About Emotions . . .

13 Apr

Yesterday, I saw a Facebook picture of the wives of the three evangelist Herbster brothers, along with about half a dozen other ladies associated with the Wilds Christian camp.  The caption was that they were headed off for a girlfriends’ weekend and retreat.  Fun, fun!

My heart lurched within me a little.  You see, although I have often gone on ladies’ retreats in various churches or parachurch ministries in which I have been involved, I have never had a group of girlfriends like that one–a group with which I can hold reunions all over the country.  A group of ladies with whom I can assume I will grow old.  A couple of times I thought I was developing bonds in that direction with a group in which I was involved.  The bonds never became quite that permanent.

So I have a friend or two who still remains from every group I have been in.  But no big groups of girlfriends who travel all over the country to do things together.  

I suspect most women don’t have this, although most of us would like to have it . . .

It also doesn’t help that I have spent my career in the military and working with the military.  I have sometimes had more male friends than female friends.  It is neither better nor worse than anyone else’s situation.  It is just the one that is right for nerdy, geeky me.  

Now suppose that I were to sit down and compose a note to the Herbster sisters, asking them to stop holding their retreats because I don’t have a group like that.  Because I can feel twinges of regret that I do not, when I see their posts showing that they do  . . .   

Or what if I just asked them to not publicize such joyous accounts of their girlfriends’ weekends on Facebook because I don’t get to have them?

Would that be fair?  Of course not.  They would be better to just drop me as a Facebook friend if I asked that. Really!

However, our modern age allows for a lot of that sort of thing–getting people to stop talking about their happiness lest someone else be sad.  Let me give two examples, one in which we are unconsciously contradicting God’s created order.  

The first, more harmless one occurred a couple of weeks ago when a friend posted a positive pregnancy test on Facebook as an April Fool’s joke.  The friend already has four children.   

Can you believe he was sent notes from childless/barren couples about how insensitive it was to joke about something like that?  Really?

I understand the heartbreak of not being able to bear a child.  I understand the heartbreak of waiting to adopt and not having it pan out.  We have stood closely alongside two couples who have walked this path, one of which is still on it.  

However, there are two facts here that can’t be contradicted.  1) Some couples/families cannot bear children. That couple is still a family from the time they say “I do” (and we must be careful to get that theology correct–we don’t “start a family” because we already *are* a family).  2) Getting families who have multiple children to “dial down their joy” will not do anything for anyone who is barren.  It will just circulate a lot less joy in this world, for no reason at all.  

My second example is a very serious one because it contradicts God’s created order:  I am a daddy’s girl and have been since I was born.  My dad and I talk and laugh together all life long.  It is one of the major “taken for granted” parts of my existence.  And if my dad gets sick, I pray and worry a lot!

Some friends have implied to me that I should not talk about the joy my dad brings to my life when they are around because they were either raised by a single mother or else they had a father who frightened them or perhaps abused them. 

In other words, they are asking me to dial down my joy in being raised in a normal, complementarian two-parent home, like the Lord set up in Eden, because their own homes were not that way.  

Big red flag there, folks.  Yes, the pain of abuse is major.  The pain of an absent father is major, too.  But is it such a blot on the soul that healing can never, ever occur, even with a Sovereign Lord’s intervention?

And how might He choose to intervene if we have never lived in a normal, complementarian two-parent family? Maybe by letting us become involved in families like that so we can see what normal looks like?  Perhaps by letting us see the joy that is present in such a family so we might replicate it in our own families as adults?

I think we are going very far in the direction of suppressing joy in the normal, everyday parts of life:  girlfriends’ retreats, births of multiple children, healthy interactions with our parents, out of fear that we will offend someone who has a somewhat different existence.  

Brothers and sisters, I think these extreme attempts to suppress the joy of others ought not to be.   

 

 

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