[This blog is part of the ‘Are Women Crazy’ series. Get all caught up here!]
At this point in our exploration of ‘crazy-land’ I think it’s time to make an important distinction. Extreme responses to extreme circumstances aren’t crazy, they’re proportional. Life is hard and real tragedy comes whether we’re ready or not. When the bad news comes, we’re not playing in the emotional sandbox when we react accordingly.
When I have a meltdown at a funeral I don’t generally stop and coach myself through insecurity. Why? Because it’s a proportional response.
The Proportional Response:
1. Root: Rational responses to hard things are rooted in reality, not insecurity or unbelief. These responses serve as reminders that the world is broken. It is not yet as it will be.
2. Examples: Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. He wasn’t struggling with unbelief. He was about to raise the guy from the dead Himself! His pain wasn’t out of doubt or fear or insecurity.
3. Responding: In tough circumstances we have to remember that we can embrace all of truth and still acknowledge the pain of tragedy. There’s an easy Biblical litmus test to see if we’re doing this: when tragedy comes, do we respond as if we have no hope? Do we respond as if the wisdom of God does not apply? With the promises of God as our reality we are not left to be swallowed up by despair. We can find ourselves experiencing real pain and suffering and yet still maintaining a deep and abiding joy and trust and peace.
The Sandbox Response:
1. Root: The root of the sandbox response or the disproportional response is insecurity, unbelief or fear. These responses serve as reminders that we are broken. We are not yet as we will be.
2. Examples: A while back I wrote about some of the hard parts of singleness. I absolutely believe there are real pains in singleness, but there are also parts that are primarily painful because I’m responding to my sense of reality rather than reality itself. Eg. the pain of rejection. The truth is though, no matter how it feels, I have NOT been rejected by the entire male population of the world. (I’m really going to have to up my game to make that a reality).
3. Responding: It’s tempting to work through this pain of rejection by reminding myself that God loves me even when everyone rejects me. It’s true that God still loves me and it’s true that His love must be sufficient for me. But I think it’s good to first process through what is happening in my heart that leads me to take a set of data points and form a conclusion that is entirely inaccurate. What deep insecurity and paranoid self-obsession is convincing me that people are actively rejecting me when in reality they don’t even know me? The bigger issue here is what is causing me to feel rejected when that’s not the reality? Where do I believe worth lies, and how is singleness threatening that source of security?
Pain is pain; don’t be a suffering snob.
Here’s the thing: whether your pain is based on reality or a deep insecurity – it still hurts. In my high school graduating class we had 5 kids commit suicide. They had disproportionate responses to things like breakups or bad grades. But the thing is, feeling like a failure, feeling hated, feeling rejected and feeling hopeless hurts – whether it’s a reality or not. The sandbox may not be real life, but it still can lead to real despair with real consequences.
It’s tempting to be a suffering snob. I write posts on singleness. I know how foolish it seems to so many of you that anyone would call that pain. I get that. But, I’ve held my best friend during a break up, and I’ve held her when her mom died suddenly of a brain aneurism and through her tears she informed me that even though it was ‘crazy’ and even though the two realities were worlds apart, the pain she experienced was devastatingly similar.
Because sometimes it seems like our feelings missed the memo that we’re not experiencing a text-book tragedy.
Whether our pain is self-inflicted, a result of insecurity, a result of sin or a result of tragedy – God still cares. We’re His kids. He doesn’t see us crying in the corner and roll His eyes. He receives us broken and distorted and gently reminds us that there is only one reality we need to cling to: Him. He rebukes us. He calls us to repentance. He forgives us. He restores us. He strengthens us. He grants us the faith we need to experience the true emotional reality.
He is indeed good.