Dealing with Grief (2)

Two weeks ago I sat on Worthing beach and admitted to God that I am not all right.  So what has happened since then?  The immediate thing that happened was a profound sense of relief – that it’s all right not to be all right sometimes.

The other thing was a deeper sense of engagement with God.  I think this is always the result when we are honest with Him.  It’s not that what we tell Him comes as a startling revelation to Him, of course not – He already knew how I was feeling better than I knew it myself.  But somehow being deeply honest with Him about exactly how I am takes down a barrier of my own making and ushers me further into His embrace.  It’s a good place to be.  I would even say, from fairly long experience, it’s worth the pain we go through to get to that place.

That was a discovery I first made in 1996 when Ellen had just had major spinal surgery.  It saved her life which was by then hanging by a thread.  But it also robbed her of some of the scant use she still had left of her limbs and worsened her disabilities.  And as her mother I discovered such a depth of comfort in Jesus that I realised it’s worth anything we go through just to know that our comfort comes from Him; because if we were never in need of comfort, or never admitted our need, there’s a whole aspect of Jesus we would never encounter.

In the past couple of weeks, I have had a bit of a meltdown – I’m still quite fragile, and it doesn’t take much to push me into scary-not-coping territory – this week it was something as minor as both our pets being ill that was the final straw.

But, gradually, I am starting to feel, if not all right, then at least that I can see I will at some point be all right again.  This is a journey. It can only be taken step-by-step.  Flying leaps don’t get you further along, they just result in faceplants.  Maybe the Psalmist knew that when he wrote, “The steps of a good man (or woman!) are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”  Step by step God has marked out this path for me, and as I make each tiny forward movement He is delighted with my progress.

That definitely makes this more bearable because it becomes purposeful.  Somehow, somewhere, this experience I am going through fits into God’s great scheme of things, and its purpose will one day be revealed.  So I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death, not setting up camp here.

 

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10 thoughts on “Dealing with Grief (2)

  1. Not sure whether you receive the ACW eNews or not? In the last one, against advice given me, I admitted to ‘not feeling alright’. The response I’ve received from ACW members has been overwhelming, convincing me that honesty with ourselves, with God, and with others is the way forward. It brings healing in its wake. And isn’t it precisely what Jesus did when he asked his father to take away the cup he was about to have to drink?

  2. Sorry, didn’t finish that. I was going to say ‘well said’ Ros. And having been through similar circumstances as those you’re experiencing, I can assure you that you’re not alone in feeling as you do. May God bless you, and your family. xx

  3. ‘Being honest with God”: an interesting thought. There is a lot about being ‘honest’ among Christians today: which suggests… that we as a group have felt a need to be dishonest… which is a frightful thought, and points to a more frightful one: that members of the Christian community have, for too long, felt a need to appear to be rejoicing under all circumstances, equating this with having a smile on your face and saying that you are okay when you are not. And, sadly, being seen through by people who are not Christians. It’s probably that the phrase doesn’t quite meanwhat we have interpreted it as… Grief is normal, totally a normal response, and if we can’t respect those are grieving, what harm are we doing to one another? I know like many I have gone through times of grief, hiding it really because it simply didn’t fit anywhere. I do feel for you. It is wonderful that you can expereicne God’s presence and comfort in it. And hopefully not feel at all guilty for being rightfully devastated. It is earlydays, and if God knows all about all of it,He also also has no plans to make you hurry. Took me a very long time to feel I would be okay again. Don’t try to hurry it. Blessings, Clare (I hope this doesn’t sound too intellectual.. itis written from the heart not the head.)

    • Claire – I do think Christians, perhaps especially those of us who have grown up in Christian homes – do feel under pressure to keep up a certain appearance. And the most liberating thing is to discover that we don’t have to, indeed we’re not meant to. But I do also see a difference between rejoicing and happiness – even at times of great sadness there can still be an undercurrent of joy. Maybe sadness is an affliction of the soul and joy is a characteristic of the spirit, so they can co-exist.

      • Ros, I hope that isn’t a ‘ticking off’ about rejoicing/being happy! It’s the denial of feelings which are real that I am talking about – I’m not EXACTLY sure of your definition of each, but I believe that it’s a confusion between the 2, (rejoicing/being happy) and what they ‘look like’ which has led a large proportion of Christians to be burdened by the pretence and the subsequent appearance of dishonesty. It’s interesting that so many are now talking about ‘honesty’. I was raised to put honesty high on the list of Christian behaviour – but that’s not primarily about my feelings, more about my dealings… and have been saddened and horrified by the pretence-of-being-okay culture. Perhaps ‘rejoice under all circumstances’ has been misunderstood, and as you say, happiness and rejoicing are essentially different: rejoicing being more to do with peace, and happiness being a more fleeting emotional thing.
        I do know grief which I have hidden, by the way. It’s corrosive, and takes longer to work through. Possibly the middle path is when people can accept that each other are in grief, but there is no fear that they will judge, for any reason at all. And the acceptance that we can be sad before God

  4. Not at all a ticking off Clare – more an attempt to explore both my own feelings and what you wrote and try to put it all into words – something this wordsmith is finding surprisingly hard at the moment. I grew up in a family where it was largely unacceptable to express disagreement, certainly unacceptable to express anger, and where it was important to become a “mature” Christian. In such a setting, to be seen not to be coping is regarded as a serious failure. I’ve seen my own mother sail through 50 years of acute rheumatoid arthritis, cancer (twice) and widowhood with as far as I can tell genuine peace and joy, a very high standard to live up to. I haven’t read much about honesty – maybe we don’t read the same publications – but I have found in my own experience that being free to admit that I don’t live up to the exacting standards of my childhood has not made me a “failed” Christian after all, but has brought me into a much closer and more real experience of God’s nearness, His presence in me and unity with me, if that makes sense.

    • You certainly aren’t a ‘failed’ Christian: and your childhood must’ve been really hard. And your mother a hard act to follow… (not meaning ‘act’ that she wasn’t genuine, just using the phrase to mean, as I understand it, from the ‘acts’ of a play – what has happened in the story…)
      Where I have read about ‘honesty’ lately is really on ACW Facebook and the blogs various people write, and the comments: a lot about ‘I admire your honesty’, which has amazed me in the contexts, and reminded me of the times of discovering how many Christians covered up grief or, as you have referred to it, disagreement. It’s discernable sometimes that someone disagrees, or whatever, but …
      Reading this I ‘ve begun to feel it’s a trend but maybe not… the NT teaching on these things is perhaps something we’d all benefit from really looking into with culturally-learned ways laid aside… Blessings…

  5. HI Ros. Just read your blog and found it very moving and beautifully expressed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. May God bless and encourage you in many small ways in the coming days. x

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