I recently had a conversation with a mother in the faith, Lenya Heitzig, and we were talking about grieving, and I told her how I just sometimes wish there was some way people could know as I walk around the grocery store or around town that I’m grieving and my soul is aching. She mentioned how years back, a person in mourning would wear all black and people around them would know immediately, this person is in pain, and I’m sure they would approach them a little carefully and kindly knowing the trouble they were experiencing.
I wear black a lot. I just like it, but it doesn’t stand out these days. Everyone wears black. It’s not a sign of mourning in our culture, it’s just slimming and sleek and awesome.
A few weeks after Lenya went to Heaven, we were traveling, and had an unfortunate experience with a lady who worked behind the kiosk, who must have been having a really hard day and she was just taking it out on us. Here we were, a family whose five year old daughter had been suddenly snatched from our arms, who were walking around in complete shock, and there was no sign above our heads, “grieving family” or “we’re in pain, can you have a little more grace?” Well, we actually told her our story, and that didn’t even seem to change her roughness toward us (some people are just naturally scrooges I guess).
At church, it’s an entirely different story, which I’m so thankful for. Being deeply and firmly planted in the House makes all the difference in the world. We have experienced God’s love through our church and the church across the world in deeper ways than we ever have before. But still, how many people do we bump into, or sit next to, who are grieving, and we have no idea. The people around us who are hurting immensely, but there’s no way for us to know unless we ask and start a deep conversation.
All this to say, the holidays are hard. Really hard (my husband wrote an incredible blog about this). I’m guessing, for most people, there is deep aching associated with this holiday season, and while they will probably not be wearing black, let’s be careful around people (in general) but specifically this season. Let’s look for ways to reach out to the people around us, because there are hurting people everywhere.
This pain in my soul is deep. It’s a dull ache and I hate it, to be honest. But this morning God was so graciously comforting me with His Word (a passage my husband and I have held on tightly to from the beginning):
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
(My husband preached an amazing message on these verses called “The Naked Eye”– you should absolutely listen. I think I’m going to listen to that one again today.)
All this to say, yes, I wish wearing black meant something more today in our culture. Maybe people would just be nicer to hurting hearts. But the truth is, grieving and mourning and suffering lasts for a moment, and there will come a day when those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be clothed in white (Revelation 3 and 7) and all that comes with wearing black – whether you’re grieving or experiencing a different sort of agony – will be washed away in His presence.
And white will be the new black.