Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good Grief

Grief is one of the obvious downsides of transition. It's always tempting, when I leave a place, to avoid grief. I can do it by staying busy or staying focused on what's to come, or I can diminish my heart by telling myself that I'm not as attached as I am.

I've learned though that none of those are good options because grief is a friend. It helps us feel deeply and see how much our hearts have been opened to others, to love. To deny it is not only to be untruthful about the impact a place or person has had on me, but it closes my heart to the future. Denial of grief does not make the pain go away. It simply shames it and hides it away for another time.

I've noticed this all around me, not only in people who are going through a transition like ours. We don't like to deal with grief, and we don't like others to deal with it either. So we avoid it by staying busy, or focusing on only the positive things in life, or we tell ourselves it's not that big of a deal. Worse still, as believers we spiritualize grief with platitudes like, "Oh but God will use this" or "This is His will." Those things, albeit true, stifle our hearts and our ability to process the hurt.

Dan Allender said it well this week in our video, "We live in a community that does not know how to grieve, and won't allow grief. And we live in a community, therefore, that silences those who know shame, because if you cannot grieve then shame must stay silent." 

The other night at dinner, we were talking about our move. Ethan became very emotional and said, "I don't want to talk about it! Whenever I start to think about it, I just avoid it!" We talked about how instead it might be better to give ourselves times when we DO let ourselves think about it, and let ourselves feel the depth of the loss of leaving, and weep over it. We don't need to cry constantly between now and when we leave, but we do need to honor our hearts and allow ourselves space to feel. 

Grief is good. It allows us to purge the pain and wrestle with God in the darkest places, only to see that He is there as well. He is as good in the darkness as He is in the light, but we can't see that unless we allows ourselves to go there. Grief brings healing. It keeps our hearts open. I hope I can remember all this through the process!

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