Posted by: Brad Stanford | December 4, 2010


I am a very jovial person. I laugh a lot, mostly when others aren’t. Small things make me smile. Seemingly insignificant things make me thankful. I see the best in people when others don’t. In general, that’s how I am.

But I do have a side that involves frustration, anger, and sadness. My lows are just as distant from center as my highs are. If I can be ridiculously happy, I can also be ridiculously sad. I can be as mournful as a I can be joyful.

But I don’t resent it. A full life requires full emotion. I have to receive the bad just as I receive the good. It’s not my favorite arrangement (it’s not Heaven), but that’s what makes this life this life.

In this regard, I have come to appreciate mourning. In its proper place, mourning is what allows us to break through. It is, ultimately, how humans say goodbye. That may sound obvious to you, but I think we don’t recognize it enough.

I am at one of those breakthrough doorways right now. I can see the goodness on the other side. I can almost taste the sweet fruit of doing what’s right. And yet, like an ungrateful child, I want to stay in the toy store just a little longer, play in the mud for a few more minutes, or have one more bowl of ice cream. For some reason to the Now Man, it’s not enough to have enjoyed a given stage. I feel like that if I’m not exhausted of something (aka gorged on it), then I’m going to miss out by not getting more.

We have this built in attachment mechanism. Since we know instinctively that life can turn on us at any moment, we try to stay where its safe, warm, and dry. But this argues with the very nature of our dynamic existence. So how do we make our attachment mechanism release the current scenario so we can get to enjoying the next?

We mourn.

Maybe in little ways like a droopy day. Maybe in big ways like weeping for hours on end. Often, we try to soften the mourning with food, fellowship, and distraction. What we really should be doing is learning how we mourn, so we know how to use it to our advantage, helping us move more quickly from one stage to the next.

I would like to say that eventually we’ll learn not to mourn. That, too, would deny the construct of our existence. Letting go and mourning is part of the deal. And there’s no textbook definition of the time or intensity of it. It is for you and I to explore, to learn, to appreciate.

I am no expert at this. I don’t want to mourn any more than the next guy.

What I do want is the wisdom to know how to embrace mourning at the right time, without getting captured by it.

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