Grave Clothes

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.   Psalm 30:11

I love this picture, being clothed in joy. Wrapped in it, swaddled in it, swimming in it. Joy. Reaching for it in the morning, pulling it out of my closet, choosing to wear it, over anything else. Carrying it with me into the world, confident in the strength of its protection.

Joy has been my promise my entire life. Spoken over me from birth, spoken over me every time God gets the chance. I heard it all the time — from Him, from them, from people. When the Holy Spirit became a part of me, I could not help it but rouse joy. A fruit of the Spirit, proof of His presence. Joy is mine, I knew.

But I never seemed to be able to hold onto it. When I asked for it, I would feel the joy of the Lord for a few moments, but eventually I felt covered in disappointment again. I felt clothed in something heavy, bound up in something inescapable. It felt like disappointment was always going to be something in my life. Memories of disappointed hopes seem to always be lingering in my mind. Remember when this person rejected you? Remember when God didn’t answer this prayer the way you wanted? Remember when you were so disappointed? Remember?

I liked to think about disappointment. Talk about disappointment. As I dwelled on these things, I pulled the garment of disappointment tighter around me. I liked to snuggle up in disappointment, breathing in its scent. Carrying it with me, confident in the strength of its protection. Disappointment embraced, joy forgotten.

As the days wore on, I donned myself in disappointment without realizing it. It became a part of me. I felt comfortable with disappointment, as if it was something I knew to expect. To me, it sort of felt something like a security blanket. Swaddled tightly in misery, I thought that I could avoid pain by preparing for it. It made me feel kind of…safe. But something in me burned for that joy which has been promised me. That joy was supposed to be mine. I believed that God follows through on his promises. I believed that God allotted me joy. So where was it?

Jesus had breathed life into me — I was sure. And yet, I continued to wear signs that there was no life. And then I heard the command.

After Jesus brings Lazarus back to life, he commands one more thing: that he remove his grave clothes. He calls him out of the tomb, setting him free from death. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Jesus tells them to remove his grave clothes, so that not even the stench of death is anywhere near the one who Jesus has called to life. Grave clothes are not suitable for a man who is alive. Jesus commands they come off. He doesn’t suggest it. He commands it.

My eyes have been opened and I have become aware that I have been wearing clothing which no longer suit who I am. I do not know exactly when I picked them up. I certainly did not realize I was wearing something so unsuitable. Through prayer and seeking, God revealed to me that those are grave clothes. For much of my life I have donned clothes of disappointment. Clothes of rejection. Clothes of fear. These clothes, suitable only for a tomb, are not fitting for a woman who is alive.

A wardrobe full of joy is my inheritance and those are the clothes I choose to wear each day. For me, it takes intention to drop grave clothes and put on clothes of joy. But still, he reminds me. He reminds me and he commands me. And for joy, I say yes. For life, I say yes.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.   Psalm 30:11


Emily McDonald

Emily McDonald

Emily McDonald is a student of sociology and English at Texas State University where she dreams of writing books about people who have lived uncommon lives. She is passionate about human connection and loves to read books about finding the magical within the ordinary. Emily lives in San Marcos, Texas with her incredibly brilliant and sometimes funny husband, Peet.