Are you Grieving? {Advent: December 18}

  
My grandmother passed away this week. I’m grieving a great loss. In my faith tradition, I believe that she is in heaven with no more pain and no more suffering. I keep saying to my friends, “I know that she is completely healed, I know that she isn’t in pain anymore, I know that she is home.”

I know I know I know I knoooow.

But my heart still hurts. I’m still in so much pain. In the middle of a season with lots of joy and celebration, I’m hurting very badly. Every time I hear a Christmas song on the radio, I turn it off. I’m numb to all the excitement of the season. I love looking at Christmas lights. I’m comforted seeing light in the midst of great darkness. Where is my Meme? Why can’t she come back? I’m grieving.

Are you grieving this season? Maybe someone in your life has left this earth, maybe you’re in a difficult relationship with someone, or maybe you don’t see the point in all the excitement. I’m right there with you. Below are a few things that are helping me during this time. Maybe they can help you too.

1. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself cry, scream, shout. Whatever you need to do – as long as you don’t hurt yourself or someone else – let yourself go. Now is not the time to hold back any emotion.

2. Ask for help. I know, this is the part where people could just offer something instead of waiting for you to ask for it, but we all know that doesn’t always happen. The fact is that people don’t know how to help. They don’t know what you need. A lot of people just aren’t good at anticipating the needs of their friends. Being aware of this, you have to ask for help. Now isn’t the time to be codependent and think that you’re bothering someone by asking for help.

3. Be patient with yourself and with your other loved ones who are also grieving. It’s gonna take some time for the pain to subside. Lots of time. You’re gonna feel awful and awkward for a while.

4. Lean into the pain. Sounds weird, but it works. Let yourself feel awful and awkward. Don’t try to ignore the pain or pretend it isn’t there, because that will only make it worse. If you let yourself feel the pain now, you lessen the risk of dragging out the grieving process beyond the healthy point. What’s the healthy point? Only you can decide that. The point here is that you allow yourself to feel the painful emotions. Just make sure that you’re in a safe place and that you don’t hurt yourself or other people in the process.

5. The little things can be triggers for tears. Slow, sappy music in the nail salon, a TV show, a specific restaurant, and certain smells are among the small things that may trigger tears. You don’t have to run away from these triggers, but if you can go ahead and be aware that these bring on tears, you can avoid them or buffer yourself from their effect on you.

6. You’re not alone in your pain, so don’t isolate yourself. Everyone on this planet knows what it’s like to lose someone. You’re not the only one who has felt this pain. I’m not saying this to be rude. I’m saying this because you will be tempted to become isolated, and that is a dangerous place to be in. There are people in your life who know the pain that you feel.

7. Eat your feelings and do what comforts you. You heard me. Jillian Michaels may not be so happy about this one, but this is not the time to think about staying on track with some diet. If you’re craving carbs, pasta, sweet treats, or savory snacks, eat it! Now, you don’t have to become a glutton and you probably don’t want to make yourself sick, but let yourself enjoy the foods that comfort you. If it isn’t food that comforts you, think of something else that comforts you and go do it. Get a pedicure, a massage, go workout, sleep in, watch a movie, etc.

8. Don’t let it hurt you or surprise you if someone grieves differently than you. People grieve differently and experience a wide range of emotions at varying times. If someone isn’t crying at the same time that you’re crying, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care. There will come some moments that the other person is crying and you’re not. That’s okay.

9. When you think about funny things and start to laugh, don’t push away the laughter. You might feel like it’s an inappropriate time to laugh, but it’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to laugh, to cry, to be angry, to feel whatever emotion that you feel.

10. Find ways to talk it out. I know, talking is probably the last thing you want to do. If you don’t feel like talking, don’t. However, if you do feel like it, find avenues to talk about your loved one. Share some memories on your blog or call and talk to a friend. Don’t think you have to keep it all to yourself or hold it in.

I hope these will help you as they have helped me. May the Lord comfort you during this time, and may you find comfort among friends and family.

Broken {Advent: December 1}

 

Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

What’s broken in your life? Take an inventory of your life at this moment. Make a list of everything that needs healing and leave space between each item. For each item on your list, write down questions you’d like to ask God or things you’d like to voice to God about the healing process for that item. When you write these, be honest about how you feel. Don’t try to sweep negative feelings under the rug for the sake of wanting to be holy. God already sees you as holy because of Christ’s sacrifice for you, so you can’t do anything to add to it. You certainly don’t get any holier by lying to God about how you feel.

During one of my classes in seminary, our professor talked about the suffering that he and his family experienced while serving on the mission field. He asked God why he had to experience such suffering, and he explained to us that he had negative emotions and doubts. As soon as he finished expressing such vulnerability, a student boldly raised his hand and asked, “Well, you’re a seminary professor. Shouldn’t you have known better?” Oh help me. There are some things you don’t want to cross, and a mad Southern woman is one of them. Our professor kinda nodded like the guy had a point, but I couldn’t helped myself. Before I knew it, my hand darted up in the air and words started coming out of my mouth. “Are you serious? Are you seriously saying that right now? Do you honestly think that God appreciates your surface-level “reverence” when such reverence is really just a lie to coverup how you really feel towards God? You can’t hide anything from God, so you might as well be honest about how you feel.” Okay, I didn’t say it that harsh, but that is the essence of what I communicated.

The truth is that God cares about how we feel. While our emotions do not dictate his responses, our honest expression of every emotion reveals a genuine relationship with him. The oldest book of the Bible shows this type of relationship with the Father. If God is big enough to create the universe, is he not big enough to handle your darkest emotions? The answer is that he is big enough to handle your darkest emotions, and you’re relationship with God will only grow stronger as you trust him to handle such darkness. God’s response to your cries might be similar to his response to Job, but at least you won’t be feigning holiness by hiding what’s already in your heart.

So, again I ask you. What is broken in your life?