The Reason I Choose Grief
Another loss today. Not the death of a person, but it’s a death nonetheless. For someone like me, one for whom everything that matters is also a matter of the heart, losses are crushing. And they don’t play fair. They stir up the unresolved grief and pain of previous losses until you end up with a golf-ball sized lump in your throat and sadness that seems to seep out every pore. I sit here now, writing from this place.
I’m taking a chance, really, knowing it will be read and circulated by many–many whom I don’t even know. I’m not looking for sympathy or an outlet, but I’m writing in this moment to be real and honest, vulnerable and transparent, because I believe we need more of that in the body of Christ. Because I believe we need to see and hear that this is what overcoming looks like, this is what it means to push through even if, even when. I wrote about this topic last week from a place of strength and confidence. Today I write feeling weak, raw, and discouraged.
I’m worn out. Tired.
Tired of fighting, tired of championing myself to overcome more of the same disappointments, the same challenges, the same limitations. I feel like I’m constantly having to hit the reset button on hope.
I want more beginnings and fewer endings.
More sacrificial love and less self-preservation.
I want to see relationships restored, mended, resurrected.
For more of us to not only mean what we say, but to follow through.
To hell with political correctness (and I mean that)–I want to see thoughtfully chosen words spoken for the benefit of the hearer, rather than for the protection of the speaker.
I want more gain and less loss.
I’ve made a personal vow not to rant and complain about anything that I’m not willing to do something about, and I’m sticking to that promise. Yet I’m here now ranting, crying out, bleeding out from a broken and worn-out heart, because I know mine is not the only one broken for these same reasons.
So from this place, I’m giving myself room to experience and explore these particular depths with a purpose and a goal:
I’m choosing grief over bitterness.
I’m choosing to let my heartbreak and sadness displace the anger and resentment that are also present. I do not deny they are there (believe me, I know they are). I just choose for them to rise to the surface and fall away. As many times as I need to, I choose to let them go. It’s not like I actually want to hold onto the sadness either, but sadness is an appropriate response for loss, and so I grieve.
No one wants to grieve. Grief is unpredictable, overpowering, and often vicious, like an untamed animal. Sometimes it feels like it can actually consume you completely. C.S Lewis said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” I suspect fear does play on our grief, making it all the more unpleasant. All the same, I will choose it over bitterness, every time it rears its ugly head, because I haven’t found anywhere in the Bible that says God promises to redeem our bitterness.
But He promises again and again to exchange our grief for something infinitely better:
- Beauty, Compassion, Gladness, and Praise. (Is. 61:2-3)
- Justice on our behalf. (Ps. 10:14)
- Joy. (Jn 16:20, Jer. 31:13)
- Dancing. (Ps. 30:11)
- Comfort. (Matt. 5:4)
- Hope. (1 Thess. 4:13-14)
- Strength. (Ps. 84:5-6)
- Peace. (Jn 14:27)
- Restoration. (Joel 2: 25-26)
I don’t have all these Scriptures memorized…or bookmarked in my Bible (though I’m going to do that right now). I had to look them up, one by one, and copy each reference. And do you know what’s happening, right now, as I write?
My heart is becoming lighter.
My conviction to push through is getting stronger.
My desire to please the Lord is rising up.
And therefore, so am I.
It’s not that I’m choosing grief for pity’s sake or to be a martyr. I’m choosing it because that choice leans into the promises of God, especially now when it feels like there is so little I can lean on. I choose it because I’d rather let what breaks the Lord’s heart break mine than be tempted to hold onto the things that ultimately serve the devil’s purposes. Then at least I can rest in knowing I am being made to look like Jesus, suffering for the things He himself has suffered (1 Peter 2:21).
The choking, guttural blackness of grief is subsiding now (it always does) and is making way for the light to come in. I know it will eventually resurface (it usually does) until the Lord has made all things right, either in this lifetime or when I stand in His presence. Until then, what helps is to know that there is purpose in the pain. While the causes for grief are often frustratingly avoidable and beyond our control, the Lord still uses our sorrow. Not a tear is wasted.
I’m still tired and worn out, but right now it feels mostly like exhaustion. I’m no less heartbroken, but at least I’ve brought my heart to the Father to hold it. It’s safe there, and so am I. I’m going to sleep now, resting in His arms and in His promise that joy will come tomorrow morning.