Most people naturally shy away from pain and gravitate towards happiness.
No baby is born into this world asking for grief. What child doesn’t hope for the best and happiest life? And what little girl doesn’t long for Cinderella’s glass slippers leading her to the Prince of her future?
We watch Hallmark movies because we long for relationship.
We eat chocolate because our taste buds crave tasty.
We like hanging out with kind people because our hearts were designed to receive love.
We were created in the image of God with a high capacity for the things of God. Love, joy, and peace are meant to be central to our lives and when the opposite hits hard, we cringe.
Some fight, some take flight. Which one are you?
I have to admit that most of the time, I’m in the flight category. People who love to argue will be frustrated with me because I hate fighting and often walk away if I feel one pending. Those who love to control every detail of life might be dumbfounded that I simply don’t care about getting my way in every single thing.
I’d rather have peace than have it my way. This can be good but it can also be dangerous, and in the life I’ve had to live, I’ve learned to pick up my sword and wield it carefully when needed.
Whether you naturally attack the grief/pain in your life with anger and lashing back to fight for what you crave, or whether you run into internal oblivion too afraid to move, our negative responses to pain show that we were created for something better.
A human created in the image of God for the glory of God is of necessity born with the need to receive things that line up with the heart of God.
A baby develops better when held and snuggled lots.
By nature, women respond to love and tenderness.
Men naturally gravitate toward those who call out the manhood in them.
But the question remains: How to respond when we get the opposite of what we were created for?
I know what it’s like to put reality to the back of my mind so I could try to function in the reality I wished I had.
I know what it’s like for something so troubling to happen that the only way forward was to go into denial.
I know what it’s like to reach out for help, but feel false quilt while doing so.
See this—hitting denial mode on pain only prolongs the effects of it. Like a poisonous labyrinth, denial mode causes the branches of pain to spread. When you shut up something that exists in an effort to create something that doesn’t exist, you shoot ugly streams of poison into many areas of your life.
Many times the church is great at spiritualizing pain by calling people to “rise above it” and “find peace”. It often pushes people into denial and a false sense “happiness” which can cause unreleased emotions to surface many years later.
Christian friends, you don’t need to tack God onto every explanation of your feelings. “This is hard but God is with me” while tacking on a (fake) brave smile.
How about honestly saying, “This is so hard I don’t have energy for anything but just to make it through. Thanks for being here for me.”
And for those who use the flight mechanism, consider that staying quiet so you don’t ruin someone’s reputation can cause your own soul so much unrest that your life becomes marked with internal anxiety and depression. Please know that God cares more about your healing than He does about anyone’s reputation.
Reach out to others for help and council even if (and especially when), the one hurting you doesn’t want to be exposed. The latter fact alone should cause you to run for help. You are not meant to walk alone.
The only way to handle grief is to face it head on. Whether this is the death of a loved one or the knowledge of a cheating spouse, owning up to your painful reality will help you navigate it in the best possible way.
This will look differently for different people because there is no stream-lined way through grief and there is no certain finish line.
Say it to yourself, “My spouse cheated on me and I feel like I’m going to DIE.”
Or, “My brother passed away and I feel like I’m not going to survive unless we find his body in the lake.”
Give yourself permission to grieve. If you need to crawl into bed for the day, just get right in there and pull the covers up over your face.
If you need a movie to distract your mind, watch your favorite show for awhile.
And if chocolate comforts you, eat away at it and chuck that raw broccoli for a few days.
If you’re too tired to pray, simply know that at that very moment the Spirit Himself is praying to the Father for you. You are not forgotten by an all-knowing God simply because you have no words to utter. Know this—the throne room specializes with needs too great for you to handle.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26&27, ESV)
By allowing yourself to consume your grief, you will rise above it before it consumes you. Sooner or later God will reach down and begin to walk you toward healing. Bit by bit, if you know and love Jesus Christ, you will see the sun shine again.
“The Son of Man will rise with healing in His wings.”
The most exquisite glories of the mountain top can only be experienced if you first walk the valley of grief.
Denial mode takes you to an alternate route into a barren dessert where you function as a robot because you never embraced your humanity.
Jesus wept first, then he rose Lazarus from the dead.
Supernatural strength is most realized by those who face catastrophic dilemmas beyond their control.
Today, if you’re faced with a trial too great to handle, look up into the face of Jesus as you walk the valley of pain. Ask Jesus to go with you, and He will. Every step of the way, He will comfort your soul as you whisper to Him of your need.
Your soul is not meant to have sadness as a permanent companion. But that’s a story to write for another time—for now, embrace your pain with the end goal of being delivered from the grip of it.
In 2020, hope is still rising for every soul!
All is grace.
Love from my bone marrow into yours,