Can grief be a gift? What a bogus title, you say?
Yep, it felt weird typing it.
Here's the thing: Jesus is doing some real things within my heart, and I have to share this with the desperate hope that your heart can feel touched or understood, or if I can make one person get the sense that they're not alone in this struggle.
What a heavy word. When spoken, it carries a ton of weight. The word alone is an ugly, harsh word. How could this ever be considered a gift. Bleh, right?
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (ESV)
In the book, Inheritance of Tears, Jessalyn Hutto reminds our hearts, "He who loved us even to the point of death- even death on a cross- will minister to our wounded hearts. His perfect love will overshadow any suffering we have encountered on this earth. It is for this reason that Paul was able to say that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Undoubtedly we grieve, but we do so as those who know we will one day be raised from the dead to a new life with our Savior! We grieve, but as those who know that grieving itself will one day come to an end."
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
My older brother, Justin, calmed and assured me when he told me, "When you are in the midst of grieving and you are starving for peace, the Kingdom paradox of desperate peace distilled says this, Hallelujah, all I have is Christ." That. Will. Preach.
This passage is a FAVORITE in Romans 8:18-28. So good. Read it. Like every day. Do it.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18
So you may have read the title, "The Gift of Grief" and out of curiosity clicked this post thinking, "This girl is out of her d@%# mind!" Grief can come like tidal waves (maybe a "tsunami" is more appropriate), with unexpected swarms of pain and sadness. There is surely a hideous side of grief, but I've seen through the grace of Jesus how this grief has been used for my good and His glory. I've seen incredible ways Jesus has used my darkest moments to relate to women who have experienced loss and with empathy to mourn with those who mourn.
Through this season I'm (still) walking through, I've learned a few truths about grief and the effect it has had on my heart:
1. It's okay to let the ugly cries out.
There's no shame or weakness in releasing through tears. My patient husband never knew how contorted I could make my face with how heavy I've cried this year. Not a pretty crier...
Growing up, I rarely was one to cry. And if I was going to cry, it would be in the shower where no one could see me. I wasn't a fan of being vulnerable or looking dramatic or weak. This was most likely due to stubbornness or pride. But when the gut-punch of grief invades, there's no holding back the tears. When it truly feels like there's a gaping hole in my torso after losing a child, I gave up on the front to be okay when I simply couldn't fake it any longer. I learned especially coming out into the public of what we call the world wide web with my miscarriage, I couldn't hide anymore. More people approach me with words of encouragement and understanding, but I used to hide in my so-called "safe" little bubble. This ministry of freedom to grieve out loud has since brought me out of said bubble.
2. You don't need to hide your pain.
You don't need to grieve alone. Grief can often be a silent struggle. But here's the thing, it doesn't have to be. I am not saying don't be cautious in who you share your burdens with, but there is freedom in sharing what's on your heart. It is a beautiful (and yes, terrifying) thing to share the deepest parts of your heart. I have to admit, I was nervous to put my heart out on the internet for all to see how utterly broken I am (so very broken), but if my testimony can give someone hope or let them know they are NOT alone and the Lord never left their side, this vulnerability is all worth sharing.
Friend, you are not alone, nor will you ever be. Even when you're sitting in a pile of dirty clothes in your closet, bawling your eyes out, you are not alone. When you feel misunderstood, that the world goes on, when in your heart everything came to a screeching halt, the Lord hears your cries and knows your heart and weeps WITH you.
The devil wants us to isolate ourselves, especially when we are hurting. These are my honest confessions from a self-proclaimed professional hermit. If I am completely honest, I felt a little apprehensive the days following posting this blog. I heard a serious lie and accusation from the devil, "Oh no, what have you done? Now everyone will approach you about your miscarriage and bring up all these hidden hurts at any moment." That is a LIE. I shouldn't fear a response from people who care for me. The devil wants this grief to conquer me or destroy me. He wants me to believe that I should be afraid to share. He wants to silence me. He wants me to be a hermit and push people away. The devil wants my pain to be wasted, without purpose.
2 Timothy 1:7 became my battle cry.
I'd try to hide all my hurt because I didn't want to burden anyone with my troubles. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me. Or I was simply afraid to share with the fear of talking about it over and over- rehashing these deep wounds. Well, sister, if you're grieving, there is GRACE for your heart. You've got to accept this grace, you've got to give yourself grace in the time it takes for your heart to heal and grieve, and you need to extend that same grace to others who could very well hurt you.
