How to embrace grief and survive
“You need to grieve.”
Those were God’s final words of encouragement, as our house burned, in calling my wife and me to more. Of all that He had to say to us, this is the word we would not have thought of ourselves; nor would we have imagined the impact it would have on our journey.
Once it was safe, my wife and I went to the house and assessed the damage. It is amazing what high-temperature smoke can do to treasured items. So, we held each other and cried.
Most think of grieving in relation to the death of a loved one—a process we must go through to “get on with our lives.” In our tragedy, my wife and I learned that grieving is a grace of God for more.
Responding to God's call for more requires leaving something behind: security, long held beliefs, even people and places we grew to love. It always necessitates a dying to ourselves.
This requires grieving.
Grieving is not something most people readily embrace because we associate it with negative events. I am encouraging you to see grieving as the grace God has provided for all His children. Knowing our weaknesses, He has given us grief that we might more easily and productively walk through the necessary transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Consider these benefits of grieving:
1. It prepares you to let go—making the first step possible. Saying goodbye is a liberating and empowering experience. Even when you don’t know what you are leaving, offering up your “whatever” to God releases His grace for the journey.
2. It allows you to keep your face turned in the right direction. God designed us to face toward the direction our feet are taking us; so that we avoid tripping over obstacles and running into others. Those who keep looking back have a tough time finding God’s path.
3. It makes future grieving easier, as God calls you to let go of more. Transformation is a process. Dying to ourselves, that God might be our all-in-all, is not a one-time event (and this is God's mercy). As God proves himself faithful as we let go, we then grow to trust Him for more. In other words, our faith grows as we transform.
Perhaps the most important thing my wife and I learned is that grieving is a relational activity. God used it to build our relationship with Him, and each other. The beginning point for grieving should always be prayer; and that in a community.
When you're ready to take the first step in your adventure toward more, ask God to reveal something that you need to leave behind. This will allow you to practice the grieving process, and He will meet you there.
Photo source: istock
Rob Streetman is the president of inLight Consulting and is author of The Map Maker. He is called to encourage, edify and equip Workplace Leaders as disciple makers and transformation agents. He began inLight in 2005, after 25+ years in the IT industry.
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