If you’ve sat in church long enough (or ever watched Footloose), you will have heard this verse:
“A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
If you open a Bible up to the chapter, though, you will notice there’s more:
“A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace” (Eccl 3:8).
So what do these verses really mean?
Well, to me it’s about embracing contradiction. Too often we are asked to live by an unwritten black-and-white code of conduct:
- Be happy.
- Play nice, be polite.
- Keep smiling even when you’re hurt.
You’re fine — it’s only pain.
Our anger is tamped down, our wounds minimized. Sadness is taught to be put aside, and each day we are expected to put on a “fresh face for the crowd.”
But what about when we can’t?
Let’s be honest here. All those dark emotions exist, and they’re real. Sometimes we can’t be those delightful Stepford automatons. And no, I don’t think God condemns that. Although the Jesus of Forgiveness and Goodness and Light is real, that’s not the entire story. Our passion and storms make us real — they’re what make us our beautiful, authentic selves. So even for those coaches/Christians/“with-it professionals” out there who are supposed to be guiding others to success, I don’t think our sadness or doubt makes us failures.
God doesn’t expect us to be happy all the time; He doesn’t expect us to always be the acquiescent peacemakers.
Sometimes, we’re a little more volatile. A touch more bellicose.
And you know what? That’s okay. It’s all about picking your moment — picking your “time.” So get angry, be sorrowful; just remember to allow the light to seep in as well. Because each really does contain a grain of truth, and light really does follow the dark; the morning sun always interrupts night’s reign. Much like Cookie Monster’s new PC-diet, it’s all about balance.
Instead of praying to God to take away our “imperfections,” let us instead remember the neglected halves of the verses — a time for war, for mourning, for tearing down.
We aren’t meant to be perfect. We’re meant to be human.
About Brett Beeson
Brett Beeson, officially, is an ensign (officer) in the United States Navy, currently attached to DDG54 Curtis Wilbur out of Yokosuka, Japan. She graduated in 2014 from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Arabic and a minor in Spanish. Unofficially, she is the “evil twin” (one of Jory’s twin daughters), that annoying-friend-who-won’t-stop-calling, perpetual questioner, ice cream enthusiast, scribbler, roarer-of-laughter, and eternal student of God’s amazing mysteries. After extensive travel in Morocco and Oman, she has become passionate about furthering her/our understanding of the Middle East and Islam. To enjoy more of Brett’s writing, please visit Randomness with Brett.