June 5, 2008
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
Psalm 30:11 (NIV)
Sometimes when we lose things it causes a temporary panic that rises and falls in a mini-tidal wave fashion. Like earlier this year when I lost my camera with all our ski vacation pictures on it. The panic escalated, crested with some hand wringing and mind racing, and then slowly ebbed away.
But sometimes a loss cuts into your heart so viciously that it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call “deep grief.” The kind that strains against everything you've ever believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday, could possibly stand up under the weight of enormous sadness today.
I once stood at the side of a casket too small to accept. Pink roses draped everywhere. And I watched my mom as she lay across the casket, refusing to let go. How could she let go? Part of her heart laid within, so quiet and so still.
I stood paralyzed. Just days ago we were doing everyday things and assuming that all of our lives stretched before us in spans of many, many years. And then suddenly it all stopped. In the flurry of funeral plans and memorial services we all operated on automatic. People were everywhere. Soft chatter filled in the gaps that our stunned silence could not. And enough food was brought in to feed the whole neighborhood.
But eventually people went back to their own lives. The soft chatter dissipated. The food stopped coming. And we were forced to carry on. Only we had deep grief wrapped about us that made our throats feel strangled and our feet stuck in mud.
I remember I tried to go to McDonalds to order a happy meal. But I couldn't. I sat in the drive-through with the speaker spouting words at me I couldn't process. She kept asking if she could take my order.
Yeah, I had an order. Take away my bloodshot eyes. Take away my desire to hurt the doctors that couldn't save my sister. Take away my anger toward God. And then take away my guilt for being the one that lived. I'll take all that with no onions and extra ketchup, please.
I drove away sobbing. How dare they offer happy meals. No one should be happy today. Or tomorrow. Or next year.
This is the reality of deep grief. Even when you love God and believe in His promises. Even when you know without a doubt that you will see your loved one again. Even when you know hope is still there.
It takes time.
It takes wading through an ocean of tears.
It takes finding a possession of your loved one that you thought was lost, and realizing God did that just to comfort you. It takes discovering one day that the sun still shines. It takes being caught off-guard when you catch yourself smiling… only to realize it's okay.
It takes prayer. It takes making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective. It takes telling people to please not avoid saying her name - you want to hear it, over and over again.
Then one day you take off the blanket of deep grief. You fold it neatly and tuck it away. You no longer hate it or resist it. For underneath it, wondrous things have happened. Things that could have only come about when Divine hope intersected with a broken world.
And finally you can see years stretching before you once again. You look up, blow a kiss, wipe a tear and find it's still possible to dance.
In light of their own recent loss, may we all keep the family of Steven Curtis and Marybeth Chapman in our prayers for all the time it will take them to shed their deep grief and discover their dance again.
Dear Lord, Thank you for assuring us that your principles and promises hold true even when life seems to betray us. We praise You that Your love reaches to any depth we find ourselves in. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog today to read about how to help a friend that is grieving.
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst
Who Holds the Key To Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst
Is there someone in your life who is grieving right now? Visit my blog today for suggestions on how to help. Commit to reaching out to them this week.
Death is a reality of life. So, how can you live more intentionally each day with those you love?
2 Corinthians 1:2-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)
© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 05 June 2008.