Why sadness hurts so good

It finally hit.  Watching ET of all things.  I was teaching my Worldview Analysis class to the seniors, examining the Christ myth as used in ET. The last few minutes of the movie show a tearful good-bye between ET and Elliot, the boy who was once so friendless.  The sadness of my own losses as a boy tumbled up suddenly to the surface and my tears began to flow.  I gathered myself and tried to move one.  But the sadness lingered.

During the next period,  it surfaced again in a conversation with a student.  But this time it was different.  It was about the present loss looming over me.  One grief often pulls another one up.  And it did so here.  For I am facing my biggest transition in a long time. After 20 years of teaching high school students full-time, I am careening towards the end point at lightning speed.  My years with high school students have been filled with so much growth, joy, love, beauty.  And it is ending.

I walked out into the school lobby and didn’t want to leave.  But I got into my truck anyway and headed home with an ache growing more pointed with each mile.  Not too long ago, I would have pushed the sadness down with busyness or just bypassed it with some emotional trinket.  But this time I just let the sadness remain and disperse through me.   It was the sadness of coming separation, the sadness of coming change, the sadness of impending loss. And it hurt so good.

In this fallen world, we will eventually lose everything we love.  Everything.  If change doesn’t do it, death finally will.  And so the voices scream at us, “Shut down.  Quit feeling so much.  Don’t love.  Stay distant.  Stay disconnected.  Stay hardened.”  And if we listen to the voices, we build a castle wall around us, curl up inside, and slowly die.

This is why grief is so good.  It is why my sadness hurt so good.  It keeps our hearts open, alive, longing.  Letting my tears flow and wash over my sadness felt clean.  And right.  I stayed alive to the wonder of teaching all those years. And open to the work I am now being called into.  For grief is God’s gift to us, reminding us that the best is yet to come.

This blog is for you seniors, for all in transition, and for all who are grieving.  I hope this helps a bit.  Let me know.

About Coach D

I have been a teacher and a coach for many years. My real name is Bill Delvaux, but my students call me Coach D, hence the user name. This blog is about the journey into the unknown I am walking and the landmarks I am navigating along the way. The destination: becoming who I really am as a man. I invite you to join me by reading along every Monday and Thursday.
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6 Responses to Why sadness hurts so good

  1. debbie epstein says:

    Brilliant! Well said

  2. James Gilman says:

    This puts words to the good sadness that I felt as I said goodbyes family and friends three months ago to work abroad with Cru.

    • Coach D says:

      Yes, James. The sadness of leaving what is known of the unknown. This has God’s fingerprints all over it. I find that in the sadness is where I so meet the presence of the living Jesus. I hope that was your experience.

  3. Laura Pollock says:

    Bill, Thank you for your words of comfort and pain. I too am grieving, loosing several dear friends at work with a transition next year, but am celebrating new horizons of growth, ministry, and service. Thank you, Bill, for the many years of teaching, planning, notebooks, meetings, paperwork, and examples of the gospel in action – for loving teenagers and modeling discipleship. I have learned so much from you! Some days I miss the old study hall, flipping the air conditioner switch every morning in the gym closet, your room with the graffiti on the walls, and shovels, rakes, and time capsule/ammo boxes in the open closet – everything you need for a Biblical worldview education. May God abundantly bless you and your family in the new adventure.

    • Coach D says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words. You have been such a servant to me in so many ways. Despite the sadness, I really do believe the best is yet to come for both of us!!

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