“He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds…” Psalm 147: 3 (Message)
I’ve been struggling for a few weeks now. Maybe a few months. It seems like the majority of the time I’m exhausted, irritable, and my level of caring about things isn’t as high as it should be or usually is. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me. My attitude was more negative than usual, my thoughts darker, and Eyeore was back on an extended vacation when I thought Tigger had returned. I attributed it to burnout and figured, “I have five days off at Thanksgiving. We’ll be busy, but I’ll try to catch up on sleep, I’ll have fun with family and activities and traditions and Tigger will stay while kicking Eyeore out for good.”
The Monday after Thanksgiving brought with it a whole new set of worries (more about that in another blog) and I was more exhausted than before. I called on a few close friends and asked them to pray with/for me because I didn’t like who I was and figured it had to be more than normal “I’ve been busy” exhaustion. I kept praying prayers here and there until finally, on Tuesday, I climbed on the treadmill and while walking, started communicating with my Father, really communicating.
I asked Him what was wrong with me. I knew I loved Him. I knew I wanted to be obedient. I knew a lot of things… so why did I feel like the biggest failure and like I was disappointing Him more than myself? And why couldn’t I snap out of this funk? It was getting old. I got silent but kept walking… and He filled my spirit with one word: Grief.
“Grief, Lord? Did I hear You right? What do I have to be grieving? You have brought our family out of financial problems, You have showered us with blessings all year… wouldn’t I be a spoiled brat to grieve? I have no right.”
And then He reminded me. In May 2013, God gave me a verse: II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Around the beginning of January, God reminded me that while “the new is here” is exciting (embrace the adventure), sometimes we have to make room for the new by getting rid of the old. And sometimes, saying goodbye hurts!
God allowed me to walk back through 2015. At the time you read this, it will have just been one year since we lost our beloved 12-year-old dog suddenly. He was here, we thought he was fine, and then in five hours he went from “maybe he’s sick?” to dead. That was a Tuesday. We welcomed our new puppy four days later… on Saturday. Four of the five of us got the flu starting on Sunday… while potty training a puppy. Even though I cried more tears than I thought possible between Tuesday and Friday, it still wasn’t much time to grieve.
While losing our beloved Max was HARD, the new is a hypoallergenic mix who is such a sweetheart. Without the fur of a black lab floating all around the house, allergies have improved and with them, Bill’s health is steadily getting stronger.
Family: In 2014 my sister and her family moved to California. I cried when she left, but also knew I needed to let her go with grace. This was a good thing for them and because I loved them, I was happy for them. This summer we were blessed with spending seven days with them at their house. Seven fun-filled, all expenses paid days. That trip cemented two truths: I miss my sister. She is “home.” She isn’t coming back. She isn’t on vacation. She loves it there and it agrees with her. While I’m still happy for her, visits in person will be few and far between. We were hoping to all meet up in Florida this February to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary, but God closed that door. Thankful for weekly phone calls and Skype. Grief.
I think you get the idea. There is more, but the point isn’t about the hard – it’s about how God shows up when we ask. I had no idea what my problem was. I thought it was just burn out and exhaustion, yet I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t “relax.” It was grief.
Because I’ve figured out the issue, am I automatically cured? No, but now I know it’s not that I’m a brat. I have very real emotions that God wants to help me deal with. Two weeks ago, our family dealt with the anniversary of our miscarriage (eight years) and our dog last year (within two days of each other). I keep taking it to God and He does heal the heart.
Out with the old, in with the new. How very fitting for the beginning of the new year: 2016. While the new can be very exciting, it’s okay to mourn the old a little bit. God knows. He understands, and it does make it easier knowing He’s comforting me through the pain and that while I at times feel like a brat… it’s called being human.
Take the time to grieve, to feel. Then let God lead you into the new with excitement and joy for what blessings He’s waiting to give. Because if you are His child, trust me, He has blessings He can’t wait to give to you!
© Cheri Swalwell 2015
2 Replies to “Grief”
Thanks, Cheri, for this open and heartfelt post. I don’t comment very often, but that doesn’t mean I don’t read. Have a blessed New Year.
So good to hear from you, Peter. How are you and your family doing? Blessings to you all! I have a friend who I am going to be sending the book too – I think that your story in particular will help them. Their son spent Christmas Eve in the arms of Jesus this year. Last year on Christmas Day they were in the ER, beginning a year long journey of fighting and then learning how to say goodbye for now. I think your words will bring more comfort than you realize.
Blessings to you and your family. You are in my prayers often!