type='text/javascript'/> A Latte Talk: I will rejoice with you

Monday, October 27, 2008

I will rejoice with you

A few years ago, a group of young married couples that Matt and I were involved with embarked on a discussion that is vivid to me. I've been rehashing it in my mind lately. It was this:

How do we handle rejoicing with those who rejoice when we are grieving the very thing in our lives that they are rejoicing in?


How do we handle sharing our rejoicing, when we know there may be people around us who are grieving that very thing in their lives?

I'll just bare my soul here and tell you that for us, the dangling carrot is a satisfying job for Matt with a steady income (And, like, with a few little wee health benefits, maybe??!!). It's the green grass on the other side of the fence for us. It is, hands down, the area of our lives that can easily become an idol to us ("If we only ________, then everything would be fine!").

For another, it is the desire for a child. How can a woman grieving her infertility rejoice with a sister who is announcing a pregnancy?

Another woman might desperately want to have a marriage that is fulfilling. She wants a mutually trusting and loving relationship where she can feel completely at ease. But instead, there is abuse, anger, and heavy disappointment.

There are countless scenarios where one person is struggling, and her friend is rejoicing.

How do we handle this? I know how we should handle it, Romans 12:15. But it doesn't always feel that simple.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I want to know:

How do you handle it?

Why is it so hard?

What, if anything, should we do differently?


Dawn S. said...

I have found that it is easier for those who have truly wept to truly weep for/with others.

The rejoicing part can be hard, and it is hard because we are selfish, sinful creatures. But we have to try. Our struggles should not stop someone else from having joy, but at the same time, those standing on the really green grass would do well to be sensitive to those on the clay dirt. I think we all need to be kind, give the benefit of the doubt, offer extra grace and pray for one another.

Love you and find it remarkable that you wrote this post BEFORE you talked to you know who and you know who tonight!! God is good...and funny!

Dawn S. said...

praying as usual for a solution for Matthew. Love him like family :)

J said...

Amen Dawn.. What amazing timing God has in all things, including allowing us to experience grief. Though it is more painful, it is sometimes easier to just wallow in sadness. It can be way harder to pick your head up and say, "Lord, I praise you in all things!".. I sometimes shout it out to him (alone in the car).. "Thank you God for my hurt because it reminds me of how much I need you." This practice always feels better spiritually. I can really feel like I've let God down when I am sad and scared. Thus compounding my problems.

So, how do I handle it? Um, not so well until I let God handle it. =)It's so hard because we are mortal. Should you do anything differently? Nope, keep being wonderful, real you.. There is nothing more precious.

Love you and I haven't even met you my sister..

Sara@ Butterville said...

Great post Jenny.
I can rejoice with others fairly well. (I've never been the women who couldn't get pregnant or lost a child though) I chalk it up to it isn't my time or season for something. there are times I wish we had a nicer house or lived on one of THOSE streets where you just know all the mom's bake and stay home and want to be your best friend... I just keep reminding myself. I need contentment where I am. Both phyisically and mentally. If I can be THERE. I'm being faithful to Him.

Anonymous said...

I do believe I know what conversation that you are talking about .. for if it is the one that I am thinking you are referring to .. that too is very vivid to me, being that I/we were one of the main reasons that the discussion came up in class that morning. And, there was more of a story behind that discussion - for which made that discussion especially difficult .. see I attempted to bridge a gap and anticipate a potential area of hurt in my life, but didn't feel like that couple reciprocated.

For me, I will probably spin it from a different angle .. it is just as the verse states .. get to know someone, so that you know how to rejoice with them and to weep with them .. do that before news is shared and if you do know how someone is doing in a particular area of need, talk with them prior to, make them aware of your new news in a way that will not drag them down and is respectful of their desires.

For me, seeing a pregnant women that was just an acquaintance was a struggle, but hearing the news from someone who I have given to and opened up to in a non-respectful manner was just heart wrenching.

I/we have learned to attempt to get to know those around us who might be struggling in a particular area so that we can go to them and quietly share our news to them in a time or fashion that they could receive the most encouragement and support from those around them .. and typically that is not in a public fashion.

Again, for me .. I see it as if I am the one who is on the side of the "green grass," I should be seeking to make peace with the ones who are not.

I am not sure if this all makes sense or not. I could probably go on with my ramblings, but I will spare you! This is definitely an area that is so close to my heart .. especially when it comes to infertility .. I so want to make sure that I do not offend or alienate those around me like I so felt when I was struggling. I also try to translate that into other areas of my life as well ... areas that we have been blessed with, where others have not been ..

Jen D said...

