Friday, December 11, 2015

Sadness and Joy

We saw Disney's "Inside Out" on our Disney Cruise trip. That movie changed my life.  I have been planning a photo album for Grace since she was diagnosed. It would chronicle her journey and help her understand how strong she was. I had planned to gloss over the hardest moments. I wanted to focus on the victories. I didn't want her to feel sad each time she read it, so it would show the most joyful moments.

After watching "Iniside Out" I realized the  important role sadness brings to the movie.  (spoiler alert) Sadness helps connect people. When they are sad and lonely, it inspires empathy and the deepest love from friends and family. Thankfully the character Joy realizes in time that Riley can't be complete without embracing Sadness. 

After that movie I mentally redesigned Grace's scrapbook. It will have her whole story, even the darkest moments. Then she will truly know how strong she is. She will know how loved she was, even at her lowest moments. Then her joy will be complete knowing that she was not alone in times of sadness. 

I wish all of Christianity saw that movie. We're so into "joy" that we are frightened by "sadness."  We don't understand sadness' value, we don't embrace her. We are ashamed of her. We gloss over her important and beautiful role in the Bible. 

For example, today I read in one of Beth Moore's books, about the suffering of Paul. How did I not know his last letter was 2 Timothy? That it was written not under house arrest like 1 Timothy but in the worst of the Roman prisons? I didn't know Nero was emperor then. I learned that the crazed despot likely burned down a third of Rome (so he could rebuild it in his honor) and then blamed the fires on Christians. He had Christians dipped in tar and burned alive. He threw families to the lions in arenas. He made Christianity illegal and the public enemy. 

And in his jail he held the most famous (and one of the few remaining alive) apostles. Paul had a public trial, as he was a Roman citizen, but non friends came to speak in his defense for fear of persecution.  He was likely systematically shamed by his guards and repeatedly asked Timothy to not feel ashamed of him too. He was over sixty years old. It was likely that he was hungry and weak and cold. And at the end of it...he was killed. I had never realized the intense sadness Paul experienced before his death.  

Today I loved Paul for his suffering. He had it all, lost it all, and meet death face-to-face with Jesus by his side. What else could have inspired him to write, "...the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength...the Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom."

I now have a role model when life is devastatingly hard. I can read Paul's writings and feel safe when life has more sorrow than joy.  I can see that humans can be reduced to ash and Jesus is with them through the it all, giving them strength to endure until he brings each of us home to his heavenly kingdom. Just like he did for Paul. 

I love joy. But sadness has become a deeper and more meaningful treasure for me. 

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