Archive | January 2014

scripture friday.

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He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:12

courage.

Whatever you’re going through, face the future with courage.

Stand strong. Stand tall. Be brave.

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Creation inspires us to be courageous.

The tide comes in and goes out. The rhythm is constant and reliable.

Take a deep breath and do the next thing.

~~~

Photo credit:  paul bica / Foter / CC BY

christians and grieving.

The American culture is particularly focused on productivity, quick fixes, and formulas.

None of the above applies to someone who is grieving the loss of a child.

Even many church cultures are influenced by the American culture. The Bible is full of pro-active mandates and it fits nicely with the culture’s mantras.

As Christians, we have to reign ourselves in. I know I practice this in my own life. What I do, think, and say must be God’s heart.

Instead, I often see this scenario: people who are “victims” are encouraged to rise above it, press on, and fight the good fight. It’s like telling someone who just got a leg mangled in a car accident to walk.

Grieving people have mangled hearts.

And because we are an impatient culture, there are few who are willing to be patient with grief. What I mean by that is not being there 24/7 for someone who is grieving, but to keep in mind God’s heart: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit … in humility value others above yourselves … (Philippians 2:3)

This means the person who is grieving is not going to be who he or she was before the grief. Just like the person with the mangled leg will have scars or a limp for the rest of his life. If your theology is only to “press on” with faith, you will have expectations for people which are unrealistic.

Personally, I’ve been gossiped about and expected to rise above my loss. I know first hand the push of productivity, quick fixes, and formulas. Forgiveness is not a problem. But being exposed to it is.

Further reading here.

If you are grieving and have felt the angst of an environment of producing, quick fixes, and formulas being applied to you, next Monday’s post is for you. As I’ve listened to the stories of Christians who are grieving, I’ve found many broken-hearts; disillusioned with their experience. My hope is to help rescue you from becoming bitter or turning away from God altogether.

death is an enemy.

That’s what the Bible says. And it’s true. There is nothing good about death.

The distress it brings is heart-wrenching sorrow.

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We have to live for something bigger than ourselves. What good is it if you live life, only to find out there is nothing at the end?

God wired us to believe. We have the choice whether we will or not. And beyond believing, is living with a view of eternity. It makes all the difference because we will always have hope. If we think there isn’t anything at the end, how miserable we will be.

What are you living for?

What is your hope at the end of your life?

Are you ready to meet God?

~~~

Photo credit: Davi Ozolin / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

reprieve.

Every winter in Upstate NY, we experience the “January Thaw”. I’m sure it’s not exclusive to where I live, but nevertheless, we look forward to it. The temperature rises to the mid to high 40’s and the snow and ice melts. It’s as if winter pauses briefly for a week before the next blast of cold and snow.

If there is a break in winter’s rhythm, there is a break for you, too.

Sometimes, we can be so overwhelmed with our present circumstances that we may not be aware of the joy that is often mingled with our sorrow.

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Have you ever been crying and then found yourself laughing at something? Those are moments that come upon us when we weren’t expecting it.

We aren’t always expecting a reprieve – relief that lasts longer than a moment. It’s a break from the constant pressure of whatever burdens you.

I think we should look for it. Just like the January Thaw.

God isn’t going to forget you.

~~~

Photo credit: Βethan / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

beautiful strength.

Jan11

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You can’t fix grief.

A paper cut will heal quickly.

A gun shot wound requires more time.

Sometimes the bullet cannot be removed.

People live with bullets inside of them.

People live with broken hearts.

This isn’t hopelessness.

It is acceptance of what is.

Once accepted,  you carry grief with  strength…

beautiful strength.

~~~

Photo Courtesy:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mait/5184718154/

losing a child.

Dec18

Like a wave, the crest of heightened emotion will fall to find a path as it crashes upon the shore of a new day … a new week … a new year.

Life will demand and routine will resume.

The fathers and mothers of the Sandy Hook school shootings will feel helpless. They will tread water as raw grief pierces deeper and the numbness wears off.

Everyone leaves and the temporary buoyancy of strength leaves, too.

You cannot leave them. Not yet.

There is a gaping wound in their heart. And life is pulsating out of it with every breath.

Place your hand of quiet presence upon their heart until it beats on its own.

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The silence is deafening. Weeping openly was allowed.

Life must go on we tell them.

But life is on hold for them.

Let them. Please let them.

There are no words to comfort. All they want is their child back.

Time. They need lots of time.

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Time to learn how to live again.

Some will not want to live again.

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But they will.

~~~~

Photo Courtesy:

MrClean1982 / Foter / CC BY-NC

macropoulos / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Vicki’s Nature / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

grief is work.

May23

Grief is work.

The reason it’s work is because your life changes course. New emotions you are not accustomed to will rudely interrupt your life. Your life will slow down and what you want is to keep going the way you were – and you can’t. You finally face the fact: you have to slow down and reassess.

Common symptoms of grief

While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal – including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.

  • Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
  • Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
  • Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
  • Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
  • Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
  • Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

Source:  http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm

Be patient with yourself. Even if others are not.

coming to terms with grief.

The Key to Resolving Grief by Dr. Lani Leary

The key to resolving grief is the feeling of acceptance that comes through validation. To resolve means to settle, to work out, or to find meaning. It does not mean to erase, or to end. Grief does not end, but grief is transformed. Grief can soften. It can be accepted. It can take on another shape, rather than taking over a person’s life. One can carry grief differently after working through grief and finding resolution. But grief does not end.

The great healer of our grief is validation, not time. All grief needs to be blessed. In order to be blessed, it must be heard. Someone must be present, someone who is willing to “hold” it by listening without judgment or comparison.

Those who grieve need both verbal and non-verbal permission to feel whatever feelings arise during grief. Their personal way of experiencing their loss should be given consent and validation. The ways they “know” their grief should be honored. Mourners need to be encouraged to express their grief in ways that are most comfortable for them, through words, tears, song, art, movement, or activity.

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While grieving, those in pain need a sense of a compassionate presence. That is a person who provides a healthy relationship and companions them. It is the person who can “just be” with them in whatever way is helpful throughout the journey. There may be several people who support with their ability to be present, and each may offer different aspects that are needed. The bereaved need:

  1. To be cared for with your presence, permission, patience, predictability, and perseverance.
  2. To have their feelings acknowledged and their loved one remembered.
  3. To have their feelings and needs normalized.
  4. To be heard.
  5. To be seen and acknowledged.

~~~

Photo courtesy: Jeff Kubina / Foter / CC BY-SA