Here we are, just nine days away from Christmas, and I am conducting a funeral tomorrow afternoon. I know, death doesn’t take a holiday. Anything can happen around the most festive days of the year as well as those which seem quite ordinary. There really isn’t a “good” day for a funeral, is there?
But when it happens near a significant holiday, there is a challenging dynamic. It’s already an emotional time of the year, filled with excitement, memories, expectations, travel and celebration. Add to that a few tablespoons of grief, a few ounces of sadness, a pinch of fear, and a large measure of mortality, and you’ve got quite a stew of feelings to deal with.
It’s like too many emotions at once. Why can’t we deal with just one at a time? We could grieve today, then put that aside to consider our mortality, and when that’s over, spend time with family for support and comfort. It never works out that way. You have to handle all the feelings at once, from the tears of missing someone, to the joy of having family together, to the guilt of not having said or done more, to the memories stories that create laughter. You cry, compose yourself, laugh and find some comfort, only to feel the tears well up once again. You think, “I should be able to handle this,” and “I just can’t handle this” simultaneously. You’re a mess.
You know what? God created that mess. He made you. With emotions. And they aren’t a bad thing. When Jesus was born, he came with a whole set of emotions. Since he was the sinless Son of God, emotions can’t be a bad thing. They are just part of the package of being a person. Of being you. Jesus cried, grieved, felt compassion (felt like a punch in the gut), anger, despair, frustration, joy, loneliness, peace, love, amazement, and probably a whole lot more. And we like the fact that he was emotional. We can relate to that.
So it’s OK to be an emotional mess. At a funeral, at Christmas, on your birthday or on Tuesday. It’s just part of being you, someone wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of God, who by the way, is very emotional in the Old Testament as well as in the gospels. He’s jealous of you, laughs at those who challenge him, grieves over sin, gets angry at times, but loves his people to the end. What? God’s an emotional mess? Thank God!