I thought grief was something I’d have a reprieve from after mama died about four years ago. I knew it would come back in new and even more twisted ways as life went onward, but I thought what I thought anyway.
I knew the grief of losing mama was not something to be dealt with and that it would then be over for once and for all. God made me fully aware of this fact when I experienced it with my father’s death decades ago.
So WHAT IS IT that I did NOT know that has thrown me for such a loop over the last year or two? A lot, friends. A whole lot. I was mistaken in thinking I had experienced “my share” of grief.
Grief shows up in so many ways that we don’t expect – new ways we aren’t familiar with and in times we may not expect it to darken our doorstep at all. When that happens, what we thought we understood or knew about grief goes right out the window and splats into a million pieces down below.
Since mama died, more deaths have occurred, more friends and family have gone through trials and sorrows that I can count, more heart-wrenching changes that, even in the midst of them, we knew God would work together for our good, have happened too. (Plus, have you noticed? The world is a mess!!!)
But presently – this now that I am in – grief wants to take me,friends. The shards down below the window it splatted and catapulted out of have morphed and grown into something bigger, scarier, and more seemingly powerful than I had thought I’d experience at this time in my life.
Grief wants to own me, put its name upon me and seal it that way forever. Grief wants to make grace become second fiddle without question. Grief wants to define me, torment me, smash me and then overtake me.
Grief wants to eat me alive.
Guess what else I am learning that I hadn’t recognized about this greedy grief before? It’s that it has many friends. It’s many little minion-like friends do a tortuous form of damage all on their own. They serve multiple purposes, not the least of which, is to compound the master that they serve – this is how grief breeds and grows.
- Negative mind chatter (why can’t you just look at the bright side?)
- Self Pity.
- Relational Strife and Conflict.
The list goes on and on, but I can’t write it all out because I’m already crying at this point. (Sorry, but I am).
Here’s the thing friends: I know what I know what I know. I just don’t feel it sometimes. That hurts and it hurts a lot (hence, more grief).
- I know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
- I know that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
- I know we have been crucified in Christ and it is no longer “I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”
Yes, this list goes on and on too – and it comforts me so greatly that it does. It’s found in His Word – His truth – His promises to us. And for that, I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am.
But I don’t always feel good about it. Sad to say, but true. I am a mere little human whose flesh tries to take her eye off of God’s promises.
So today my heart grieves, even though my head knows the truth of His grace. Today, I struggle to find how to let the grace that He promises me weigh more than the feelings I am experiencing and meet me in the midst of it. Writing these things down today after a time of prayer is my way of reveling in His grace in the midst of the grief. God put it in my heart that maybe some of you feel this way too today.
Yes, until now, I was minimizing grace today and allowing grief to be magnified instead. And I HATE that.
How do you allow yourself to embrace the “bad” feelings that you may have and not beat yourself up about it?
Did you hear what I said? Not “live by” or “focus solely upon” but acknowledge and embrace and move through them!
How do you allow yourself to rest in His grace, but not pretend that grief isn’t present as well? (Instead of sucking it up, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, thinking of others instead and pretending your are just fine?)
How do you reach a point where you press into God and His strength and His comfort, (while in the midst of suffering), but not feel badly that you are sad in the first place?
Here’s what I do all the time on days like this – this is a snippet of my crappy mind chatter that I have to cry out to God about – ask Him to remove – obliterate – conquer.
- “You can’t possibly be focusing upon the negative of this fibromyalgia again, can you? There are people out there way worse off than you. You need to focus upon all that you DO have.”
- “You are dragging other people down with the vibes you give off on these (more often than not) heavy pain days. Even when you don’t talk about it, they sense it. You need to have a different mindset and think more of others around you.”
- “You know that people think you are making this up, right? You realize that people are starting to see you as someone who either is pretending they have this illness to get attention or get out of doing for others.”
I know this is negative, friends. But I have something positive to share with you about all of it. You can’t see the positive in full and give it the credit it deserves if you don’t journey through the ugly first. At least, that’s what I’ve found. You can pretend, but it doesn’t really work that way.
Did you hear what I just said? THAT is the positive in this. Not just this blog post, but this journey we are on if we are experiencing chronic illness, suffering, sorrow or trial of any kind. It’s part of how the Lord reveals Himself and His power in ways to us we never “knew” before.
By allowing the season of sorrow to be magnified – overtaking us almost (seemingly), if we are searching for Him and His grace, we “feel” what we “know” about Him in a way we never could before.
This I know. This I cling to.
In the midst of my new and unexpected season of grief.
What’s my grief about today? I miss who I once was – vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, healthy, optimistic, driven, rested. Happy. This is what I thought was the essence of me. I am learning that means just what it means…
It. Was. Still. ME.
What’s His grace about today? In the sorrow and the suffering, a part of “self” is being crucified and WILL be filled with HIM in ways it never could be before!
You gotta empty the WHOLE vessel before you can fill it with ALL good stuff.
That means…. dump time. All that seems to be “good” has to be dumped out along with the “bad”.
We cling, friends. I admit to you today, I am clinging to the parts of Annie I wanted to keep. The beautiful parts I didn’t want dumped out with the ugly. But I know that these are the parts, that if I did keep them, would have been residing in the crevices of the potter’s jar and taking up space that He wants to fill with Himself.
I wanted to keep them.
But I know something awesome – (because He tells me it’s so). Those good parts of Annie I am clinging to and grieving over today? They are CRUD compared to what He is going to replace them with.
So yes, there’s a time to grieve. But there’s a time also to know in the midst of the grief that His grace is already here, and that He is doing something magnificent right now, and that He understands that it hurts a bit. Maybe even more than a bit.
No matter what the season, the one thing that never has to change, is that HE IS ALWAYS HERE.
I am being reborn in Him every single day. How about you? Some days it’s harder than others. Do you feel that too in your own life?
Do you know that birth is a wonderful event, yet a traumatic one as well? We like to focus upon all the feel-good stuff when it comes to a new birth, but we so often forget about what happened in the journey and the adjustment periods. All you have to do is really think about it for a moment – a newborn baby – the birth process – the sleepless nights – the terrible twos – it’s not something that is always a pretty picture.
But one thing’s for sure: No matter how fussy a baby is, or how fitful a toddler might be, it always seems to help when they surrender fully and allow their parent to soothe them.
Soothing in every season – surrender in every season – for me, that’s where it has to be. Won’t you join me if you feel the same way today? Join me in the lap of our Almighty Father. The parent of all parents. The One who never changes.
The One whose grace WILL conquer our grief.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.