I have a long story but I will give you the short version.
My childhood had many significant rough patches; the kind of rough that needed a lot of healing in these young adult years. I have had to bring many memories and people before the Lord and ask for him to give me the grace of extending forgiveness though much of which was never asked for.
The last few years have been a mixture of some of the most joy and most pain I’ve experienced yet. I became a Bible teacher, which has been such a rewarding job. I got married to the man I love and God surrounded me with best friends, women I count on, plus I live in Montana and believe me, it truly is the ‘Last Best Place.’ I have also been away from my family for a long time. I’ve been watching my mom slowly die from a devastating disease and I have had to learn to say the big goodbye every time I leave her because it could be my last. I myself had to get tested for the same disease and though my result came back clear this year, my little sister tested positive. See what I mean? That’s a mixture.
I often find myself asking God a LOT of questions. Why me? Why us? Why now? Why this? Why did you allow that? All of which are valid questions. He doesn’t answer every one of them, but he has been gracious, tender and kind as I wrestle him daily on these different subjects.
Last year I went through a significant amount of grieving, which some days looked like my husband coming home to find me in a heap of tissues and tears and some days it felt like paralyzing numbness. I reached out to many people and from those conversations, one piece of advice stands out loud and clear. Someone I respect told me, “Laura, it sounds like you need to make appointments with your grief.” She was right. There were so many times I would try to keep juggling all my normal life tasks and push my pain down.
I would busy my brain and schedule with more than I could handle SO THAT I wouldn’t stop to think about the weight that was crushing my chest. Of course this caused surprise-attacks, like one afternoon standing in the line at Walmart. I was behind a woman who looked like my mom and I weeped uncontrollably while being checked out myself. You can imagine that poor cashier’s face. What about when I hear my 20 year old sister talk about her bucket-list of things she wants to do before the 5-7 normal years the doctors have given her, are over? I can’t explain the sort of numbness it ‘requires’ to keep it together thinking about how unfair that is.
Of course this all bubbles over. Of course that is NOT God’s plan for my grief. I recently taught the Book of Job and it so challenged my view of what I do with my pain. Am I stewarding it well? Am I treating it with respect and giving it room? No. I wasn’t and the more I pushed it down, the more it pushed against me. OR what about when I went to the other extreme? Spilling it uncontrollably all the time; being the only thing I can think about therefore being the only thing I can talk about. Letting it rule and run my life, my relationships and my decisions. It is exhausting. Are you exhausted?
I was and don’t get me wrong; this is still a daily struggle. I have learned to make appointments with my grief. To sit down before the throne room of God and weep. To fall apart, on purpose. Sometimes it looks like being alone, finding a place to actually use my voice and cry out to God; to spell out my hurt and explain my confusion. To be heard by God.. and myself. Other times it means getting together with someone who loves me enough to listen. Who won’t try to fix anything but who I trust to be a pillar of truth. They trust who God is and they know under it all I trust him but in this moment, I need to express my doubt and pain; and they let me.
The biggest trick is being aware you need an appointment. This isn’t like you’re bleeding out so you’re rushed to the ER; this is long before that. Like forcing yourself to regularly to take time to ask God and yourself how you’re doing and to actually listen; to not be afraid of what will come up when you pause and are stuck with your own raw thoughts. I realized that, when listening, often my heart is trying to tell me I need to take the time and often God is speaking to me about the pain I am trying to manage alone.
It is not just for us that we seek healing and comfort in our grief.
The thing is, hurt people – hurt people and healing people – help people heal. It is not just for us that we seek healing and comfort in our grief. We learn about our Comforter when we take time to seek him together, when we humbly invite God into our brokenness; that’s part of why he came. When we stand together as the Body of Christ, all healing in our own way and leaning into his grace and peace, together we mourn and together celebrate his strength in our weakness. Our grief is an invitation so create a reminder on your fridge or set one on your phone. You may have an appointment coming up…will you be there?
Thinking about making an appointment? Learn more about a YWAM Discipleship Training School!
A Discipleship Training School is a 5 1/2 month intensive missions and discipleship course. The journey begins in Lakeside, Montana where students get to learn and grow in the Lord followed by traveling to an outreach location to make God known in the nations.