Monday, December 5, 2016

The Joy of Crying a River and Then Crossing God's Bridge Over It

I was in a coffee shop yesterday, and saw a sign on the wall that said, 
“Cry a river, build a bridge and get over it.”

It was one of those Linus-plays-Jingle-Bells-the Right-Way-for-Lucy moments!

Yet in reality, what happens for some people when it comes to serious issues is that they attempt the bridge-crossing without crying first.

Or, they cry and stew and fester on the shoreline of life, never overcoming anything.

Or, they skip directly to “get over it,” without even stopping to collect Monopoly money! (and paying the price later when unresolved flies in the ointment begin flying again).

These three extremes are debilitating in that they stunt, delay, impede and generally obliterate emotional and spiritual maturity and joy.

We live in an interesting dichotomy: either we over-nurture—coddle every whimper— or hard-line even real tragedies with a husky “just get over it.”

And certainly, not everything needs soul searching! 

Shallow, surface inconveniences and irritations do not warrant “stopping the presses!” Disagreements and opposing viewpoints do not constitute the need for a cry room. Opinions are a part of someone just as their hair color: each person is entitled to have them. We all have been tired, frustrated and snippy at times. We weren't perfect parents or children, so we need to cut some slack when we see other parents sincerely struggling to quiet their children in grocery stores and on airplanes. 

Facts of life such as these must be “gotten over,” and the sooner the better.

What does require our sincere time and attention is the heavy emotional baggage that we like to think we’ve jettisoned and are no longer lugging around. Ironically, our becoming so easily perturbed at lesser things is usually the residue from these unpacked bags.

So here’s the sad and slightly embarrassing truth: I’ve been crying a river over a few very specific issues for many years. At times they’ve faded into the background, or seemed like they could be successfully ignored. Often I did tell myself to simply “get over it.” But then life circumstances would dredge them up once again.

Bono, of the rock group U2, croons with insight when he sings,

“You’ve got to get yourself together;
 you’ve got stuck in a moment and now you can’t get out of it.”

And getting out of it requires the bridge, and then going across.

The entire process, beginning to end, naturally requires God. He will not abandon us to cry alone, nor force us to navigate over shark-infested waters ourselves.

The main thing that will happen on the bridge is the transition from our perspective of our self and others to God’s perspective. 

This de-programming, if you will, might necessitate spending differing lengths of time on various segments of the bridge. A first bridge crossing might take longer than a second. A second might take longer than the first due to the trauma involved. But we stay the course until we attain God’s peace and can say, in all sincerity, that we truly are “over it.”

This isn’t to say we won’t feel a tinge of residual tension from the old issue. We may always remember the lamenting and the battle to traverse the bridge. 

But we go forth living in the victory, as the apostle Paul himself models in Philippians 3 when he says, 

“...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

This is yet another form of joy.

copyright Barb Harwood

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:2-6

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