Navigating Grief with Grace 1.2: “You’re Normal”
The first thing I want to address within this episode is that we can often feel all out of sorts and let's be honest, we feel crazy. Well, GOOD News: You are normal!
In the midst of grace, the early days, and even some ways down the road, I often felt as though I was navigating in a haze. I experienced a whole lot of brain fog and many “Is this real?” moments. Some days it just doesn't feels real that you are living in a world without your loved one or ones.
How you're feeling in the midst of your grief is valid. (We just cannot allow our feelings to control us. Easier said than done and we will most likely cover this later.) Feeling sad? Moody? Feeling kind of bitter? Like a recluse? Yeah, I was there. But you know what? According to some of the pros out there, it is pretty normal to feel all of these things, but not stay this way. It’s hard to move forward and you may very well feel like when you take steps forward you’ll take a couple backward. But hold on to the hope that you will one day get better. I’m not sure that we will ever “arrive” so to say fully healed of grief but we will get better by the grace of God. Cling to hope.
You are going to feel all kinds of emotions, and express them. Expressing and talking about your feelings can help you feel validated and seen. Also, by expressing these emotions, you are less likely to lash out at those around you. I’m so guilty of this. I had so so much hurt and anger in my heart when my mom passed on. Do you know what I discovered? Hurting people hurt people. I’m not sure why it took me so long to learn this, but it felt like an epiphany at the time I did.
Unfortunately, during my early grieving days I was clingy and angry towards my then-boyfriend, now husband. I was very snappy and clingy - not very good traits to have in a relationship. Instead of truly discussing how I felt I became reliant upon Cage (my husband, then boyfriend) for happiness. I relied on him to hang out with me, take me out, anything to distract me from what I was truly dealing with on the inside. When he couldn’t make time for me or something inconvenient or irritating (then again everything was irritating to me then) happened I would be easily angered. I was definitely not living with the fruits of the Spirit in me when I was being run by my internal, unaddressed emotions. As a result of this and his believing I was not moving forward in life fast enough within the months of September 2015 to July 2017 (to give you an idea of how long I was suppressing my emotions and not properly dealing with them) we split. Five years into our relationship and almost 2 years post my mom’s passing we went our separate ways. Had to deal with my first (and last) breakup without my mom. That was hard.
So, even though Cage broke up with me and I still give him a hard time about it, I needed that isolation to reset my dependence on God. I share this part of my story so that hopefully you can relate or learn the impacts of suppressed emotions and grow from it. I suppressed my feelings instead of working through them which takes bravery. With that being said, I applaud you for reading this post and/or listening to this podcast. You're taking some steps in the right direction. You’ll get there. We’ll get there together! It took so much effort to move forward. I often felt like Gideon (Judges 6-8). I needed a sign that I could and would be okay if I moved forward. I needed more and more affirmation that future changes would be okay. God proved time and time again that He would protect Gideon on his journey. You know what? God still does the same for us today. I love that story because when doubt creeps in, I remember the multiple times God has come through for me.
Anyway, we can talk about that in-depth another day. Back on track to what I was saying, courage, and bravery, those are traits we develop in order to grow from our grief and not drop that burden on others around us through our need to be happy and ignore our feelings. Yes, we’re called to bear one another’s burdens but this ain’t it. That pressure is what caused Cage and I to go our separate ways at that time, but I got to learn to finally be dependent on God - God is fully capable of carrying my burdens. That is the purpose of the cross. Jesus’ words: “It is finished” (“Tetelestai”) not only apply to our sins but to every fleshly burden we carry, we get to lay those at the cross. With that, with grace, I was able to go on a journey with God where we untangled my emotions and my anger towards Him which lead me to the path of healing.
So, with these emotions you're feeling, you can trust God with them. If you are angry at Him, He can take it. We serve a big God who can handle our anger and our tears along with whatever is in between.
This stuff is difficult which is why I hope you can relate to me somehow, someway, or just gain insight. Gain a sense of feeling seen and unity. Only by God’s grace can we unwrap our tangled yarn of emotions. If you are angry with God, be patient with yourself as you navigate this new relationship your heart yearns for with God, even when your emotions do not. Get away from an if, then mindset with God and go all in with Him on this journey. We can be tempted to say, “God if you take away this pain, then I will begin to be devoted to you.” True healing starts when we say: “God, I am in so much pain, but I know you are bigger so I am going to praise you through the pain.” It took me almost two years to get there. Be patient with yourself. Remember it is by God’s grace we can endure and then thrive. His grace is sufficient for our journey.
Before ending, let’s close with some Scripture:
His grace is sufficient - “8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Coritnhians 12: 8 - 10, NLT
When we are grieving, we want so badly for God to just take away the pain. Instead of doing just that, He makes sure we grow through our pain. There are quite a few growing pains that come from grief from what I have experienced. Once we give ourselves over to God, He can take our weakness and use it. His strength in our weakness is a testament to the God we serve.
We do not grieve as this world grieves -
The Hope of the Resurrection
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NLT
Praise be to God that we do not grieve as the world grieves. From my personal experience, I know that my mom has entered heaven’s gates so I cling to that hope. While not everyone claims this assurance, we do know that we serve a God who wants His people to be saved and fill heaven. So we do not know what happens in those last moments before someone passed. Did they accept Christ in those last moments, realizing their need for Him just in time? We don’t have all these answers but we have hope. Hope that we can get through our grief and be completely healed in glory when we meet God for we know there will be no more tears (Revelation 21:4, NLT: He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”)
Cling to Scripture as your lifeline.
God bless you.