No one quite has the language to tell you how grief will play out for you individually. I mean, yes, there are the key stages:
- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance
But I’m almost positive it’s not a linear journey.
Because in the first days after my father died, I’m pretty sure I went through all 5 stages out of order, and then decided to repeat them all just a month later.
Things feel dry, sometimes, not completely breathable.
And then, things feel good—dare I say…normal in some sort of way, and then….and then comes Christmas commercials showing a military mother or father walkingthrough their home door, to surprise the kids and spouse on Christmas day.
OVER AND OUT.
Or you find your dad’s old Bible.
Or old notes he wrote.
And then you want to feel sad.
But you also want to embrace the moment of the now with the loved ones still near and close by.
But there’s tension. And I just want to punch walls and L.A. drivers in the neck….
But I know anger is not the real issue.
Anger is the symptom of something greater.
Because somehow anger still gives you a false illusion of control. False being the key word here.
Often it’s our pride that trips us up in the middle of our grief. Either we are too afraid to cry, too afraid to feel, too afraid to….anything else but deal.
And the only 2 ways I know to combat anger is prayer and gratitude…even if I’m grumbling.
And so I pause.
And I simply ask, “Holy Spirit, what’s really going on with me? What’s at the root of my current behavior? I’m open for you to show me…”
And it’s usually shown to me, throughout the course of the day, through the interactions I have with real live, flesh and blood people.
And later on in the day, I think, “Wow, how blessed am I…”
To feel and to taste pain, defeat, and loss, is a part of our human journey, and it’s part of a larger story the Lord redeems in ways so extravagant that we cannot even imagine the fullness of those possibilities in the here and now.
I know this season can be tender for so many of us.
But in the midst of the icy cold night, I want you to do something for me. I want you to go outside, and I want you to look up.
I want you to physically tilt your head up and leave it tilted up for at least 15 seconds. Until you can count at least 10 stars above your head.
And in that uncomfortably frigid air, take a beat to thank God that you can witness such a brazen miracle.
The past and present being witnessed by the phenomenon that is your vision.
As you know, a star, by the means in which we see them, is gone and perhaps often dead in the way that it existed thousands upon thousands of years ago, while its light still somehow travels to your sky and to your eyes in a very present moment.
And yes, it’s still cold outside.
But my goodness, the stars sure do shine so brightly.
As if on cue, to remind us…
Yes, there may be a wilderness around us, but we are not left alone to our own devices.
And if I remember correctly, after the wilderness does come the promised land.
So keep looking up sweet children, keep looking up…
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”