I just finished moving through a major wave of grief.
After returning from Africa, it felt as though someone had ripped off the bandage I had tried to wrap around my heart, exposing a very real, very raw gaping wound. It felt as though I had been having a bad dream, only to wake up to a nightmare… I realize that I was probably still in a state of shock the first few months and that I had somewhat numbed myself.
It makes sense to me that this pain is like none other. God says that when we marry, we become one. Therefore, half of me is now missing.
A depression set in. A depression like I’ve never experienced before. A depression that was so bad that one day while getting in my car to drive to work, a thought came to mind. I could easily just close the door on the garage and get back in my car… It was a fleeting thought, but I have to admit that it was there. No more pain. My faith was smaller than a mustard seed. I couldn't see it. I couldn't feel it. Was it even there?
It’s easy to say that you have faith in God when life is going well. The lyrics to a particular song say, “You don’t really know what you need till you’ve got nothing, You don’t really know what you believe till you’ve been broken. You don’t really know what you treasure now, till it all comes crashing down…”
God has healed many of my life’s heart wounds. Do I believe He will be with me through this one?
I talked about it with a friend. She reminded me of something I had said to her six years ago when her daughter died in a car accident. “I told you that I felt as though I was in this river of grief and I was desperately trying to get out, but it kept pulling me back in,” she said. “You told me that you envisioned a cross floating on the water and to stop trying to get out of the river. You told me to climb onto the cross and float….” Little did I know the words would return. They did not return void.
I have another friend who is a doula. (Don’t worry; I had no idea what it was either.) A doula is someone who coaches a woman giving birth. She said something to me once that struck a truth chord within me. She tells clients to not fight the contraction, but to breathe through it. I have used it as an analogy ever since when working with people who have emotional pain – stop fighting it – breathe and move through it; otherwise it will hurt even more.
She messaged me the other day, knowing that I was moving through a major “contraction” in grief. I shared with her that this particular wave of grief was a heavy one, but I withstood it. I don’t know when the next one is coming. It might only be long enough for me to catch my breath, but God will use the strength gained from this one to prepare me for the next one. She replied with another truth chord. “Does this ever feel familiar. Not only do I tell my clients to stop fighting the pain and to breathe through it, but also to just take one contraction at a time and not to worry about how strong or when the next one will come.”
I recently disclosed all of this with a woman who is working through emotional pain who seldom feels any hope. Then I revealed something that happened the previous morning. I had built a fire in the fireplace but did not plan to light it until that afternoon. Within a few minutes, I walked back into the room. The fire had ignited. There were embers hiding under the ashes from the night before that I hadn’t seen. I couldn’t see the embers. I couldn’t feel any heat from them. But they were there. Oh, did God ever speak to my heart wound…wanting to give me hope that I can never get from this world. Even if my faith feels smaller than a mustard seed, I have to lay the wood so that the Holy Spirit can ignite the fire… And one day, it will burn even brighter than it did before.
Other lyrics from that song say, “If I’ve got nothing but You, I still have everything I need, You’re the one thing I can’t lose, When I’ve run to the end of me, Everything I thought I lost, I found it all in You my God, You’re the one thing, one thing, One thing I need…