Lord, would you help us extend grace? The same grace you freely give us.
Help us extend grace:
- to the woman small-talk asking a barren friend when she will have children
- to the well-meaning acquaintance commenting on how tiny their baby is who is diagnosed a "failure to thrive"
- to the loving, but pushy, parent who pesters their single daughter to "find a man" because they want the best for her
- to the friend who makes a light-hearted joke that leaves your heart heavier than before
- to the peer who makes every conversation about them and tries to one-up your confessions or pains
- to the roommate who doesn't clean up after themselves
- to the student who destroys your school supplies (and sanity)
- to the spouse who is coping with anxiety, stress, and being overwhelmed
- to the neighbor who double parks in your spot
- to the barista who gets your order wrong
- to the dog who chews up your favorite sandals
Jesus, would you remind us that we were undeservingly forgiven of much and that we need to extend that same grace to others? I promise we cannot do this on our own.
3. There is surely joy to come.
Although your heart feels irreparable, there is surely joy to come. In the midst of my grieving, I've experienced some dark, devastating moments where I felt isolated, alone and misunderstood. I felt stuck. Like my depression would never be overcome. Like it would take my life, literally or figuratively. In those moments, I couldn't see how this weight I felt could possibly get any lighter. I tried so hard, but couldn't see past my current pain. It felt as if I would always be in such a dark place. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. Friend, in every moment, weak or strong, lean on Jesus and put one foot in front of the other. You aren't alone. I am praying fervently for every soul who reads these words.
My sister-in-law, Meryl did a tremendous job of encouraging my heart through this season and she spoke these words to me, "My hope is that you will one day move to a place of joy in the midst of pain for the gift of that little life regardless of how short." It's a huge sigh of relief in my heart when the people who are consoling me acknowledge that the life inside me was, in fact, a human child. My child. It is encouraging to look back, within the depth of my grieving, Jesus never left me and he is, in fact, restoring my joy more and more each day. I get chills when I am reminded of His faithfulness. In this post, Joy in the Tough Times, I share how God is so faithful to deliver us from the crappiest of circumstances.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
4. Use the Truth of God's word to combat lies.
Identify the lie you're believing, and freaking destroy that lie with the truth of God's word. In the book, Inheritance of Tears, Jessalyn Hutto eloquently reminds us to stand upon truth when crippled by such bewildering pain.
I can't tell you how many times I've needed to combat lies from the devil with the Word of God.
Ahem... daily. Am I right, Ladies?!
Where do we begin? You hear a lie from the devil, whether that is something you should worry about or be insecure about, and you've got to recognize who these lies are coming from. If you're hearing thoughts that you aren't enough, that this is all your fault, that the Lord won't protect you or that you're going to be in this difficult season forever, you have to fight. Fight for the truth. See if these thoughts line up with what Jesus calls you in the Bible. For your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need.
You are loved. You are not forgotten. Jesus loved you enough to die on a cross for you. The Lord will work this out for your good and His glory.
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)
Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
5. Relationships can grow through grieving.
One of God's graces to me through the season of grieving is the maturing in my relationship with my husband. Although we have only been married for two years (total experts and veterans, right?) we have been through trials that have both drawn us closer to God and closer to each other. Some real-life growing pains emerge when you lose a child. Emotions I never knew I was capable of feeling. I am so blessed to both know this man, and be loved by him. We have learned and are still learning how to be there for each other and how to communicate how we are feeling. He has been such a gift in this season.
There's something real sweet about Jesus being so patient with us as we learn to navigate these waters with Him.
Throughout this season of grieving the loss of our baby, Avery, I have learned to so desperately cling to the Lord. I'm talkin', SO desperately. With desperation in every shaking voice prayer crying out to God in the middle of the night. Every question and doubt God would so gently answer me. Every unexpected trigger that made me fall even deeper into depression and despair, God wanted to trade my despair for JOY! He heard every cry. He never left me.
“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize”
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Although I may still not know why things happen that cause our hearts to break, I take genuine comfort in knowing that God is in control and He is working in everything.
“Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother's womb, so you do not know the work of God who is working in everything.”
What brings your heart peace in the midst of suffering? Read 20 Verses When You Need Peace for encouragement.