So in class I said that you should learn to expect sadness and be prepared for it. Which sounds awfully depressing. So after class I sent the students an email trying summarize what I was trying to say. Here's the email it sent them:
Dear PSYC 120,
I was thinking about class today and wanted to say a bit more.
If you weren't in class this might not make much sense, but if you were in class you'll recall I said that life is often very, very sad. All of us will shed many tears before it is all said and done.
That's where I left it in class, but I wanted to follow up and say a bit more about all this.
My goal in sharing all this isn't to make you depressed. It's to help you prepare for the future. Now is the time, here at ACU, to construct a theology--a way with God--that prepares you for sadness, prepares you for difficult times. You need to have a theology that expects loss, failure, pain, abandonment, accident, illness and death. Otherwise, you will be knocked off balance when these things occur, and you will wonder why God has abandoned you. But God hasn't abandoned you. God is there, in the midst of it all. But we have to prepare ourselves to seek God in the darkness, to find God in the darkness.
To be sure, life is and will be filled with joy, wonder, and deep, lasting happiness. I pray these things will fill your life to overflowing. But be prepared for sadness and disappointment. Come to know that God is and will be waiting for you in those dark moments. Do not panic when the pain comes. Do not avoid or fear the pathways of grief. Learn to suffer patiently and wisely, knowing that even in midst of pain that you are deeply loved and that you are not alone.
Grace and peace,
--an unpublished post sharing, obviously, a letter I sent my class a few years ago