Tag Archive | loss

Truly a narrow path..

 

 

I had a vision of the narrow path today when we were out walking. The Lord was showing me something in a picture that totally makes sense to me..yet I never saw it as clearly as I did today. When we first enter into a relationship with the Lord our path looks a certain way.. we may become part of a community of Believers and enter into all the activities of the church..most of us have had this experience. As we move along in our faith many of those activities may seem less attractive and we may feel like it is time to become less committed to the church and more committed to our relationship with the Lord. This can be a startling change for us.. what exactly are we to tell everyone? Will they be able to  understand our new choices? Is it OK to say no and to slow down the pace of our life? Shouldn’t we continue to serve and give? There are no pat answers to these questions.. because the answer has to come from the Lord to us. What is He wanting in this season as the old things don’t fit anymore?

This is what I saw in the picture. We were on a wider part of the path .. many people were walking with us and we felt like we were included and needed and supported by others. Then as the path became more narrow.. there were fewer people doing the things we were doing. We can see them behind us.. still very actively involved in many activities but we are being called forward.. closer to Him but further away from others.. our journey has different challenges than it had in the beginning. It seems easier to get distracted and we feel a pull back to what we once knew.. But He calls us to come closer.. and to come alone. I see the path winding up a hill with challenges along the way.. there are other paths with people saying ” come this way” but that is not what the Lord is saying. He is drawing us closer so that we have eyes only for Him. Remember that this path is leading to the end of our lives and we must walk those last miles alone.. trusting Him with the changes that happen as we grow older and as we lose more and more people.. as dreams die and opportunities fade. The good news is we see Him more clearly and as our faith is tested we trust Him more fully. There is no other way.

So I am praying and asking God to keep me on that path. To block out all the voices that try to pull me in the wrong direction. I want to follow Him up that winding path.. to stay close to Him as the path seems to disappear at times.. My desire is to hear Him as He leads me and to trust Him with everything.. Let it be so Lord!

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
    so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help”

 

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Grief.. a very long and very lonely journey

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I decided to write about grief again. It used to appear more regularly on this blog, but it has been quite a while since I posted on this topic. There seems to be some misconceptions about what happens when we suffer losses.  All losses involve grief at some level, but some are more intense than others. Of course the loss of a loved one is at the top of the list. We encounter deep grief when someone close to us dies. Our hearts are filled with a heaviness that is indescribable.. loneliness at the deepest level possible. One thing that troubles me in our culture is the absence of information on grief.. the denial of grief and the way people feel like they need to hide their grief. What a tragedy this is. God allows us to feel grief and it is a very natural part of life. No one gets through this life without going through losses and the older you get, the more you will experience. In the light of that information.. we need to know all we can about this journey we call grief.

It is impossible to say when your first big loss will occur. Sometimes children have their first huge loss in childhood.. a grandparent, friend, or sibling. Their feelings are deep and troubling and we can only hope and pray there is an adult present to help them process the loss. You may not experience this level of loss until adulthood.. that is quite common. When you do.. it will hit you hard.. your capacity to understand how you feel will be very limited. Unless the person who died was very ill for a long time.. you will not be prepared. Even if that is the case.. you may still find it totally disorienting and scary. Sudden tragic death is even harder to deal with..everything in us wants to cry out No.. this did not happen.

Grief has a life of its own and cannot be controlled. It often starts out slowly.. God’s grace for us includes a period of shock.. we don’t actually realize what has happened.  Slowly the shock wears off and each time a season changes or a holiday passes..we feel the loss all over again… almost as though it just happened. People who have lost spouses will often say the second year is worse than the first.. this is because as time passes the loss is more and more real. Your loved one is not there to celebrate holidays or witness important family events.. Feelings of grief are hard to understand unless you have an awareness of the process.. you may feel angry, frustrated, depressed, sad and lonely at different times or almost all at once. People have wondered if they were losing their minds because their grief was so confusing and intense. You may be very alone with your grief.. others can express their sorrow and understand your loss from a distance, but they are not with you every night when the lights go out. Many people spend sleepless nights crying and wondering if life will ever return to normal. Eventually.. you will come to a place of acceptance, but no one can tell you how long that will take. It is different for every person.. each of us grieves differently and uniquely.

