They say the best way to inspire others is by being transparent and vulnerable. I tried that in Christian community and well…my perspective is as follows. When you are still healing, it may be best to share with a safe community of people. Once you are healed, the story can be shared with others. Why do I say this? Because humans do not always think about the impact of their words before they speak. Some can be in a place of desiring to be helpful and they are actually quite harmful.
I love safe people, don’t you?
I met with a dear friend yesterday for lunch, a mini trip to the spa, and took her on a local tour. One of the things I love about her is her ability to listen without trying to throw a scripture on everything.
She has suffered great loss; I have suffered great loss, and we both know the unintended un-helpfulness of sometimes well meaning people. They say, “You are so strong!” Or “You just need to trust God.” “You know God is working all things together for good.”
I sat across the table from a kindred spirit. Someone who understood grief deeply and did not see it as something to wish away, but something to walk through with God. Some days are incredible and there is great joy. Some days you do not desire to laugh, your heart is full of tears. Some days agony crashes upon you like a tidal wave and you pray earnest prayers for relief.
People around you wish for you to be better. Some will avoid you because they do not know what to say or they don’t want to be in the presence of a person overcoming grief or loss. It is rare to find the ones willing to simply sit on the boat with you, riding out the storm.
Why do we grieve?
We grieve because we have lost someone or something we loved. Love is the reason for the grief. Those who do not love deeply and do not attach, they do not understand grief. Those who have not lost someone they loved, are sometimes clueless how to respond to a hurting person.
God knows how to deal with grief. I also highly, highly recommend grief share and support groups for those hurting; groups where others have gone through loss or are going through loss. Having a community of people who get it is absolutely vital to not only surviving, thriving. I am so thankful for safe people.
Grief has taught me so many things and it has changed me profoundly. Have you gone through a painful experience that changed you?
I am not the same person I was a year ago. I stopped doing things that seemed like a waste of time. I am still refining my priorities.
I stopped caring what people on the internet were replying to my content. I started simply deleting negative and misguided comments instead of wasting time trying to explain myself.
I stopped trying to mentor people who were disengaged, not present, not putting forth effort, and not interested in pulling their weight. I have enough to carry. I do not need dead weight nor to exert so much effort into what is not valued or appreciated.
I stopped worrying about those “friends” who just disappeared. I moved on with my life.
I stopped trying to love people who kept rejecting or misunderstanding love or it was always one sided.
Grief taught me and is teaching me to stop wasting my life on things that don’t matter.
Grief taught me and is teaching me to take one day at a time and some days it is one moment at a time.
Grief has taught me and is teaching me to stop expecting people to get it and be compassionate. I must have compassion for myself. Self care is vital. Expecting people to see a need and respond is futile. I found safe people to ask for help.
Grief has taught me and is teaching me to rest more and stop pushing myself to be strong for others. I am human, not Jesus. I started cancelling volunteer events with no support. I stopped pushing myself to be the only person to show up.
Grief has taught me and is teaching me what matters and what does not matter. It has recalibrated my focus so things I used to do, I refuse to carry with me. I believe grief can be a powerful tool to shift our focus. What about you?
Grief has taught me and is teaching me who my real friends are. It has been eye opening the past 12 months. I am not angry nor offended by people, I simply have relationships that grew closer and some that disappeared.
Grief has taught me and is teaching me the importance of saying no. When people perceive you as strong, they forget you are a human with legitimate needs. So they come with their needs, their wants, their desires, and expect you to be strong for them and you. Well, no. I have said to a few people, “I would like for you to contact someone else.”
Grief has taught me and is teaching me an even greater importance of family. Friends can come and go, but family is so important.
Grief has taught me and is teaching me not to judge my life by the lives of others. “Oh they never have anything bad happen to them, what am I doing wrong?” I have learned grief touches everyone at some point in life. If it is not your neighbors turn now, it will be one day. None of us make it out of life alive or without any challenges.
I have learned I do not have to be strong, just because that is what others desire. I learned there are days I crumble into the arms of God exhausted from grief and I am the furthest thing from strong. I find comfort in being able to just be human. I look at this man named Jesus who was and is perfect in every way. He cried out to the Father in agony, “Why have you forsaken me?” Pain has a way of making the Father seem so far away.
I understand how Jesus felt. I understand how Mother Teresa felt when she wrote in her diary that she felt forsaken by God at moments in her life. It may seem blasphemous to some, yet I see no blasphemy in Jesus. He knew agony, grief, suffering, and His friends went to sleep. He knew betrayal by one of the ones He trained and loved. My encouragement is it’s okay to be human. We were not created to live in such hard place. We were created for paradise and sin brought and brings hell.
Grief has taught me and is teaching me the closeness of God even when He does not say a thing. He speaks in ways that sometimes are not heard, but they mark us. I laugh sometimes because as silly as it sounds, I think God is filling up my Pinterest feed. It’s one encouraging picture after another.
I want to encourage you, those who have suffered loss. I am sorry for the silly and lack of empathy/lack of compassion things people say. I am sorry if you feel you must always be the one towing the superhero line. God does not expect us to pretend loss does not hurt, nor to put on the fake Christian mask, “God is working all things for good! Rejoice in the Lord always.” Let’s be real. Let’s be honest. Some days there may be a song in your heart. Some days there may be tears streaming down your face. Be human. You have permission to be human and invite God into your humanity.
I personally don’t have time for pretend. There are several things in my life/family that require a miracle. I am real, raw, and do not care how others feel about the process.
God is with us on our best day.
God is with us on our worst day.
God with us is how we make it through the turbulent storms without drowning.
Let’s be real, honest, and inspire others to do so as well!
You are prayed for and so deeply loved!
“He comforts those who mourn and binds up the broken hearted.“