Grief and the Youth Minister | UMC YoungPeople
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January 2018

Grief and the Youth Minister

By Rebekah Bled

Sometimes it is ok to cry at work. In fact, sometimes it is the only option. When a parent comes in and says, “My spouse is terminally ill and the kids don’t know yet. You need to know though, because we can’t go through this alone.”

Later, when the kids do find out and they walk stiffly in the doors of your office wide-eyed and forgetting to breathe because their world just fell apart.

When there is an accident which you pray will lead to healing, but instead leads to death.

When you get the call, “They did not make it.”

At a funeral when the grieving family dressed in black sits on the front row staring straight ahead, wondering how the world still manages to spin.

These are the times to cry at work. This is what it means to be with.

I am writing this as a form of grief, in my office, tears blurring my vision, stunned by the call I just received. My coworker has soulful music blaring and his head in his hands, reeling from the same call. Oblivious, the interns walk past, prepping first aid kits for an upcoming mission trip. I am typing and wondering: wondering when the funeral is and whether you can miss a funeral for a mission trip, or if it is better to miss a mission trip for a funeral. I’m wondering why he didn’t stand up and walk like so many in the Bible when that is exactly what we prayed for. And I’m wondering, mostly, how to walk with the students who today lost their parent.

Can it be sometimes, that tears are intercession? Can it be that when our throats grow tight and our clammy hands grasp at the folds of our sweaters and jeans, it is a reaction against the violence of death? Can it be that Emmanuel weeps with us, though he knew since the beginning of time that this would happen? Can it be that that is precisely why he weeps?

Sunday is coming, but today is Friday.

Today is Friday and my throat hurts with tears and hope deferred. My hands are cold and my face is hot. Mascara is gone, black smudges left.

But Sunday is coming. Sunday is coming.

This is not the end.

“He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face and remove his people’s disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 25:8

Rebekah Bled has served in missions with YWAM in Central America and Europe, as a Youth Minister in South America, and now as the College and Young Adult Minister at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rebekah is a graduate of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and an Intercultural Studies and Church Planting student at Asbury Theological Seminary. She is married to her soulmate, Philippe. Rebekah likes telling stories, collecting magnets at airports, and empowering the agency of teenagers and young adults.