Friday, June 28, 2013

The Courage to Grieve Well

Grieving. It is a part of this broken life. Whether it is the death of a loved one, or the death of a dream, a goal, a cherished ambition, loss radiates deep within. Sometimes multiple losses strike at once: the loss of a job, a new diagnosis, something unexpected that barrelled down and caught you unaware. Or, it can come in the form of walking daily under the oppression of multiple medical needs, any of which are prone to spiral out of control at any moment. Care-giving drains the body, soul, and even spirit, cramming in much more than we were built to contain.

Any time there is continual stress it is important to find release. Taking time to grieve is key in finding wellness, and the One who is our healing has already provided. Look at the beautiful, biological design of the human tear ducts; a conduit of release to help us be cared for in times of trauma- and a wonderful gift when stresses surround.

When we were made, our Creator knew we would need a way to pour out the toxins that build up, so we are designed to have a natural, healthy way to detoxify. No spa needed. Simply time alone with the Healer to pour out what clogs us up, and then, to be filled by life giving comfort and unconditional love. There is a relief that comes only through the salty effusion of tears. We need to cry. We were made to cry.

This week I've needed a good washing within, and I've found that music unlocks emotions I hold on to a little too tightly. As I sought out songs to bring on the pouring out, I ran across three really good ones:

Blessings, by Laura Story
My favorite lines: "You love us way to much to give us lesser things" and "What if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears."  Yes. Our healing does come through tears. Literally. If we hold in the tears, we are withholding healing from ourselves. This songs resonates with the many ways my view of God has changed since beginning the journey through multiple life altering diagnoses.

I Will Praise You in This Storm by Aaron Wright, Sung by Casting Crowns

Except I have to say, that I'm coming to believe that God does not "take away"- at least not in the sense that I understood earlier in my life. I believe that much of our suffering is a product of living in a fallen world. We must be careful to not blame God for that which the choices of man set in motion (death, disease, etc.) God  can- and does- transform what the enemy intended for evil into something beautiful, but let's be sure that in our pain, we do not submit to the truth twisting of the enemy. God is good, whether life is what we want, or not. And so I believe the choice the author makes to praise God despite loss and disappointment is worth a second look.

Held By Christa Wells, Sung by Natalie Grant

Again, this song examines what we believe in times of loss. When confronted with all that is appalling in this world we sometimes give in to the "entitlement gospel" too easily. We think that because we love God, bad things won't happen to us. But the truth is that the followers of  The Way, early in the history of Christianity, were by and large tortured, imprisoned, even killed. So what are we promised? We are promised that in the midst of the worst that could happen, we have the choice to be held.

Suffering will come in this life. That is a guarantee. Every person that treads this earth will know sadness, loss, betrayal, or bitterness at some point in life. It is a given in this sin sick world. People let us down, and the wounded hurt others. So we can choose to blame God for the painful things that cross our path, or we can understand that His purpose, His plan, is to heal our hearts. To bring wholeness and make us well. And while we may not like what happens, we can choose how we respond. We can keep the One who is our comfort at a distance, or run into his outstretched arms.When we nestle into the embrace of the One who is love, we will find that he is the gift in our suffering.

~Just Me

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Failure? Or Freedom?

Failure.  We are all confronted with it. Whether we face our own expectations or those of others, we all fall short sometimes. And there are the times when life- and even God- seems to have failed us. Times when no matter how hard we try, no matter what buttons we push or what loads we carry, all we find in our path is disappointment. 

Daily, I work to manage various life altering and even, at times, life threatening diagnoses. And sometimes, no matter how hard I strive, at the end of the day (or month, or year), I stumble through that feeling of failure.

When I am at the end of all I want, for myself and those I love, it's time for an altar walk. I go outside and pour out my concerns (usually aloud) to the One who hears- and listens.  Movement is a conduit for release. These walks keep me sane, grounded, when life is crowded with struggles and disappointments. Green rolls out before me, punctuated with pinks and yellows and blues, and I breathe in the beauty of creation.
My attention is drawn outside myself and my wants, to a place where I am open to re- direction. I become willing to let go of my expectations, my wishes and wants. I am free to walk in God's plans and purposes for me- and my family.  There is peace- even joy- in release.

Here I find that the diagnoses, the special issues that seem like limitations are actually marking out the path set before me. Helping me connect with those who will support and encourage me along the way, and connecting me with those God will pour into through me, as well. The course is not always clear, and the unknowns at times seem daunting. But the beauty of this way is that I have a loving Guide. One who knows every need in me- and those I love.
The One who is dedicated to healing souls and hearts walks with me, offering to draw close and sustain in every season. Letting go of my way, my wants allows me to embrace that symbiotic relationship where I am held, cradled through the entire journey. 

At the end of the struggle I always come back to the One who has wholeness at heart.  I am set free to experience more- not bound by the limitations of my wishes, but protected by such great love for me- the love that offers what is in my own best interest. It's not just for the lives I will connect with as I walk. It's for my own journey towards wellness. 
So in times when the path set before me is not what I would choose, I've learned to let go of that illusion of control. Then I find that the choice to walk where I am held  liberates me. The choice is clear- release and trust, embracing my own unique stages of grief, or cling to vapors. Even when it hurts, I can trust that God can redeem this, too. He never fails to give beauty for ashes.