The Process of Grief

31 10 2006

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If I’d been asked to describe the progression of grief a few years ago, I would have assumed it’d work through a nice orderly timeline.  It would start at the loss and work through different emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.) in some sort of logical order.  Each emotion would be a level and once worked through, you’d move on to the next stage in the process.   

I have since concluded that grief doesn’t follow a systematic timeline.  Instead, it often reminds me of a rollercoaster — up and down, to and fro, and all without any warning.  You hang on so tight your fingers hurt, scream your head off, and try not to get sick on the unlucky person who’s seated in front of you.  You can go from being at acceptance, to anger, and then right back to just feeling depressed, and you would’ve felt like you’d worked through each of those already.   

Just One Wild Ride 

Grief isn’t a cycle — once you’ve worked through something you’re on to the next phase — because the feelings and struggles are always there, but it’s impossible for anyone to try and deal with them all at the same time, so it comes it shifts.  The process of working through grief doesn’t inch along, slowly but surely, going in the right direction.  It takes quantum leaps that seem to lead anywhere but forward, but eventually, someday, comes to an end. 

Some days, I wake up feeling as if the world is almost as it should be, but the reality of what I’m dealing with can hit again and leave me feeling dazed.  It makes me hesitate when answering “How are you?” because I don’t want to drag everyone I know along on my rollercoaster.  If I cry when talking, they assume life must be “bad,” but if I’m able to smile while reporting the details of life to them, then life must be “good.”  But the struggles are always the same; they’re always there.  I think this is something people have a hard time grasping.

Out of the Box

Often, it seems as if people are only able to place me in one of their mental boxes.  If I?m in the “Poor Kelsey” box, they’ll ask sympathetic questions and make sad eyes to such a sickening degree I’d like to sign them up for acting lessons — if they’re going to act, at least they could try looking sincere.  When placed in this box, people seem to forget I’m even capable of talking about anything lighter than grief, death and the like, or would even want to do something simply for enjoyment. 

On the other hand, if I’m stuck in the “Life is Fine” box ,when I mention something about my dad’s health and how life is going, they’ll look surprised for a moment and comment, “Oh, that’s right? how is your dad anyways?”  They’d forgotten anything was even happening.

I hate being in either box, because both are such horribly inaccurate representations of my life.  Some of it might simply be that they can’t understand what the process of working through grief looks like; they still think it follows a timeline, so they don’t understand why I don’t feel “better” yet, or why I haven’t moved on to the next “stage.”  The trouble is, there aren’t stages in that sense; just one wild ride.


Looking at Regret

25 10 2006

Hind’s site is a very valuable tool.  If you let it, it can show you who you truly are, not just who you’d like to imagine yourself out to be.  Unfortunately though with the realization of one’s own depravity and sheer stupidity comes the sting of regret, and by than there’s often nothing to be done about it, which only makes it harder to sweep it under the mat.  “How could I of been such a fool?” is the question without any answer in sight.      

“And we know all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.  Due to the overuse of this verse I often associate it with refrigerator magnets with perky animals on them, and people who aren’t really listening to you, but feel the need to throw something out there, but when you get past the stupidity that’s become entwined with this truth you’re left with a beautiful promise that I can’t even begin to truly understand.   

This promise isn’t just limited to the unjust and seemingly pointless heartaches we encounter in life, the things we were just dealt, but hand no control over, it extends to the things I do, my own mistakes.  When I do something foolish God doesn’t only forgive me if it was a sin, but He says He’ll take that thing, which I brought on myself and work it together for good in my life.  It’s such an amazing promise it should be held in reverence, not as a trite well-wishing.        

Forgiveness would be mercy, not getting what I deserve, but God shows me His amazing grace by taking my stupidity and using it for something good.  There’s nothing trite about that. 

A Favorite Quote

22 10 2006

“As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character.”

–Hannah Hurnard, from Hinds’ Feet on High Places

Thoughts on Worship

21 10 2006

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For the past few years, sadly, I’ve been far from impressed with the Christian concerts I’ve attended. The concerts have been everything from the small unknown local bands, to the ones whose songs dominate most young church goers’ CD players, and some in-between.

At one concert I was at, after the electric guitar solo and light show had ended, the lead singer decided to give an altar call, but he failed to even mention sin and the importance of the Cross, so it turned into a “God Wants to be Your Buddy” talk. I was left wondering if the man had come to a saving knowledge of God, himself.

“Christian” Concerts

At other concerts, there have been big, burly men — who looked like bouncers at a wild night club — whose sole job was to separate the “worshipers” from each other so they don’t hurt someone.

