The Submissional Life // Matt Tebbe

living in submission, leading from below, loving as mission

Jerry Springer, Chinese Buffet, and the Untimely Death of a 24 year old

How do you deal with grief? When your soul has sorrow that words cannot express? I like to cry. And eat. So, after staff meeting a slew of us pastors loosened our belts and went down to the Chinese Buffet. I think I had 2 plates full. Just 6 pastors Kung Paoing the General Tso’s.But conversation was labored because, well, we were sad. This past Sunday morning a 24 year old in our community, Evan Sobecki, died in a tragic one car crash. Died instantly when his car struck a tree and caught on fire. 2 of us played softball with Evan. All of us know the family. So we were sullen, quiet, shoveling in the crispy fried, sticky, chickenesque meal before us. Oh – and Jerry Springer was on the 45 inch flat screen just to our right. Sound blaring. I counted 3 slap fights, 45 expletives, and one sanctimoniously delivered monologue by Jerry. I didn’t even know Jerry Springer was still on TV.

Jerry Springer, chinese buffet, and dealing with death. Random just got a new dictionary entry.

I vacillated between watching Jerry Springer voyeuristically and shaking my head and condemning the spectacle. One moment I couldn’t look away (the slap fights, the audience member flashing everyone) and another moment I condemned the entire enterprise (and myself) to hell.  I simply have no compassion for the guests on the Jerry Springer show. I’m either leering or judging.

That’s the same way I treat my sorrow. It feels wrong, out of place, something I need to fix or get rid of. I don’t think I have the language of lament. Processing pain, finishing sorrow, facing hurt – it’s easier to eat chinese food and watch Jerry Springer – to be satiated and titillated than to befriend grief and submit sorrow. I suck at that. I hate it.

Befriend…such an odd word that came to mind today as I prayed about how to deal with the loss and sadness I feel. How do I make space for something that feels like it wants to eat me up from the inside?

Can loss teach me to love myself and others? Sorrow breath into me space in which I can receive better what the Lord gifts me today? I have a choice – more Jerry Springer and chinese food – or – spacious grief.

Take out and Tivo…or…tenderness and tears.

Come, Lord Jesus. Make sense of this sorrow, parse this grief. Help me to not simply answer and move on, but fully feel and process. I cannot help this. I cannot solve it. I fear facing it. Come, Lord Jesus.


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