As a result of some recent events, I have found myself reflecting on grief and trusting Christ even in the midst of the grief. This grief that I am talking about is not the loss of someone dear, or the tragic or traumatic experiences one has during their life, or anything that is truly life-altering in a sudden way. The grief I am speaking of is the quieter, more stealthy kind, the kind that sneaks in when you realize a relationship or dream has slipped away or you have a diagnosis that is different than you’d prefer but was expected. The way you grieve when you realize that life goes on, people change, kids grow up, and life doesn’t look the way you planned.
I recently found myself with tears slipping down my face after finally processing information I was given and crying made me feel guilty. My inner dialogue consisted of me telling myself I shouldn’t be crying or upset because God has a plan. I realized I was being severe on myself, I know God has a plan, but do I really believe what I am telling myself is true? Or am I telling myself a partial truth to try to keep myself from truly feeling something that is painful by being cowardly instead?
As I sat there looking in the mirror, that still, small voice inside of me gently reminded me, “We are allowed to grieve. Even Jesus wept. Jesus wept and He knew what was going to come next was a miracle that would heal the grief. But still, He wept.”
I believe God does have a plan for us, no matter what happens. I believe we should not be controlled by emotions. But I also believe that we should still allow ourselves to feel the emotions so we can process them and give them to God, instead of shoving them down inside ourselves to try to forget them. We need to name the unnamed feelings so they don’t just stay inside us, causing anxiety and stress.
I believe Jesus called me to cry and release the emotions because He brought a song into my head that released the tears. For me, the sooner I can face the emotion, the sooner I can get back to fully worshiping God with my whole heart, instead of hiding the part of me that hurts. He doesn’t want me to feel like I need to hold back from Him. He knows me better than I know myself, so who better to process my grief with than Him?
Once I allow myself to feel the hurt and start processing emotions, I can better see the “manna” He brings into my life that shows me He is still there in the midst of it. One wonderful way to find joy in the middle of a hard time is to find the good things in life and list them out so you remember them.
On my phone, I keep a note pinned to the top of my Google Keep that is labeled “Seen, Known, and Loved”. After my morning meltdown that day, I went to work and was greeted with a late Christmas present to show appreciation for the work I do at the church. I put that on my list.
That afternoon, after several weeks of conflicting schedules, the pastor and I went to a coffee shop in town and I got paid to drink tea and chat for an hour – and I didn’t have to pay for the tea so basically it was like a triple win.
I was blessed with being able to have a conversation with one of my closest friends and even though she mostly just listened, being able to verbally process my thoughts and feelings helped me work through, affirm, and validate some of my feelings and viewpoints. Being able to “take a load off” was wonderfully helpful and freeing.
I got home and was greeted by my sweet dog who a year ago I would have never thought I would have in my house, but now the house feels empty without her (and even more surprising, Andrew agrees the house feels empty without her).
I had leftovers from one of my favorite restaurants to look forward to eating (hello, steak hibachi) after I jumped on packaging bubbles that were in a box I had recently opened. I needed to let go of being a grown-up for a little bit, so I did. And I felt much better.
Suddenly I have a list of positive things about life to help me recenter my gaze on Christ, stay hopeful, and find joy amidst the trials.
Is Grieving Allowed?
I firmly believe we should allow ourselves a certain amount of time to process this kind of grief. In the Bible, they wore certain clothes and mourned for a certain amount of time (sometimes seven, other times thirty days) but nowadays we seem to see it as a weakness to grieve. Feeling feelings is not a weakness, I believe perhaps we should look at it as a strength instead.
I am strong enough through Christ to face what is hurting me so I can learn from this season, trial, or emotion and become closer with Jesus instead of running away from the pain.
Remember, this grief that I am speaking of is more the the aching kind that we tend to ignore because some people may see it as silly or say we are being sensitive. Our grieving shouldn’t be for an outward show, but for an inward renewal.
Allow yourself a couple of days to be quiet and reflective, or to talk your closest friend’s ears off about what is hurting you, but after a couple of days, if you still find yourself unable to give it to Jesus, try to find a way to refocus on Him. Try reading the Psalms and praying them or find some worship music that speaks to your soul. Write it out, pray it out, if you need to, you can even physically get it out somehow, but take care to focus everything you do on giving it to God. He can carry what you can’t even begin to lift.
We are still allowed to grieve these things, perhaps they are things others think are silly yet still cause you to ache. If it hurts you, it needs worked through. We cannot let the unnamed own us. By naming and feeling things, we can work through them. We have Jesus to help us and He can heal us the way we need to be healed. He can heal us and fill that hole, that gap that was created by whatever we are grieving, and we can be healed and whole again.
I’m praying this over myself today and the days going forward, and I pray it for you, too. May you name whatever you are grieving so you can give it to the One Who Sees and Knows You.
Father, I know You are the One Who Sees. You see even the depths of me I cannot understand. You know why I am the way I am, and You love me despite my flaws. Nothing I do can change Your love for me, You will let me dwell in the safety of You because I put my trust in You. You know why I grieve, but you also know the reason I have this grief in my life. I know you have a plan for me, and this is a part of who You are making me. Help me trust You even when it’s hard, help me feel Your peace even when I am restless, help me find joy even in despair, and help me know Your love like never before.
In Jesus’ name.
Genesis 16:13; Psalm 139:4; Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 4:8; Jeremiah 29:11