No… Life will never be the same. You have joined a club you never wanted to join. You will never get over your grief.. you will learn to live with it.. if you process it and don’t stuff your feelings. Most depressed people suffer from unresolved grief.. many addicts become addicted when they encounter a loss and are unwilling to face what has happened. Not allowing yourself to cry and to suffer will only hurt you more in the long run. In our busy culture, people feel like they need to look like they have bounced back even before the grieving process has started. There is no time to waste.. life must go on.

My purpose in writing this is to give you permission to grieve.. not only your personal losses but the loses we read about every day online or hear about in the news. the losses our friends experience that tear our hearts apart. These things affect us deeply and we don’t need to block these feelings or pretend that they don’t. We live in a fallen world and there is suffering every single day all around the world. God grieves for those who are hurting and He gives us the capacity to do that same thing..

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  

Jesus wept.

Half the year..

2013 is half over. We’ve reached the half way mark today. God has been busy this year doing all kinds of things. I can only imagine what will happen in the months to come. Fourteen years ago I began my life over in the month of July. Since that time, nothing has ever been the same. I was widowed July 6, 1999. . the beginning of a new season in my life.

Because the marriage was extremely difficult, I grieved but I also felt a sense of relief. God was setting me free to experience so many new things that I could have never anticipated. So here I am, married again..for 11 years..rejoicing in the goodness of our God. I remember thinking that my life was over..how could I start over after a 25 year relationship? What would my new life even look like? It was very scary and a little exciting.

My new life started up almost instantly and it was filled with surprises. God blessed me with a new husband, wonderful son-in-law,  and three amazing grandchildren. .  I married into a wonderful faith filled family and acquired three grown step children and ten more grandchildren.. I was given the opportunity to go to seminary and start my own counseling practice. I’ve had time to spend many wonderful hours with my daughter.. making up for the years when we were unable to have the relationship I always wanted.

God continues to bless me with new friends and wonderful opportunities to do His kingdom work. All those years when I wondered if my life would ever change were not wasted. He was preparing me for this season when I would use my life experience to minister to the brokenhearted.

To God be the Glory.. He brings life out of death..He is always doing a new thing and today is the beginning of a new season! Rejoice in Him.

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Emerging from the darkness..

What darkness? I’m not exactly sure.. all I know is that things have been incredibly difficult for the last year. A year ago I was preparing to go on a wonderful trip to Hawaii..I was very fearful that I would not be able to make the trip because of the condition of my emotions and body. I was grieving over the death of my Dad ( a delayed reaction) and still grappling with the aging of my 90-year-old mom..watching her deteriorate.

A year later I am looking at pictures of that trip on my screen saver..still missing my Dad and Mom is now 91. This was a hard year.. but there is freedom in facing things. No one is prepared for the death of their parents. Very little is written about it..as though it is a rare phenomenon. With Dad I grieved long after he was gone.. with Mom I am grieving while she is still here. The loss is huge.

Mother’s Day just happened and Father’s Day is around the corner. Each of these days can be a trigger for old emotions that are trying to come to the surface. As you work through your grief and get in touch with your emotions, remember that this is a healing process. Holidays are often the most difficult time of the year when it comes to processing grief and loss.

This year I am going to remember Dad and rejoice in the ways he was a wonderful father while forgiving him for being human. As for Mom..she is who she is and I am accepting her knowing that God is at work in her life.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”                      (Matt 5:4)

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Excavating

If you’ve been reading my blog.. you know that my passion in life is to see God bring healing to His people. As a counselor.. there is nothing more important to me than being a part of this deep work that He is doing through the Holy Spirit. For the last year I’ve been in a season of grief and healing..yes the two often go together. When we grieve God has an opportunity to go deep into our hearts and bring up things that we might never look at under other circumstances. I would go so far as to say that without grief, the healing really isn’t complete.

When God opens a wound from the past.. there are emotions that become jarred loose and we find ourselves face to face with our losses. Every life is full of them. The older we get, the more losses we experience..it is inevitable. I have some very deep wounds from the 25 years I spent in an abusive marriage. When it was over, 14 years ago, I began to grieve and unravel my past. Recently God has been excavating some remaining emotions from that time.

