The cloak of it was thick. The missing was heavy. With every fiber of my being I ached to hold him. To see his huge smile, bright eyes and wild hair one more time. Or a lot more times. Yes, I knew that just one more wouldn’t satiate my heart. In this single moment of awareness, just like that, no sunshine, no uplifting thought, no beautiful redemption could overcome what had clouded my being.
“Hey, excuse me, but can you just get back to grief please?” the cloud asks.
Yes, grief. There really is no escaping it. It’s been molding my life in ways that have stretched me and made me more aware. A blessing, to be honest. But then there’s this side of it. The side that aches at emptiness. And separation. And loss. The side that can’t fix what has caused that ache until all of time has acknowledged our God’s Victory.
Yes, here we are… getting back to grief.
Grief accompanies everything
I believe what I feel in grief goes beyond the loss of my son and the fight for my other. It encompasses all of life. My marriage, my friendships, my daily energy level, my desire to step into something new, run away from life, eat all the sugar, hug my loved ones, collapse on the couch for a nap, run a 5k, grow defensive, gain deeper empathy… do you see what I am saying here? Grief accompanies everything.
And sometimes, with grief, it feels like we are swept up in a current we will never be able to control. Maybe that’s the point? I think we all crave a life full of joy, contentment, adventure and love. We want to succeed in our endeavors, cross over to greener pastures, and find fulfillment there while journeying with those we love and feel loved by in return.
So, what do we do when circumstances run amuck threatening to ruin it all? What do we do when we find that, although our eyes see, we are actually quite blind and need eye surgery (or heart surgery) to find our way back to this good place? And what happens when that road isn’t going to be a nice short-cut, but a path of life that jerks, trips, and pushes us to places out of our comfort zones?
Discovering God’s character in the midst of grief
I was blessed to grow up with a mom and a dad who shaped a picture of a good God who loved and cared for me no matter where I might find myself in life. I was lovingly pushed and encouraged through life, whether I landed in the middle of conflict or found success. Through demonstration, they taught me that even when unexpected life happens, we can choose to live fully because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and His ability to redeem all things. As I’ve grown, moved to different parts of the country and our social circles widened, I experienced many different theologies and viewpoints. Those experiences expanded my faith in so many ways as I witnessed others living a dedicated life to this God of love. But I also found toxicity existed in how we developed our perspective of God and what His role in our lives should be.
As our boys grew sick, the “name it and claim it” phrase happened across our ears multiple times. “Just have more faith,” well-intentioned people would say. “God will heal your boys. Just ask him. If you fully believe it in your heart, it will be!”
As well-meaning as these people were, what was left over from those conversations was a boat-load of guilt. Guilt that maybe my boys weren’t healed because I couldn’t pray for it the right way. I’m thankful God gave me the wisdom to see through that lie quicker then you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (yes, I googled the spelling).
My prayer every night
Each night, I would breathe a prayer over Titus asking God to open our eyes to see Him in all of this dying happening around us. I would breathe out a request to heal my son. I would breathe out a plea to change my heart, for God to hold my son in ways I could not, and for Him to gather us all up in his arms. I asked him to allow the faith I did have to be enough. And for the grief my heart felt to not be felt outside His arms. I needed my Father’s shelter and grace to get through each moment.
What I find as I discover God’s character over and over again, is that when we label Him as a “name it and claim it” genie, we lay ground rules stating those who don’t find healing and remain in troubled waters are doing it all wrong. And that somehow, they aren’t worth enough for God Almighty to meet them on the path, for they didn’t know the magic words, the secret password.
Stepping into a different kind of brave
Friends, if I learned anything, I’ve learned that grief and God go together. I’ve learned that loss and brokenness and Jesus CAN and DO reside in the same room. To have one does not mean the absence of the other. And if we think that way, we are seeing it all from the wrong perspective.
If you were told this and learned to believe in this way, can I dare you to be brave enough to consider a new way? There is a different kind of brave we can tap into on our journey in this life. It is a kind of brave sourced from a God of love who enables us to take a step forward into a broken marriage, a lonely divorce, a battle with sick kids, a job loss, depression and anxiety. It is a brave Who assures you- you are not taking that step forward alone. He is with you, even here, always here, especially here. Can you get back to grief and find strength, perspective, love, and joy? Yes, you can. Safely. Held. Loved. Always.
Stay tuned. I will be sharing some of the truths that broke me free to live with the hope and joy of Christ, no matter what life circumstances held.
Thanks for listening,
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