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Flavors of Sad
by Bethany Mendenhall
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There are lots of kinds of sad.

There is the kind of sad that the 11 year old girl in Juvenile Detention cries about. She wants to go home but she can't for a while because "in self-defense" she "stabbed another girl in the face." Her tears fall on my hand and I cannot wash them off. She is only eleven. She wants to go home and she is sad.

There is the kind of sad in the woman eyeing a dress inside the designer store. It looks like a cute thrift store from the outside so I walk in. I've never seen a $325 sundress in a thrift store. She is middle aged but dresses like she is 19 and grabs with her bejeweled fingers any piece of clothing that looks like it might momentarily relieve some of that kind of sad. I want to tell her that it won't. But I don't tell her. I keep it to myself and she is sad and that sleeve might be used to dry some tears but a box of tissues is much cheaper.

There is the kind of sad in the eyes of the four-year-old whose nanny brings her to gymnastics. She can't quite seem to listen and gets very upset when she is scolded. She likes to have fun almost as much as she likes attention. She is often laughing. She is often sad.

There is the kind of sad contained in the Olympic hopeful who makes one small mistake robbing him of gold. He might know that gold does not heal sad. He might not.

There is the kind of sad in the ten year old girl who likes to visit our apartment. She stays an hour and I walk her back home. Her mother is not there. No note or explanation. Just gone. This sad is perhaps in me more than her as we walk back to my apartment wondering how I would have handled that if my mother had ever done that to me. She calls her mom's cell phone from mine. She is told to tell me that her mother had to leave for a few minutes on business and she'll be back in 15 minutes and is it okay if she stays here. Of course it is but I feel the sad. Two hours later mother calls daughter from the parking lot to come out to the car and we smile at each other as she leaves but I know there is a kind of sad.

There is the kind of sad in the girl who hates herself too much.

There is the kind of sad in the boy who loves himself too much.

There is the kind of sad in the man who picked the adulterer off of the ground and wondered where her accusers went. He knows that they are just as guilty as her and he is sad for her sin and sad for their sin but with hope He says "go and sin no more." As she leaves there was only sad for the past and only hope for the future and unbelievable grace for both. And suddenly the sad doesn't seem so sad.

There is the kind of sad in the same man who asked His closest companions how long He would have to be with them before they truly believed Him. The kind of sad that said "weep with those who weep." The kind of sad that asked His Father why He had left Him alone. So alone and sad. The kind of sad that was so deeply and distressingly and seemingly disastrously sad that it uprooted all the other kinds of sad. And now the sad we have isn't so sad because we know that without roots it may look alive and feel alive and taste alive for sometime but it is dead. The sad is dead.

And while we are here we will weep. For ourselves. For others. We will attempt to dry the tears with gold or with overpriced cloth or with attention or with harmful actions. We will weep with those who weep. We will hold their tears on our hands and in our eyes and we will weep. But one day the sad won't be sad anymore. One day the grace that we've faithlessly overlooked for too long and forgotten to expect (though it has been and is as faithful as the setting of the sun) will take us home to a Father who will never leave again. A home where there is no weeping. And no more sad. No kinds of sad. No sad.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jacque Sauter 11 Jan 2007
When I see "a sad", and I do every Sunday afternoon at the small, locked mental hospital, when one of the residents peeks into the visiting room - but is told there is no visitor for them, my heart gets extremely sad. NAMI, (National Alliance of Mental Health) invites churches to find out how they can lighten the hearts of sad and lonely people, by visiting the ones that have no visitors. It may be awkward at first, but soon your heart fills with love, and sad can smile a little.
Don Beers 09 Jan 2007
Soon as I catch my breath and dry my tears I'll tell you what this article means to me. It's often that I will point out to a writer that they have overused a word; yours is, in my opinion, the exception. I noticed how often you used "sad" instead of some synonym and I'm glad that you did. It dug deep and I found that I had no choice but to feel sad. Your article did not take me there; it made me slip and fall there on my own tears.
Pam Carlson-Hetland 09 Jan 2007
Thanks. After coming through a season of sadness with many others, this is a wonderful reminder that what we deal with here is not all there is, that we as Christians have great hope. And thanks too for the reminder to look for that grace that is available. So often we forget. Good job. Good writing. Thought provoking material with a hopeful ending.


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