He is going deep into the recesses of my heart and pulling out old memories and the feelings that are connected to them. It is a painful process and even more so since so much of it is happening in the middle of the night. I imagine because it is a time when I am quiet and not busy with life. So I am sleep deprived but looking forward to the fruit that is going to come from this season of healing. As I work with my counseling clients.. I am constantly reminded by the Lord that I am only His instrument and their healing comes from His hand.

“The wounded healer is a phenomenon that occurs between the healer and the one receiving the healing. Psychologist Carl Jung used the phrase to describe experiences in the relationship between the counselor and their patient, where the counselor would examine themselves and experience depths of their own pain, in order to probe, understand, and heal the pain of their patient. Jung expressed that the experience was entirely necessary to the healing process, as well as warned of its many dangers.”

Jesus is our wounded healer..the one who enables us to become the same for those He brings into our path.

 

Thirteen years ago..

today..I was widowed after living in a very difficult relationship for 25 years. I lived in a prison that I did not deserve..with an addict who never tasted the freedom that God wanted to give him. I thought my life was over when this happened..I thought I was too old to start over. I could not see a future for myself..God had a different plan.

My life now is unbelievable..I have an amazing husband , wonderful grandchildren, a beautiful place to live, lots of free time for the things I love. God has been so good to me. He has given me more than I could ever ask for or even dream about. He continues to surprise me. He has replaced my small sad story by placing me in His larger story..a great adventure..the abundant  life that I was longing for.

Now..this does not mean there are no problems..or that my life is a bowl of cherries. There are struggles and challenges..loss and disappointment. The good and the hard..they go hand in hand. He is the redeemer and the one who takes all of it and uses it for good. His plan is perfect and He is to be trusted.

I am celebrating His goodness today..recognizing His faithfulness and encouraging you to do the same. Take a little time to stand back from your life..look for the thin places where His goodness breaks through and your are overwhelmed by His love.

” Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.”

Living through grief..

The last two months have been incredibly difficult. Today I found myself reading up on grief again. I have a library of grief books..a collection I began 12 years ago when I was widowed and yet I am so immersed in grief that I fail to realize what is happening. That’s how it works..it is so intense..you feel as though you are going crazy.

My emotions are up and down. There are days when  I feel like I am normal and the next day I am crying, sleepless, and depressed. The sadness is overwhelming and the loneliness is unbearable. Grieving takes enormous energy..not the time to have insomnia..but that is my body’s response. Some people seem to sleep through their grief..but probably not most of us. Grief is emotional and physical..it is draining and unbearable at times.

So why doesn’t God do away with it? I don’t have the answer..but I know the grief process is part of life..that He allows it and encourages us to embrace it. For me..grief causes me to cling as tightly to Him as I can.. there is really nowhere else to go. How do you explain to family or friends a condition that you barely understand?

Right now I am grieving the loss of my family of origin.. my Dad (who died), my Mom who is 90  and could go at anytime..as well facing a lifetime of estrangement from my only sibling. It is incredibly difficult to let go of all the people who knew you as a child.. All of but one of my older relatives are gone and I am not very close to their remaining children. My past is passing away..

Part of me is dying with it. It is an opportunity for God to do something new in me and I am praying that I can grieve fully and deeply.. enabling Him to bring good fruit from this season of my life. If you are grieving, don’t hide it. We live in a culture where grief is rarely acknowledged..most people outlive their parents, but few books are written on this topic. I find that very strange. We deny the seriousness of the grieving seasons.. yet life is full of these times. Loss is an inevitable part of life in this fallen world.

Many people experience deep depression because they have failed to grieve their losses..it takes a toll on us. We also experience grief when we anticipate a death.. watching someone fade away physically or mentally. This is a surprise to some people..I have been in this state for 5 years with my Mom..no closure..only waiting and wondering. My hospice counselor calls it a marathon..the long good-bye.

All we can do is face the truth and ask God for courage..He is with us and He came to heal our broken hearts. It helps to remember.. He was one of us.

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy”