Everything was normal today until it wasn’t. I woke up at 3:00, headed downstairs, plugged my phone to charge, and pressed the start button on the coffee pot.I love the aroma of coffee as it fills the air with liquid sunshine. I spent some time in prayer and a little time reading from the books of Numbers, Psalms, and Luke for Day 74 of the Bible in a Year Challenge.
Everything was fine today until it wasn’t. I ate breakfast, found a pair of hot pink pants to wear, showered, dressed, and headed out the door. Just last week I had started hearing the familiar dawn chorus from actual birds as I would leave my driveway each morning. Today was different. Now that the time has changed, it’s dark, and the birds have no reason to sing. In the absence of their playful melody, I walked quickly to my car and drove in silence — no music to accompany my fleeting thoughts of anger, sadness, and anxiousness. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way, but I realize now that the ominous cloud that seemed far away a few days ago had actually descended when I wasn’t looking, when I was mired in work, when I was distracted. It’s been looming slightly above the crown of my head, attempting to block all rays of hope. The dark cloud brought along an equally dark companion to cloak me in the heaviest of apparel — shrouding me in this invisible weight that I couldn’t shake for days–feet dragging beneath me, tears welling for no apparent reason, sighs that offered no relief, and a strong desire to scream without anyone hearing me.
My inner monologue raced through the pathways of my mind as I tried to decelerate on the beltway. What’s going on, Lord? Is this the end? If it is, I didn’t envision it this way? Speak to me! I can’t hear you! Lord, please take this cup from me. What’s really going on? I’m ok. I’m fine. Everything is fine.
Everything was ok until it wasn’t. I made it to work safely and on time. I sat for a moment and offered a short request to the Holy Spirit to intercede for me ASAP. Imagine my haughtiness in that moment as I demanded action from the one whose power raised Jesus from the dead. I didn’t really know what to pray for in that moment, but I knew who to pray to. I took a deep, cleansing breath and entered through the side door to my happy place — a place where I feel safe, a place where I can laugh, a place where I feel loved. As I walked in wearing the mask, I knew I couldn’t don it for long. By 8:15, I had already uttered an expletive. Yikes! Of all the wholesome words I know, I certainly chose poorly today, but I can do better.
I’m so blessed and grateful that my family members at work know when I’m not quite myself. They’re supportive, and they never pry, but I know that they’ll stop what they’re doing to lend an ear or share the load. Today, the load was too heavy and my plate was full. I slipped into Lou’s office to briefly share the load. He listened intently and allowed me to lean on him. We’re rarely serious in this camp, so this moment was short-lived. He left me with some great advice laced in comedic timing to make me smile again.
“Sometimes when your plate is full, you have to give some to the dog. Let me be your dog.” ~Louis Anoff, Assistant Principal & Part-Time Comedian
He was so sincere, and then he barked, and then I laughed, and then we both laughed out loud. In an instant, I knew that the Holy Spirit took my urgent request and interceded on my behalf to God the Father as only the Spirit can (Romans 8:26-28). I learned a few things in that moment. First and foremost, we must grieve. We can’t put our feelings in a box on the top shelf in a closet and leave it there until we’re ready to deal with them. If we do, “the box” will somehow tumble from that top shelf, and its contents will spill out and infect every area of our lives. Second, it’s important to reach out to those who can help you through the process as there is no timetable for grieving. Third, if someone is telling you to be strong, this person is delusional. This is foolish advice. It suggests that you haven’t been strong! It also suggests that you shouldn’t cry, shouldn’t hurt, shouldn’t care about your own feelings — just look out for everyone else and continue to wear the mask. Here’s a little advice from me to you, and I encourage you to share it with anyone who is grieving.
- Grieve! You must go through it. There’s no way around it. God will wipe away every tear from your eyes (Revelation 21:4).
- Seek wise counsel. In addition to Lou, I reached out to my bible study friends online and asked them to pray for me, and they did it immediately. God will meet us wherever we are — even online (Matthew 18:20).
- Help yourself. Pray for God’s comfort for you and for others who mourn (Matthew 5:4).
- Help others by reaching out to them (i.e. a handwritten note, an e-mail, and inbox message, a phone call). Let them know that God heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3)
- Plan to continually move forward. Know that God is always at work (Romans 8:28).
If you take nothing else from this post, at least look at the graphic and share it with others. We often times want to control every aspect of our lives, including our grieving process, but this is one thing that’s unpredictable and out of our control. Some days you are strong and courageous; other days you’re a ball of emotions heaped on the floor in the fetal position. No matter where you are on the continuum of the healing process, know that sunshine will one day replace the darkness. The dark cloud will eventually blow away. Your storm will soon be over, but you have to keep moving forward. Praise God for his unfailing love, his bounty, and his ability to give us exactly what we need each day. Today I am especially grateful that he woke me up this morning and prompted me to share this message of hope with all of you. May blessings abound! <3