, but also that I hadn't met most of my neighbors until we all stood on the curbs with candles one week after the attacks sharing our grief with each other and anyone driving down the street.

I'm sure similar reactions were had during other major national tragedies. Those are all understandable and, personally I think, justified reasons for public grief, but joining with your neighbors and strangers to grieve over losses that will never be regained.

However, I don't understand the overwhelming reactions we're seeing over other tragic events such as the Virginia Tech shootings. I'm not suggesting we shouldn't feel for the people directly and indirectly involved. But is it justified to have a national moment of silence for the dead when the vast majority of us have never been to VT, met a single student or even were aware of the college until this happened? I feel badly for the families and friends of the dead. I feel awful that the school has to deal with the emotional, mental and financial aftermath of this gunman's handiwork. But is flying flags at half-mast (which was happening all over Vegas and LA this week), something that should be done for a localized event?

And therein lies, I think, some of the answers for why national and public grief is being so rampant. Nothing is truly localized anymore. Instant messaging, cell phones, Blackberries, emails, CNN and the like are tying us all together into one large, dysfuncational family that can't quite decide if we like each other or would prefer to ignore each other. So when tragedy does strike – school shootings, tsunamis, hurricanes, snipers, etc – we all feel a need to band together and assure ourselves that we're not alone. I don't believe most of the public grief is for the losses themselves. I know that sounds callous, but stick with me for a moment. I think much of the public grief is for the fear we have that we might be next, that we're somewhere in line waiting for an awful event to hit our lives and our loved ones. So to ensure that we will have the support we'll need to survive, we offer it up to everyone around us, regardless of whether we know them or not.

Marti Smith

Lu, appreciate your post. As a kind-of international person I had a mixed response to the Virginia Tech thing; at a church retreat this weekend they had us read out the names of the kids who died. Thirty-some senseless deaths... but are they more tragic than others? I felt the same twinge I'd felt at the office, trying to decide if we needed to pray about the Virginia situation, instead, when I had prepared stuff for us to pray about regarding the significant religious persecution going on in Ethiopia and Nigeria; more believers have been martyred in both places recently.

A church has daily updates on the kid with cancer while nobody notices the old woman wasting away in depression. Or worse, bitterness. Not so cuddly.

So: what gets attention, what does not, is not fair, is not even.

But in whatever way, on whatever ocassion, the experience of grief is something we share. If not grief for Christians overseas, grief for Americans we've never met; if not grief for Iraqi women whose families' futures are so precarious in a civil war, then grief for an American who just sent her son to their country. And grief for our own losses, and broken dreams.

The world is no worse than it ever was; nor is it any better. Yet globalization, technology, and other cultural shifts change the way we grieve today.

When I think of grief I think of 2 Cor. 7:10, which is about grief over sin. It says there are two kinds of sorrow. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

I think this has to do with how we respond to the life-giver in our times of grief. Do we call out to God - even in anger - and 'remain in him,' a connection which seems to bring joy in heaven - or do we turn from him, become hard and bitter and try to avoid trusting in or depending on him?

Going through significant personal grief in the dissolving of our ministry recently, and a couple of other things... My emotions are messy. Which makes my relationships messy. And because of the way my life is set up, this whole thing with being a missionary, doing newsletters or whatever, my own awkward grief becomes a public thing. I have mixed feelings about that, too.

Alisha

Hi Lu -
A friend of mine posted this & I thought of you.
http://mindymc5.wordpress.com/

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