This is definitely an issue that I have experienced. I have felt I have been on several sides of this proverbial fence at one time or another(and with very differing circumstances): I have mourned with others over loss, I have rejoiced with others over rebirth, I have announced my good news and experienced deep hurt when it was recieved with such bitterness, and I have also struggled with wondering why God hasn't given me certain things that He has chosen to give to others.

I, like you, know what God has to say about how our response to others should be regarding rejoicing and mourning, but I also understand that we are all dealing with hard, painful, and agonizing struggles. For me, my head/mind often knows what I should do (I've read God's word and I KNOW what it is telling me to do), but my heart and feelings have to play a little bit of catch up...or maybe it is just that God is still working to mold and shape my heart to make it more like His.

I think sometimes when it is difficult to rejoice along with someone, I just have to make the choice to rejoice in my mind because I know that is what God commands, and pray for Him to change my heart and feelings so that they "catch up" to what I "know." Even if I think it is impossible, I trust that God can work a miracle in my heart, that He can and will change me, and that where I am totally incapable, He is living in and through me and He is more than capable. This is hard, though, really hard...and it takes time...a lot of time.

Thanks for opening this can of worms. :) I hope you share your thoughts too!

Anonymous said...

You know, I haven't often actually had a hard time rejoicing or grieving with people when they are feeling either which way, even if I am in opposite circumstances myself. How can I be mad or sad if they got their dream job or if they are able to stay home with children without having to work? I'm sure that must be a gift from God. That said, I've been angry when people have said such things to me as "Oh, if you want to be home with your children, that IS THE LORD'S WILL and He will surely honor your desires." Um, yeah. He doesn't have the same path for everyone, obviously.

I have definitely struggled with whether to tell people of my own hardships or joys when I know it might cause them to feel awkward. For instance, I have a couple I lived with for two summers who struggled with infertility and then decided to never adopt or anything, and I was nervous about telling them when we were expecting Anja. Or when my friend has a dink of a husband, do I still praise my own husband around her or join her in complaining?

These are hard questions...I'm glad you brought them up, though! Good food for thought and fodder for discussion with my small group.

Living Balanced said...

This is not easily answered. For me, I like to rejoice with those who are going through the same things as me, and grieve with those who are going through the same thing as me or have already been through it. I honestly would not rejoice around someone I know is currently struggling in an area. I would keep it simple, God is so good.

Jennifer said...

Share each others troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord command.

Gal. 6:2

I'm so guilty of trying to take them all on alone.. Understanding my own troubles is sometimes harder than understanding others.

What an honor to carry burdens with my dear friends. Sometimes a particular problem is what brings friends together, but most of the time we are friends first, then have a path taken. Going for the ride together is the best part..

Love you,

Tama Huth said...

you know we just went through this with our bible study group that we lead before we moved. we had one couple struggeling (well I think struggeling is an understatment) with infertility. And we had 2 other couples get pregnant and another had a new baby. It was an interesting walk to walk. Shaun and I prayed A LOT! I had experienced 2 miscarriages and the first one really showed me the feelings of what it was like to fear not being able to have children. So I could empathize with the one struggeling with infertility a little bit. Oddly enough she is a nurse who does home visits for newborns. But for her the struggel was with people who were pregnant. So while we wholeheartedly rejoiced with the ones who got pregnant in this time...we also had deep ompassion for the one who wasn't. IT was a tightrope at times to be sure. But God was gracious and walked all of us through it. She talked openly about he struggels in our group and we prayed. IT was VERY hard for her to see the others get pregnant. I would pull her aside and just be a listening ear often so she could vent. But I also made sure to be ecstatic with the new soon-to-be moms as well. It's a hard one Jenny...especially if the one who is suffering is heading towards bitter. If they are trusting God with their situation they are free to rejoice as well no matter how the news is shared.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I've pondered this issue as well, Jenny. And I've come to the conclusion that I can only be responsible for me. So I try to be sensitive about sharing good news and circumspect about sharing bad. And then I use grace and love and more grace and love in my dealings with others.

e&e said...

I asked Pastor John this very same question when a close friend announced a pregnancy shortly after we miscarried our second child. He said that God isn't glorified by fake emotions, but to say to her, "I am happy for you, but because of the trial in my life right now, I can not express that joy like I normally would. Know that your news does bring me joy, though sorrow still fills my heart." And the biggest thing to pray to God not to allow sin to enter our souls just because of that news (ie anger that it wasn't me, bitterness towards that friend, ill-wishing towards her). And what others said about being sensitive when you share news with others. Just know that their reaction, if not what you expected, may be for a reason you know nothing about.

Isn't God good to give us GRACE?

P.S. GREAT post, by the way.