If you’re human, and I suspect most of you are, you have had at least one rough day this month, and the month isn’t even over yet. Some of you have had a rough year, and if that’s you, this post is for you. Today is the day that we figure out what’s at the core of that rough year, peel back those battered layers, and trash them — giving way to the good that’s left behind but has been overshadowed by what’s at the core.
The issue I see most often that stops most of us in our tracks is loss — loss of a family member, one’s livelihood, your health, your home, or your marriage. Because of the devastation associated with losing someone or something so important, you lose sight of your blessings. Your grief consumes you, and it is all you ever think about and talk about. It even takes a toll on those you encounter daily. They, too, will find themselves in a similar funk if they’re not careful.
You can’t lead someone where you have not gone. ~John Maxwell
I’ve had my share of loss over the past two decades: aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and dear friends. Taking time to grieve each loss is essential to your emotional well-being. Without a conscious dedication to unearthing the core issue, you will never fully deal with the emotions and behaviors that result from the loss.
When my cousin Stephen died from AIDS in 1994, I was devastated. I was angry, confused, sad, and depressed for a time. I was angry because I could tell from watching him slowly wither away that his time was short, and the gossips were talking about him. They were dying too; they just didn’t know it. I was confused because I thought the medicines he had been taking could preserve his life. I was sad because my best friend was gone. We were more like siblings — only five years apart, and we were raised in the same house. I was depressed because he was asleep in death, and I wasn’t sure that he had made his peace with God before he succumbed to that dreadful disease.
I responded poorly. I cut everyone off. I moved to another state, didn’t call home anymore, didn’t visit anymore, changed my phone number, stopped going to church, and started going out a lot. All I did was work and wait for the weekend so I could go out. I was really a homebody, but I just needed to get out in a place where no one knew my story. It was my way of forgetting my story for a few hours. Thankfully, I knew the Lord back then, but I didn’t know him well, and that’s when he really started using me — revealing things in dreams and telling me how to pick up the pieces. I went back to church, but that didn’t pull me from the depths. I had to figure out what was at the core before I could come out of that pit.
The Heart of the Matter
- This was the first significant loss in my life.
- My routine, visits home, and holiday plans would change
- Our family dynamic would change drastically; we would miss him terribly.
- It seemed unfair. He was only 30 years old.
- Though he had served his purpose, we would never see him do all those great things we expected him to do.
Those issues were at the core. Once I was able to identify what was causing me such distress, I was then able to put each core issue into one category — Things I Can’t Control. Ultimately, God is in control and has numbered our days before we were even conceived. He knew that Stephen’s passing would leave a void in our lives, but he allowed us to focus on so many wonderful memories. His laugh, his sense of style, his love of cooking, his love of music, and his ability to draw anything were things that stood out. As a family, we could now focus on the joys associated with his life. My aunts and uncles told stories of his childhood (before I was born) over and over again. We laughed each time they retold those stories as if it had been told for the first time.
I helped his mother sort through his clothes and other possessions. We gave most of his things away but kept a few items for ourselves. I didn’t find any of his drawings. I wanted one from his teenage years — a caricature of our little cousin Allie Cat. Maybe one day I’ll find it. I listened to his albums — singing “My world is empty without you babe” and whistling the theme song from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly — smiling all the while and crying a little too. I wanted to pull those old speakers onto the porch like he did most weekends and blast “Bedrock” or “Push the Button” in his memory, but it was too soon for that.
Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5
A couple months later, we lost my grandmother and my uncle. Again, we grieved, but we focused on what they brought to our lives while they were here. In order to insure our survival after these devastating losses (and there were more right after that), God changed our mindset — allowing us to focus on our blessings rather than our losses. There is no straight path between a devastating loss and emotional healing. The route is circuitous, but there’s hope along the way. Each day doesn’t have to be shrouded in darkness, but it’s ok if a few of them are. You’re human; we established that in the first sentence of this post, so you’re allowed to fall apart. Cry, scream, roll around on the floor if you want to, but get back up, dry your tears, and pray to God to continue to reveal the blessings in your life. If he doesn’t do anything more for you, he’s done enough.
May blessings abound! <3
Another powerful post life can be tough very tough and sometimescit all happens at once. But the Divine is there to guides if we hold his hand.
Touching powerful post and so glad i read it it touched me and inspired me. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much for your continued encouragement. I share these messages of hope as the Spirit tells me to do so. I probably wouldn’t disclose so much otherwise.
This was a great post, Michelle. Grief is subjective and everyone has to learn. Both of my grandfathers are dying right now. I don’t know how much time I have with either of them, but it worries me as to how hard it may be to handle.
You’re right, Matthew. If we can learn to just live in the moment and savor the time we have left, we’ll feel a wee bit better once their suffering is over. Watching our beloved family and friends struggle to stay here is hard to watch. I remember telling my aunt that it was ok to go — as if I had the power to keep her here. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Just try to focus on the joy they have both brought to you over the years. I bet your parents have wonderful stories of how excited they were to meet you for the first time. <3
Incredibly hard to watch. I wonder what kind of quality of life it really is to live with constant pain knowing that this is how you’re going to pass. It brings things into perspective. They certainly do!
I’m sorry to hear of your many losses. Praise God that He helped you see with His perspective and can now use your story to encourage others. Thank you. 🙂
Glad to be in touch again…I’m following now. I look forward to reading your posts again.
I saw that! I appreciate it. It’s been a few months of re-organizing/prioritizing for me. Reading and commenting is becoming a higher priority for me. 🙂
I had to learn that that’s what blogging really is –reading, commenting, and just engaging.
Exactly! It’s a give take relationship. 🙂
I am currently finding such comfort in these words from Isaiah chp 61, one of the many prophesies about Jesus: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…
… to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
– Such beautiful words from such a beautiful Saviour, he has indeed done more than enough! 🙂
That is such a poetic promise of our good Father. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll have to study it further. <3
It is good to be reminded of all our promises in Him. We certainly need them in the pain filled seasons of life.
Prayers for peace your way <3
Thanks for the prayers, Kristin. I think I do have peace in those areas now, but I felt as if someone else needed to read those words.
Love the Maxwell quote. Thanks for sharing yet another inspiring post Michelle!