Sunday, June 14, 2015

Daily Grief part 2 -The Faces of Grief

There is probably one picture that enters your mind when you think of grief. Crying.

Sadness is definitely one of the faces of grief, and it is probably the first face. When something difficult happens, whether we lose a loved one or find out our life will never be the same due to some circumstance, there is sadness.

If we assume, however, that sadness is the only sign of grief, then we will not only misinterpret others, but we will also hurt ourselves by not understanding why we are feeling the way we are feeling.

When anyone holds in an emotion, it will probably still come out but as something else. many time holding back crying introduces another face of grief - anger.

Sadness is accepted. Anger often turns to depression and despair. Sadness is accepted because it is the only face of grief that is not sinful.

I have experienced every face of grief in raising our son. I had heart-wrenching sadness when I found out he was unhealthy in my womb. That sadness sunk down and stayed there until he was born at which time, I experienced happiness that he was okay. Then once again sadness rose to the surface when things did not go as expected.

Then came sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is the enemy of grief. If anything causes the face of grief to turn from sadness to anger and bitterness, it is sleep deprivation. God gave us night for a reason, and when we do not rest, we do not think correctly, and we can fall into the sins of anger, anxiety, bitterness, and depression.

Our own minds are another enemy of grief. Give your mind an inch and it will take a mile. Let yourself dwell on your problems or compare your life to someone else's and godly grief will turn sinful.

It's wonderful to know that God understands our grief. He grieved with tears. He wept for his friend and his friend's family. Even the knowledge that He would raise Lazarus to life again did not stop the tears of empathy he let flow for His friends who experienced loss. He grieved for His own life while He prayed in the garden. He did this having known all along that this was His purpose - to die. Yet He grieved with tears and sweat drops of blood because of His anguish. What we do not see in His grief however is the anger, anxiety, and depression that we often experience as humans in grief.

We are sinners. Just like in many areas, we fall into the sinful behaviors even though grief is not sinful. How do we stop the cycle? How do we not become anger and lash out at God and at others? I fall into this almost daily. I know what the Bible says. I Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

As you grieve, cry out to the Lord and leave your care and sadness with Him. Accept His plan as best even though you don't understand. When you fall into the sinful side of grief, confess it and move on. Confess the sinful aspects of grief. God knows that you will grieve over the loss of a loved one or over expectations left unfulfilled, but grieve the way Christ grieved. He did so while accepting His Father's plan as best.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Daily Grief - Part 1

When it first happens you might not realize you are grieving. You might not be, yet.

I remember the day Trenton was born. I wasn't grieving. There was anxiety that built on more anxiety with each bit of bad news from doctors. That is when the grief came. We believed God was in control, but I think the news that he was blind and deaf hit us the hardest. It was heart-wrenching to think that our son would never hear or see. Thankfully, they were at least wrong about seeing, but that I think was the beginning of daily grief for us.

Grief happens in the day-to-day. It happens when no one else is there to see you. It happens first thing in the morning simultaneous to the joy that fills you at your child's baby-like smile and excitement. It happens at meal time in a restaurant when you don't order for him because he's tube fed, or it happens at church when you think about the nursery that he has never been a part of.

It is daily grief over unfulfilled expectations. It is the "hope deferred" that the Proverbs speak of that "makes the heart sick." (Proverbs 13:12)

Those who have lost loved ones experience daily grief long after others have mourned with them. Those who have not lost their loved one but deal with the daily struggles with them also experience a daily grief. Both grieve over an unexpected change - expectations unfulfilled concerning life.

Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in struggle."

Our grief is present but God's refuge and strength is as well.

Psalm 68:19 "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah."

He daily bears our load. He does not load us with anything unless it is the goodness and strength of Himself - God.

Luke 9:23 "And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Daily crosses are a part of following Christ. That sometimes means daily grief.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Human Nature

Some things have recently made me think about aspects of human nature. It's sad really how the sin that is a part of us even after we are saved can influence us to be unkind to those that are different than we are.

I've come to the realization that different is not a bad thing. As a child, I was emotional, so I got the reputation for crying a lot. I struggled with worry and perfectionism toward myself, and I got the reputation as the teacher's pet. I rarely got in trouble, and I hardly ever got angry. I would get sad. People picked on me because I was different. I worked hard in school. I got good grades. I was often the Citizen of the year in my class. I won awards in art. I was proud of that. I graduated with honors. Yet, I got picked on.

Fast forward 16 years. I have a 5 year old. He is amazing. He is artistic, intelligent, sensitive. He is not as fast as some kids his age, but he ran about 3 miles in an hour and walked another mile besides. He has endurance. Unfortunately, it's human nature not to focus on that. He gets teased sometimes for not being fast. Yet, he has all these wonderful traits and on top of that - he can run forever. It's our sinful nature that causes us to pick the one thing that we are better at than someone else and pick at it.

As an adult, I see the same tendency. It's not as obvious. It's actually pretty subtle. I meet people, I am excited and talk to them, but then I have the tendency to back off. It's probably the fact that my natural personality is an introvert even though I work on it. I find that wherever I am, I make a couple of good friends, and others are on just a hello basis. I find that I'm not the type of person that people go after as a friend. They are not eager to find out about me and who I am. It's human nature again. If we are a certain way, then we tend to be drawn to people that are like us. I have to work hard to get friends, and sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it if that is the way it is.

It's hard to be different, but it's important for us to remember that each of us are different. I know the importance of showing yourself friendly to get friends. At this time in my life, sometimes that's hard. With two kids - one with special needs, I say "no" a lot. Maybe sometimes too much. Then there are times when I can do things, and maybe there's nothing to do. The ups and downs of life are hard, but we need to keep in mind the lessons in them.

God made each of us, and each of us have a gift that someone else needs. That is not to say that we should go around saying, "you need me, so be my friend." That would be a little odd. Take the time though to see the people around you. Where are they at in life? How can I be their friend. They might have a different personality than you do, but nothing makes us into a well-rounded person than to get to know people who are different than us. Sometimes it takes work, and sometimes it might not feel like it's worth it, because it might not be as fun as hanging out with the people who are just like you.

Kids today call it bullying when someone is picked on for being different. As adults, sometimes we do the same thing, but we avoid giving it a name. Let's love one another as Christ loved us. That means even with our differences, sin problems, etc. That's the way he loved us and died for us to show that love. He spent time with the outsiders and those who didn't have a friend in the world. May we be the same way.