I was just speaking with a friend who has been dealing with grief. During our conversation she told me several times “you’ve got to put that on your blog”. Part of me had trouble accepting that encouragement; almost a fear of what if no one else agrees with her; what will people think of me? Huh, fear …. well now that doesn’t come from the Lord does it – for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
So here I am to share what God has revealed of Himself to me about grief.
From my own personal experience with grief what I have learned and shared with many others is that our western culture is VERY uncomfortable with grief. With the best intentions we want people to get over their grief quickly as possible for their grief makes us really uncomfortable because we don’t have answers to fix it for them.
Personally I’ve learned first hand that the promise “those who mourn will be comforted” (Matt 5:4) is true – the catch is we have to allow ourselves to mourn. So many times I heard “be strong” and you will get through this. For me, being strong just put a barrier between my heart and God’s comfort. When I gave my heart a voice and let it say whatever it needed to say; God met me in that place. Some of the things my heart needed to say were not even close to “religious” or “pretty”. But like I said in my post Unconditional Hope – God already knew what was in my heart, He just wanted me to know so we could do something about it.
One by one all the questions that seemed unanswerable to me; He has had an answer. The catch was – I had to get to the point where I wasn’t limiting God by telling Him what the answer had to look like. My list of “God A, B, or C will make me feel better or will fix this situation” wasn’t big enough for God. He is the God of the infinite and His answers draw from His infiniteness. He is too kind a God to answer us within the limitations we set. He wants us to experience the fullness of what He has for us … to meet our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19) The answers God had for me won’t look like your answers because He is not a one-size-fits-all God. He has your specific answer; your “portion” (Ps 73:26) and that does not take away from anyone else’s portion because He is infinite.
So what do I mean when I said “I gave my heart a voice”. For me, I was reading about how Israel turned to idols after being freed from the Egypt. They were on the edge of the promised land and they got scared and turned to idols rather than God. I asked God what do idols have to do with me? I heard one word “control”. Ouch. Nailed. How many times had I thought or said if I could just get my heart under control I’ll be OK or safe; I’ll be able to make my heart stop hurting. Control is a whole post unto itself, but for here … it was like I could see this idle of control up on this big pedestal and I was definitely turning to it for help and worshipping it with my words and actions. I repented for the choice I had made to turn to control rather than to turn to God to protect my heart. I asked for His forgiveness and I forgave myself for just not knowing what I was doing and asked God to put the complete work of the cross between me and the consequences of this sinful choice (as a side note, to me the definition of sin is anything that separates me from God).
After that I had some apologizing to do to my heart. I closed my eyes, put one hand on my heart and the conversation basically went something like this “Heart, I am so sorry for believing that you are my enemy and that all you do is cause me pain. Please forgive me heart.” Then God showed me for my heart to feel safe to speak, I needed to hand over the reins of who was running the show to Him, i.e., I thanked my intellect for working so hard to figure things out and my will for being to strong to literally keep me going on will-power, but it was just not working out for me with them and control running the show; I was completely worn out and exhausted. I submitted them to the authority of the Holy Spirit so that my heart could be safe to speak without my intellect and will beating it up for what it had to say.
Once my heart was safe to speak, I took the time to ask it what it wanted/needed to say. I still do this on a daily basis. Close my eyes, put my hand on my heart and just ask what do you want to say/tell me heart? You will be amazed at the treasures God has created for you in your heart. One of the very first things I learned is when I had shutdown/ closed off my heart not to feel the pain; I didn’t realize that I was also shutting off my access to joy. If your heart is shutdown; it’s shutdown. Kinda like your car engine; the key is either on or off, there is no “kinda on”.
One of my most recent heart revelations was this. God showed me a memory of when I was very young (3-4 years old). My Dad was very ill with hemorrhaging ulcers. I was so frightened but I didn’t want to bother anyone, especially Dad, with my fears to add to his or Mom’s problems. No one told me I couldn’t express my needs but I watched my Mom being so strong, not crying, taking care of him and I thought that’s how I need to be. In this moment of revelation God showed me — you were a little girl, she was a wife; you were trying to be a wife rather than a daughter; you’ve acted the same way with me trying to be a wife rather than my little girl. You will always be my little girl and can come to me with your needs. Then I saw what looked to me like the temple on the day of the crucifixion and saw the veil torn down the middle. I didn’t understand what I was seeing so I asked God – what does this mean? He told me simply “no more sacrificing of you to get to the mercy seat”. WOW. As God’s little girl I have direct access to His mercy 24/7 for all my needs. Talk about unconditional hope and peace.
So before I ramble on here too long (oops may already have done that 🙂 I want to share what God revealed to my friend today: you get to enjoy your life not just do your life. Why? Because in God’s presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures for every more (Ps 16:11). When she made the choice to let go of trying to tell God what life had to look life for her to have joy; she discovered unconditional joy waiting for her.
So the question with which I started today “Is that all there is” when facing grief?