Tag Archive | tears

Revisiting Romans 8:28

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been thinking about this verse lately and feeling like I need to write about it. You know the one I mean ” God works all things to the good of those who love Him” or as the Message says:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

I need to believe that right now.. usually I keep the details of my life fairly private. I don’t think it is a great idea to pour out your heart on a blog..I use my journal for that purpose. However today I feel the need to share a bit of my story. Over the last 5 years we have been going through the fire.. my husband lost his job, then could not find another one for 31/2 years and after that we took a cleaning job for the church that was pretty much unbearable for all of last year. It was clear during that time that my husband was not doing well and something was wrong.. but not clear what it was. I was afraid to find out his diagnosis so we delayed going to the neurologist until last month.. unfortunately the news is not good, he has a rare form of aphasia that is progressive and there is no cure.. you can look it up if you like. What has this meant for us? Everything in our lives has completely changed and we are facing a very unknown future ..It feels like life as we once knew it is gone. All our hopes and dreams are gone.. even many of the activities we once did are out of reach these days.

Fear and grief are my constant companions..especially in the middle of the night. Loneliness and isolation are close by as well.. sadness and loss seem to be the new reality. So this brings me back to Romans 8:28.. I see no way that God is going to work this into something good.. but because He never lies, He will. Is that comforting.. not really.. I just want everything back the way it used to be before this disease entered our lives.. I know that the Lord is teaching me things right now, but honestly I don’t want to learn them.. enough is enough. So I continue to trust that He is involved in our lives and we are not forsaken.. I hope to write more on this blog and to work on my book that I want to finish during this season. I am praying for God to provide since we have no resources..we are in His hands totally.. Some days I feel like the disciples in the boat with Jesus.. filled with fear and anxiety while He is sleeping.. wondering when I am going to drown in this sea of sorrow..

So pray for us please.. and if you get a word of encouragement.. please post it here and we will be grateful…..More words of wisdom from Eugene Peterson’s the Message….

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Cor 1:3-5)

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Rough Waters..

 

This has been a very difficult year so far and it does not show signs of letting up..trials continue and seem overwhelming at times.  In the beginning of every year I hope for an easier time in the next year and for a long time that has not been the case.. in fact it seems like the opposite has happened. Each new trial is more challenging than the last.. time to take a look at that. What is God up to? He could intervene and remove the challenges..He is able to smooth things out so they are not so rough. He allows these tests to come into my life and He brings the storms.

Do I have answers for you? No.. I don’t. All I know is that He is at work and He is in control. His plan is unfolding daily for my life and for yours. He is doing things in us through the suffering. Unfortunately that is the way it seems to work.. we are being drawn closer to Him because we feel like the next wave of disappointment or grief will drown us. For me.. as I am aging and facing things I never expected.. I find that nothing matters as much as I thought when it comes to this life.. It all seems so important doesn’t it? We long for things and dream dreams about our future.. yet it is clear we were not made for this world. So much heartbreak and sadness in our lives and the lives of those around us.

As a counselor, I may be more aware of this than most people. I hear the stories.. I see the sadness in their faces.. women of all ages. Their lives are very difficult and their past is far from perfect. I have no illusions about the condition of the world or the condition of people’s hearts.  As I work with others.. the Lord works on me.. going deeper and drawing me into a greater dependence on Him and His spirit.. I suffer with them and cry with them.

Why? Because He is the comforter.. not me.. He is their savior, not me.. He is the one who will bring healing.. not me. We need to know our own limitations if we are going to walk this walk. We cannot fix or change anyone. God is the one who will save them..rescue and restore them. He is also the one who will do that for me..we are all in the same boat. That makes me think about the disciples when they were in the boat at sea and a great storm came upon them. They were frightened and thought they would die.. but their Lord was with them and He calmed the sea. He appeared to be sleeping and unaware of their dilemma..but He knew and He rescued them and saved their lives..despite their fears and unbelief. He does the same for us.. we are like those disciples.. forgetting who was in that boat with them and imagining the worst.

If you are in a storm right now.. remember that you are not alone. If you think you are drowning in a sea of depression and despair.. stay close to Jesus.. rely on Him.. trust Him to come to for you.. He always does.

We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.

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.

Disappointments

I was reluctant to write on this topic..yet it is one that has been following me for about 10 years. I heard someone talk about it when I was in grad school and it stuck with me.. I could literally see the sadness and disappointment in the eyes of a fellow student. I wondered what had happened to him.. I don’t think it is such a mystery to me now.

The last 9 years have been filled with many disappointments and each time I sit down to think through what has happened.. I am filled with a sadness that I never expected to feel. Could I have been better prepared? No. Should I have anticipated these disappointing things? No. There is literally nothing I could have done differently. We live in a world filled with disappointments..yet there is not much talk about such things. We have our ways of covering them up and pretending they are not bothering us. They are losses and we have to grieve our losses.. no matter how often they occur or how hard it is to face them.

Once we face them.. the tears start and we are filled with the pain of the loss.. knowing that things will never be the same.. that dreams have died.. that life is not fair and that we are in a fallen world. There is healing in facing these things.. if we hide our feelings and put on a happy face.. we are only prolonging what inevitably needs to happen.  My heart is broken in many places, but I am not defeated.. I am grieving the losses and trusting God for His healing touch.

Are you disappointed with your life.. have  your dreams failed to come true? Are you discouraged? Don’t hide or cover up your shame and sadness.. take your grief to the Lord and let Him apply the balm of Gilead on your wounds.. He is able to restore you …  to revive you. His hand is there to cling to as He takes you through the pain and renews your hope.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm
    my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
    and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has worked wonders for you;
    never again will my people be shamed.”  ( Joel 2:25-26)

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Turning points

God is taking us forward into new things, but before He can do that He does some housecleaning. His desire is to remove all the obstacles that would keep us from experiencing the full measure of the blessings He has for us in the future. He wants us to take time to be at this crossroads or turning point as long as necessary so He can do healing and prepare us for the next season of life.

In our culture, there is no real emphasis on this process. We are basically being pressured to move ahead, move on, or just get over it. That is no the way life is. We need to stand still and let ourselves feel our true feelings, examine our hearts, and our relationships..taking time to truly look at where we have been and what has happened without rushing into the future. We may need to grieve our losses… to feel our disappointments..allowing God to comfort and strengthen us for the next leg of the journey.

So if you are at a turning point and it seems like you have no idea what is going to happen next.. you are right where you should be. In His hands. He wants to teach you to depend up on Him daily..to trust Him with your deepest emotions and desires. His plan is unfolding just as He intends, one day at a time. Rest in Him.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

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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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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”