Written by Juli Lubelczyk
As Mitchel shared on Sunday, we all are experiencing loss right now. Whether it’s loss of normal or loss of loved ones, the process is much the same… time, pressing into the feelings, lamenting, moving through the lament into trustful hope: shifting from our how and why questions, into what questions. And as Mitchel said, that takes grit!
But what does that look like? Mitchel pointed out there’s no formula and quick fix. But there are a variety of practices that have helped different people at different times.
The most intensive would be counseling. As Jeff shared, he found it critical to press into the feelings and process through them in a safe environment. Sometimes that can happen in our small groups or with a trusted friend; but often severe loss requires trained support. Jeff and I have gone to counseling frequently the last 20 years: sometimes individually; sometimes as a couple. Sometimes through the peer counseling ministry at Grace; sometimes with a professional counselor. Grace has multiple options that can support you if this might meet your need right now.
The next step is to find practices that match your personality and interests. I’m an avid reader. In my library, I now have an entire shelf of books on grief. I have another shelf with books I’ve read about the character of God, as losing Andrew made me feel I didn’t know Him. Bible studies have also helped. I have found books and personal study to provide a regular source of “counseling” and fodder for the Holy Spirit to use in my life.
I’m also a writer. So journaling, blogging, and writing poetry prayers have been important outlets for me. The pen (or keyboard) gives me a safe place to be honest with my feelings, admit my fears and voice my questions, process everything prayerfully, and move through the hard moments. I also maintain a gratitude journal. This is simply a list I add to daily. Starting my day listing and thanking God for His goodness in my life, simple things and big things, keeps my focus on God instead of my problems.
The other life-breathing practice for me is music. When I’m out walking, I often have my phone playlist serenading me. The phrases and truths in Christian worship give me something to cling to when doubts are trying to take over. Whatever outlets and inputs you choose, the important part is creating space to process and finding sources of God’s truth to keep you centered.
Finally, I’d recommend keeping your own list of truths you’ve learned and/or cling to. On Sunday, Jeff and I shared three biggies that have changed our lives:
Eternal perspective: It’s critical to remember that as much as God shares our delight in special moments in the here and now, his love and the privilege of being eternally connected to Him brings even greater joy and peace. Knowing God will one day make everything right for all eternity brings hope.
God’s goodness: 1 John 1:5 declares God is light and in him is no darkness at all. God is ONLY good. Regardless of how our circumstances look and feel, God is present with us and trustworthy. He is working on our behalf even if we can’t see it.
God redeems: In His goodness, God has a desire to turn every evil for good. He has plans to redeem the situation you find yourself in. We get to ask God “What are you doing here in this situation?” and partner with him. Because of His goodness, we can trust His plans. Because of His sovereignty, we can trust they will happen.
To develop grit, the important thing is to find what works for you. Be intentional. Try multiple things. And realize what helps today, might not be what you need tomorrow. Grit is not something that just happens. But by partnering with God, He will show us how to take that next step. Like the Israelites before the Red Sea, He will lead us through to the other side of grief.
Gracious Father, thank you for being our Emmanuel! You are God with us. Make that truth take deep root in the life of each person reading this today. Guide us, Holy Spirit, to find the means we need, moment by moment, to embrace our lament and process it with your help. Bring us your living waters of scriptural truths to enable us to stand strong against the lies of the enemy and the doubts of our thoughts. May we rest our weariness in your strong, loving arms, knowing you will indeed finish what you’ve started in each of us. In Jesus Name, Amen.