And there are always the hysterical teenage girls who scream about how “hot” the band members are throughout the evening, and then chatter later about what an amazing “worship” experience it was. I do concur that they did spend the evening worshiping, but rather than worshiping the King of Glory, they sang and screamed for the people on the stage. They “worshiped and served the created things rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1: 25)

The numbers at these “Christian” events seem to showcase how Christianity itself is morphing into something which closely resembles the MTV culture — materialistic, self-absorbed, lust-saturated, and run and operated by a few rock stars on a stage, rather than by men and women of spiritual maturity. It isn’t the music industry, specifically, that I find heartbreaking.  It’s modern Christianity on a whole, and it just manifests more fully in concert settings.

Set Apart

When did Christianity and worship stop being about Jesus Christ dying for us, and become about Consumerism, instead?

As a Christian, I’ve been called to be set apart, but the modern church is on its way to becoming nothing more than the sanitized version of what’s around it — the PG version of an MTV world.  God doesn’t want fans, He wants disciples — people who are willing to pick up their cross and follow Him.  It’s not a fun or simplistic calling; it’s a call to die.  But it’s only in dying to ourselves that we can truly live.

I often wish I could show people how amazing what Christ did for us truly is, to somehow be able to hold the wonder and the glory of the Cross in my hands, but it?s like trying to explain a sunset to someone who’s never seen colors.

True worship, which is a lifestyle not a musical style, is such a beautiful thing — an expression of love and thankfulness for our Lord and Savior.  I think it’s heartbreaking when anything else takes its place.

Thoughts on Suffering

19 10 2006

“Why we have to suffer is something I cannot explain, but I also believe that God in Christ embraced the same absurdities of suffering in the Passion. Am I sounding pious and devout here? Perhaps, but I confess that my belief Christ shared in human suffering has never answered my question about suffering, but has assured me that I’m not alone as I ask them and suffer on. If He can cry out in abandonment then there is a place for each one of us to do the same.”-Anonymous-

A Wave of Culture

18 10 2006

I’ve never been up on what’s going on in the teenybopper culture, and I don’t care to be, but for the sake of research regarding something I’m currently writing, I ended up getting a teen magazine at the grocery store. There was an article that fit in with my project, and it provided an interesting take on the subject.

I was shocked and appalled by the trash that was in that magazine. If you evaluated it with Philippians 4:8, there’d be nothing left but the paper it’s printed on. There was nothing even remotely edifying or even educational about it. All it does is feed into discontentment, materialism, eating disorders, depression and lust, to name just a few.

It’s horrible when people have such a large audience — they speak into so many young people’s lives — and they use it to fill their minds with junk and lies. It’s heartbreaking.

While reading it, I think I could feel my brain cells die, and then I wanted to wash my brains out with disinfectant, which probably wouldn’t help the first problem. It was interesting, though, in a sad sort of way to get a small glimpse into a younger culture.

Recently, I heard a pastor compare standing for righteousness to being in a small rowboat trying to row against a huge wave of culture; the odds seem very discouraging sometimes. I wish the tides would change, I pray the tides will change, especially in the churches.

Let it Be

11 10 2006

I can’t even begin to fathom why You’d allow so much pain and suffering. Why would You, an all-powerful God, allow children to watch their dad, the man they love and adore, slowly slip away from them until he’s gone, out of their reach? Why would You leave mothers to care for themselves and their grieving children alone? Lord, I don’t understand, it doesn’t make sense why a loving God would let things like this happen to His children.

Sometimes, when I take a moment to reflect, the pain hurts so much I can hardly breathe. I’ve lost Dad. He’s no longer the man he was. My dad’s gone, and I never even got to say goodbye. Sometimes I see traces of him for a moment, but dementia has robbed my brother, sister and me of our dad, my mom of her husband, and there’s no getting him back again.

I know several kids whose dads have fatal diseases, too. Even though I know the pain, I have nothing grand and helpful to say, but there’s nothing anyone can say anyway that can ease the pain of watching someone you love dearly leave you. A line in a song said “Love is watching someone die.” Love does stay with the person, but it’s not easy. Sometimes I wish I could run away from the whole thing, imagine the pain away, but no amount of make-believe or running will change things.

Lord, I don’t understand why You’d let things like this happen. I can’t see how having families overwhelmed with grief brings glory to Your name. Lord I don’t like it and I don’t feel loved, but I still believe that You love me and I believe that You truly know best. Lord, I believe, but I ask that You’d help my unbelief. Give me the grace to walk down this road without answers to my questions.