Isley, my youngest granddaughter, is a drama queen. At two and a half, she has words, body language and attitudes that would suit a teenager in the throes of puberty. Her ability to express herself amazes me. And I’m quite sure I’ve encouraged that with the positive reinforcement of comments and laughter when such behavior is displayed.
One of her more dramatic postures is her sad and disappointed look. When things don’t go her way, she has been known to drop her head to her chest and bend her shoulders forward in a dispirited gesture of childhood despair. She then sits or lays on her sad step, so named by her dad because it’s her place of displaying her disapproval with parental–and grandparental–decisions. It’s a pouty place, and sitting there demands that she at times must cross her arms over her chest. It gets her point across. Clearly.
I can chuckle at this picture all I want, but the truth it I long to have a sad step of my own. Where I don’t have to tell everyone how I’m feeling. Being sad or disappointed can be overwhelming, and yet in our busyness and urgency each day, we don’t always have time or capacity to deal with such strong emotions.
What’s even more difficult is that, since we’re often so driven by our agendas, we miss the sadness of others. The small signals that are sent out to indicate grief or pain that can paralyze but can’t be spoken. Or the reality that we sometimes misunderstand a situation because we’re not really listening to someone else’s story but are reading them from our grid.
My dear friend recently got through the first anniversary of her husband’s death. I spoke to her a few days before, knowing I wanted to call her on the anniversary day to commiserate with her at this difficult time. But she didn’t want me to call on THE day because she is so aware that her husband is genuinely glad being in the presence of Jesus. She was focusing on his joy, not her loss, and I was grateful for her strength in Him, her faithfulness and her foundation in His truth.
On the anniversary, she did get many phone calls, people wanting to do what I had wanted to do. They loved her and felt sorry for her. They were grieving and wanted to believe her grief looked like theirs. It didn’t.
If she’d had a sad step, we all could have stood back and allowed her space to grieve her way. We wouldn’t have been confused by our perceptions, our grid of grief. And we could have ministered to her in a way that would have embraced her heart. We could have ministered to her with the gentleness and humility of Jesus.
Maybe Isley has the right idea.
Or maybe I should pay attention to why she feels the need for a sad step.