The Life Dichotomy

Plenty of things in this life should give us reason to pause.

Why does the word “lisp” have an “s” in it?

Since Americans throw rice at weddings, do Asians throw cheeseburgers?

And then there’s this picture of an octopus eating a shag:

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Not that bird’s best day.

Other more important things give me reason to pause, especially when the propinquity of their seeming juxtaposition nears a common epicenter.

Like my friend’s mom dying within twenty-four hours of my other friends having their first child.

As a Christian, and further as a pastor, such dramatic life events present an interesting gambit of emotional obstacles. Not because I’m worried about crying at funerals, or hate smelling babies’ heads. (I do both quite well). But because I’m called to identify with loss, and equally identify with gifts.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

When we take on another person’s life-state as if it was our own, we participate in something uniquely divine, an inferior reflection of what Jesus did so perfectly: becoming as someone else.

Life’s dichotomies, as experienced most extremely in birth and death, are not meant to be feared, but should be seen as opportunities to act Christ-like. To take on someone else’s burden so that they might understand they’re not alone. Truer, more authentic empathy is rarely seen, save maybe in exchanging one life for another. And even in that we see the picture quite clearly: giving up part of our life in recognition of someone else’s.

We die a little.

We give ourselves away a little.

If you’re asked to celebrate today, celebrate with all your might. You honor the lives around you with your passion.

If you’re called to grieve today, mourn from the deepest part of your soul. You honor the lives around you with your compassion.

You’re also acting a whole lot like Jesus. It can be draining, yes, especially when these life-dichotomies are so close together. But that’s the beauty of it: he knows how to sustain you because he became like you once too.

To Kevin: We’re so sorry for your loss. We’re with you here and now.

To Karen and Costa: We’re so happy for your new little man!

Mourning and rejoicing,

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