John 11:35 (KJV): Jesus wept.
This is the shortest verse in the Bible, but also one of the most powerful, as it shows us the depth of Jesus’ humanity and compassion, as he mourns the loss of his friend Lazarus, and shares his grief with the man’s sisters Mary and Martha as well as all those gathered at the tomb.
This is a fitting Gospel as we face the last few weeks of Lent, a time of change, of darkness, we we journey with Jesus toward Good Friday!
We often see this at funerals, just like with Lazarus and with the death of Jesus himself: family and friends will come together to support each other in times of grief and loss. We tell stories about the person we lost, and offer each other comfort and a shoulder to cry on. It healthy to mourn, to cry and to let our feelings out…this is how we get through a hard time, by facing it head-on, not denying our pain. When we lose someone close to us, it is natural to reach out to others, and most are anxious to help, to listen and to support. Death is something unavoidable, something we all have to face, and a funeral is one of the places where we can weep openly without worry of judgement, it is a time when our weeping will be met with understanding.
However, as single parents, we can be faced with things we do not want to share openly, and we wind up weeping alone. When faced with issues such as Addiction or Abuse, and the interaction with the Legal & Mental Health Systems that often come along with both, it is normal to feel embarrassed, or to be afraid that others would not understand, or look down on us and our children for our troubles. I understand these feelings because I have been through this myself. It is a natural thing to want to hide the bad news, especially for those of us who were raised by a generation who felt that family troubles should kept private.
However, we have learned that troubles left hidden the darkness only fester and grow worse. In addition, it is difficult to get the help we need if no one knows we need help.
As we struggle to face those things that cause us embarrassment or fear, today’s Gospel gives us hope! With these simple words: “Jesus Wept” we are reminded that Jesus knows what it is like to feel pain, to mourn, to worry and to care for someone who has fallen so far away that we doubt they can be reached. With today’s Gospel, we have hope because Jesus feels the same pain we are faced with, and is not afraid to share it with others.
In the same way also, it is not only ‘okay’ to share our pain and worry with others, but necessary…for that is how we find healing, by reaching out to each other for help. For it is through the compassion and care of others that God’s love reaches out to us!
Parenting, single or partnered, is not easy, nor is it something that we do alone, we need help! We also need forgiveness for our own failings, and for the failings of those we love…and in this forgiveness, we find Grace, for we are often far too hard on ourselves as single parents, as we take on more than our share of responsibility when things go badly! It is through this Grace, shared with others who have walked the same paths, that we are reminded that while we are called to be parents we are not required to be perfect, and neither are our children!
It is this Grace, that is shared with the simple words “Jesus wept” that reminds us that our painful journey does not end in the darkness of Good Friday, but moves forward to the first light of Easter morning, illuminating the empty tomb, giving hope to the world!
Let Us Pray:
Dear God, please give us the courage to weep, and to share our struggles, especially when we want to keep them to ourselves. Help us not to let embarrassment or fear hold us back from getting the help we need. Let us remember that you know our pain, and are weeping with us, and that you speak to us through those who offer their compassion and support. In sharing their experience, strength and hope with us, they are also sharing your Grace and forgiveness…reminding us not to be so hard on ourselves, that just as we love our children, you too love us, as imperfect as we are.