Grief is an unravelling of everything we once knew and were. It isn’t that we can’t heal. As we heal, we are transformed by the wounds we sustained. Our former self no longer exists, and we are forever changed. If you look for us as we were, you will not find us.
The extreme loss a widow experiences forever changes who she once was. Each of us faces and deals with the trauma in our own unique way. Healing and growth are only possible when we commit ourselves to the difficult task of addressing grief and taking the steps necessary to progress forward.
Adversity exposes our need to place our utter reliance on God because we are completely helpless in our own strength. I admit I can’t do this on my own. When we partner with God and give Him our grief and ask Him to help us, He is faithful to step in and not only bring the healing we need, but He shows us what we need to do as well. We exercise our faith that God loves us and wants the best for us. We trust Him to show us how to navigate this situation so we can heal and learn what His plans are for our future.
Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.
Hebrews 11: 1 TPT
Like learning anything worthwhile, we not only need to commit ourselves for the long haul, we need to be aware we are likely to encounter setbacks and disappointments along the way. Sometimes we might stumble and other times we might make mistakes. Grief is an emotional journey, so sometimes we might find ourselves derailed by triggers of overwhelming feelings or memories. This is normal and expected. When we choose to give ourselves the grace to be real and honest with ourselves, and let God lead us in His wisdom, we can get back on track more efficiently.
I’ve recently found myself struggling with chaotic emotions and difficulty thinking clearly. I’ve been in battle with the grief from the loss of my husband for almost four years. I was making good progress in this dance with grief. From experience, I learned some of the things that tend to trigger my emotions and how to navigate the slippery slopes and the rapids that threaten to overturn the boat and send me floundering to swim my way back to the surface and then the shore. I wrote this little poem to try to find words to express the chaos of grief.
Sometimes grief is noisy,
Sometimes grief is still.
It can push your buttons
Or drive you up the hill.
Sometimes grief is sneaky,
Hiding out of sight.
Just when you let your guard down
It attacks you in the night.
Grief knows how to linger,
In our thoughts and in our hearts.
Through passing days and seasons
Remind me we’re apart.
So I must learn to tame it,
Not let it be a thief.
Give God my cares and heartache.
And restore me through the grief.
Last month a dear friend of mine lost her battle with brain cancer and moved to Heaven. Our friendship began when she became my daughter’s psychologist. She helped my husband and I navigate our daughter’s tumultuous years of middle and high school after she assisted to diagnose her with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. With her expertise and guidance, our daughter not only graduated high school, she earned her bachelor’s degree and is able to work full time.
Our friendship grew as my friend’s husband suffered a stroke, and then my husband was diagnosed with his degenerative neurological disease. We leaned on each other and helped each other. She was diagnosed with brain cancer about a month before my husband moved to Heaven. Our lives were both in chaos, yet we kept in touch and continued to minister to each other. When I moved back to this part of the country a couple years ago, I knew I was in the area where she lived. What I didn’t know was God placed me right next door to her.
She was doing so much better, and God allowed me to be able to pour into her life now. God used it to draw me out of my pit of despair and have the time we needed to enrich our friendship while letting me serve her in her vulnerabilities. As her health began its rapid decline, professionals were needed to support the level of care she required.
Once again, just as I thought I would have more time with my husband, I believed God would heal her. I wasn’t prepared to say goodbye yet. There were so many things we hoped to share together. God had a different plan. She is out of pain and confusion and living in peace and joy.
I realized the chaos my mind and body is reacting to lately is because of this new loss and coupled with the fourth anniversary of my husband’s move to Heaven just around the corner. I thought I was making good progress on my healing journey. I needed to acknowledge to myself I am! I also need to let myself process these events and put the chaos I’m dealing with in perspective.
Grief doesn’t just end and disappear. It ebbs and flows. Suffering may come. Glory will follow. When darkness falls, we need to connect to the light, the light of God, and let the light drive out the darkness. The pain is real and at times it is almost unbearable.
The life-giving Holy Spirit within me keeps reminding me my book of life has many chapters. The section where I got to live with my husband and enjoy all the gifts and graces God bestowed during those years was only a part of my story. My friendship with Carol added beauty and life in wonderful ways as God used her to bring hope and healing we so desperately needed. Then God blossomed that relationship from a professional connection to a remarkable bond that enriched each of our lives.
Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died. He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. Even with this reality, His heart of compassion for us in our grief was unashamedly expressed in His openness to weep with His hurting friends who only knew the pain they were in. Some were even questioning how Jesus could allow His friend to die when He healed so many others.
Jesus expressed His emotions. He came as a man to experience what we experience. He sympathizes with us in our pain… in our uncertainty… even when we doubt and question our circumstances. He was showing us it is okay to show and express our emotions. He was letting us know He wants us to share even these troubling and painful experiences with Him. He understands because He experienced them too. We can be honest and not hide anything from Him. He not only already knows it, He deeply cares how these life moments impact our hearts and minds.
This road we’re on is bumpy and full of potholes. There are turns, valleys, mountains, and tunnels. We just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and hold on to our hope. Hope is a beacon of light we look to knowing the difficulties and troubles are only a part of the trail. There are and will be days of sunshine and rainbows ahead that make the effort worth it. Now is a fleeting moment in time. The future is full of promise. We will find joy again. We will laugh again. We will rest and find peace again.
Faith gives our hope substance. Believe big. Use your faith to believe God will restore and rebuild you as you grow and mature. God can use you to do big things. Leave despair behind. Dream big. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. The Lord is our shepherd. He restores and heals our heart. Jesus thinks your heart is precious and He wants to restore it. He is faithful. He is good. You matter. You’re not forgotten. We serve a God who is more than enough. We abound to do every good work by the grace of God.
As chapters of your life close, remember your book is still being written. My prayer for you today is for blessings to overtake you. Believe big. Pray big prayers. Help someone else build their dream. Keep stepping forward in faith knowing the best is still to come.
But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!
Romans 5: 3-5 TPT
So I said, “Here I am! I’m coming to you as a sacrifice, for in the prophetic scrolls of Your book You have written about me. I delight to fulfill Your will, my God, for Your living words are written upon the pages of my heart.”
Psalm 40: 7-8 TPT