How does one get over the biggest loss that they have ever experienced?
We often ask ourselves that question after the passing of a family member or friend or after losing a job, watching a relationship dissolve or after hearing a diagnosis and being forced to learn to live differently.
I'm not sure if each of us would answer that question the same way or if it is even possible to articulate a response, so I will not attempt to strategize ways around it or dilute the impact of it- but I can say like many of you that grief is real!
You can not go around it. You must go through it.
I've come to a place in my life that I don't run from it, attempt to explain it, pretend that it doesn't exist and neither do I choose to extend it or stay parked on Grief Rd.
If we are honest, however, because of grief, we are changed and better on the other side of it.
This week I pause to remember my father, Rev. Dr. E. K. Bailey. He was and is my hero who was promoted to his heavenly home on Oct. 22, 2003.
It has not been an easy journey to live without him, but a journey nonetheless.
We all must take our seat in the seat of grief and some may wrestle with it more or longer than others, but through it all, I am a witness, that joy will come and so does the birth of a testimony of grace in and through grief.
I've considered some lessons I've learned and wanted to encourage someone today in your process of healing with my personal thank you note. Be encouraged!
I could never imagine coming to a point in life where I would want to thank you.
I thought thanking you would be the denial of the pain that you have brought, but now I see that it is not the denial of loss, but the awareness of life known differently and the
acknowledgment that it hurt but did not destroy.
I want to thank you for the tears that reminded me of love shared.
Thank you that I now know that the heart always remembers what the mind longs to forget.
I'm grateful that God understands the silent language of the heart.
Without you, Grief, I never would have known that we don't always need to have words for God to hear our prayers and that He is a master of understanding a language that is inaudible.
For the restless nights that made me pray more and seek solace in scripture and in the sweet whispers of our Heavenly Father- thank you.
For the human emotions of sadness, anger, denial, depression, acceptance and eventually joy, I'm thankful.
For showing me that I do not have to know it all or have it all together. Bless you! I'm so much better.
I have come to discover that we cannot fast forward through grief, but must give ourselves to the process.
We do not have to have a journey that looks like anyone else's path and we can give ourselves permission to know pain.
We live in a society and culture that is always rushing people through pain and into celebration. Sometimes I wonder if we should consider rushing through celebration and sitting in pain because some of life's greatest lessons are not on the mountain but in the valley.
I'm encouraged by I Peter 5:10b, "...after we suffer for a little while, we will be strengthened and settled and sustained.
My heart rejoices because I have come to experience the profundity of that favorite scripture and now I know that without suffering we cannot know what it means to be established.
Thank you Grief for taking my hand, expanding my view, broadening my perspective and sensitizing my heart to the experiences of others.
Thank you for teaching us how to live the theology that we believe.
Surely we cannot believe that if Jesus was risen from the dead that His Same Power would not be given to us at our darkest moments.
Grief, you have taught me more about living, dying to myself and the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ because I have seen that power resurrected in my heart.
It has been broken and now I see how the Lord is pumping new blood into a new heart.
You continue to teach me that there are some things that can be communicated with words and you have also taught me the importance of silence and the ministry of presence, sympathy and empathy.
Thank you for how you have made a woman out of me and you continue to grow my faith.
You have a way of bringing out the adult tendencies in us even when we want to remain children.
You have taught me how to stand on the Word of God, how to keep it moving when I wanted to give up, how to have moments of isolation and moments in community. Moments in weeping and in rejoicing. Moments in reflection and in great anticipation.
You have given birth to my most authentic self and I am grateful.
Thank you for teaching me how to swim.
I have found that people that seem the most unhappy in life are the people who never slow down and take the time to truly grieve, people who are envious of the love of those shared that are grieving or people who choose not to live after grief.
I had to write you a letter with the hopes of inspiring and encouraging others who may not see a window out of their season of grieving.
While you are a necessary part of the journey, you are not the final destination.
Our lives can not be defined only by our grief.
It must also be defined by God's glory, by our victory in Him to overcome all things and by our daily choice to keep living with hope.
Without you I would not know that good grief is possible. Neither would I know the pure bliss in the assurance that our present and future grief is already swallowed up in victory in Jesus Christ. What glory shall be revealed!
Although we often feel that God is far away in our grief, now I understand that it is in those moments that God is the closest to those that are broken hearted.
Tears are a part of our life story, but I am thankful that the day shall come when every tear will be wiped from our eyes.
I give God praise for mourning that has turned into morning.
Thank you for growing, grooming and gracing me and so many others.
I know brokenness but not despair.
I'm wounded but not left forsaken.
I'm a 'wounded warrior' with 'war scars' that remind me of battle, but but also remind me of God's sustaining power.
I did not die.
I gained new life.
I did not give up.
I gained new passion.
I didn't bow to the expectations of others to be perfect.
I've bloomed in my own humanness and that feels awesome!
I know Christ more through suffering.
I know joy because I have known grief.
Just as caterpillars can not rush the stage of the cacoon, we can not rush grief, but we can be certain that dark places and tight spaces are playing a part in each of us discovering our wings.
I smile today because of a heart dancing with appreciation for the transformation that God has made in my life.
Thank you Grief, thank you Lord,
I'm. Still. Standing!
Dear Lord, thank you for good grief.
Refresh the hearts of your children who are discouraged, depressed, displaced, depleted or distracted by grief. Help us to give ourselves to the process and thank you for being in the middle of every season of life with us and granting your presence, your peace and complete healing.
You are our hope and eternal reward. Make us faithful even in times of loss.
Thank you for life after grief and for turning ashes into beauty.
In Jesus name, amen.
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