“To grieve we must:
1. Feel and express the feeling of loss
2. Gain understanding of the significance of the loss
3. Commemorate the loss.”
Yesterday I read these words while working through the Mending the Soul workbook by Celestia and Steven Tracy. This statement reminded me of the message in the “Accepting Your Feelings” section of the chapter titled “The Relief of Imperfect Emotions, Minds and Bodies” in my book, The Relief of Imperfection.
Grieving loss (lost loved one, dream, job, house, marriage–or the loss related to moving, changing careers/churches, learning you have a long-term illness or dealing with past abuse) is usually deeper than we first acknowledge.
It is more than merely admitting, “It is what it is.” Often when we say that (aloud or silently) we minimize or even discount our pain–and the wounds. Sadly this can work to block further growth, healing and intimacy.
We can allow ourselves to grieve AND integrate the loss. Then perhaps eventually we will be able to say like Joseph did, “You planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now–life for many people.” (Genesis 50: 20-21)
How has loss impacted you?
“Recently, I tried a new tactic with myself. Instead of asking, ‘What am I doing wrong, Lord?’ as usual (which can lure me into the numb and number, dulled-soul void), I asked, ‘Lord, what am I doing right?’
“It was a truly difficult exercise for me, because I’ve been conditioned to look for the negative (Isn’t that the only way to grow?)” I wrote these words in The Relief of Imperfect Faith, Prayer and Spirituality section of my devotional book, IT’S A WONDERFUL (IMPERFECT) LIFE. And then I shared the refreshing response as my heart listened to God’s reply.
This morning while sitting with my broken foot propped up and connected to the ultrasound machine, sipping chai tea and journaling about an ongoing disappointment in my life, I read Galatians 5 and flashed back to these words. So what did I read in Galatians?
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision OR ANY OTHER RULE-KEEPING SYSTEM, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered.” Gal. 5: 1-3 The Message (Caps are mine!)
More God-inspired evidence that I (you, too!) don’t have to bully myself in order to grow spiritually! Consistent encouragement and gentle accountability is more effective. Imagine that!
Are you breathing easier yet? I think this is another picture of grace, don’t you?Note: If you’re waiting for the next “Imperfect Prayer” blog, it is coming.
Tired And Wanting God: I had a deeply imbedded desire which I held carefully in my heart. Sometimes I felt alone with this longing. (Perhaps because as an introvert I didn’t verbalize my dreams much, if at all.) My desire? To know God—to really know Him.
I wondered how to pursue my desire when as a young mother, I felt so tired. Physically tired from running after a spirited three-year-old girl during the day and waking up six to seven times each night with a darling, but restless little boy with chronic ear infections. Emotionally wiped-out from dealing with people’s demands and my church commitments as a pastor’s wife, Sunday School teacher and children’s choir director.Spiritually drained from giving out without much input, and relationally starved due to lack of time and energy for cultivating friendships. (I ran a part-time daycare in my home plus another small business.) About that same time, I began writing a children’s book. I so enjoyed all these blessings, yet what I really wanted was to fulfill my desire. (And I wanted to do it right—whatever that meant!)
Simple Request: “Help, Lord,” I whispered.
God heard and moved mountains just for me. Well, not exactly and not immediately, but several years later, He moved our family through the mountains from Visalia, California to Shawnee Mission, Kansas. And up from my deeply planted desire grew a tiny sprout. God seemed to say, “See this seedling, Joan? Its name is Prayer. Nourish it. Water it. Watch it grow. This is the way to know Me.”
Simple Act: Setting the alarm a few minutes earlier than usual, I planned to spend those moments alone with God. I purchased a small yellow notepad and wrote the word P-R-A-Y-E-R at the top of the first page. On the notepad, I listed my family’s names. Under each name I wrote one or two words describing my prayer request for that person.
Imperfect AND Rewarding Results: My prayer time didn’t always work the way I envisioned it would. Sometimes (well, quite often) the children awakened before my alarm sounded. Surprisingly, I learned to have my alone times with them running circles around my chair. What happened during these imperfect God-meetings astonished me.
More later. . .
(This personal story is adapted from The Relief of Imperfection.)
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.