Getting Back On Track
Today, as I write this blog, I am remembering the death of my Dad. I love that man, and like all children with their parents, I had some issues with him over the years. Yet, I became free as both he and I manned up, worked through our issues, forgave each other and demonstrated real love for each other. Though he is now in heaven, I still love him deeply, and I admire him more than many sons can imagine; yet, years after his death, some grief finds it’s way into my life. My Mom passed further back in the past; yet, I have similar experiences with this special person in my life. Losses of the present trigger the grief process a little, but I am at a place where it does not nearly impact my life as much as it did during those days of his or her passing. Acceptance of each of their home goings is more a part of my life; therefore, I am on track, but sometimes I get off track even today.
Surprises of Grief
Before I get too far along on this last stage, I think it is important to realize that, while these stages of grieving like Jesus are neatly written in order, it may mildly astonish you that, when grieving, we can jump to different places in the grief journey. We can be in this stage of acceptance, and then a new loss can send us all the way back to shock or anger or depression. Or we could get into bargaining. We might even be surprised by this because we thought we had “dealt with this.”
“Stepping on a Heart.”
I had this happen to me today as I was “accepting” my Dad not being here: I was actually feeling nostalgic. I was feeling warm inside, as I remembered him, and all of the sudden, I was surprised by a picture on facebook, and it reminded me of what my Dad had as a parent, grandparent, and a great grandparent, that can never be mine. It also reminded me of a wise saying: One thing he taught me, and the rest of my siblings is, “When children are small they step on your feet, and when they are grown, they step on your heart.” Our children have heard me say this before. There are many ways this can happen. And one of the most painful heart stompings comes when a parent loses a child to death. Indeed, this really steps on a parent’s heart. It’s not the child’s fault, but the heart is broken nonetheless.
Needless to say, my Dad didn’t invent this saying. It was not original with him. I don’t know who shared these thoughts first, but It seems this saying has been around for a long while. Since the generations keep sharing this, there must be an element of truth in it. I do hope the upcoming generations learn this. There is a need for each one to know this because life moves more rapidly than I could have ever imagined. Life will throw things at you that you cannot dream about. The decades slip quickly through the hourglass of time, and each generation is not far from learning this vital lesson themselves.
Well today this old heart was stomped on extremely hard. My emotions became raw. I was in some real pain! Why? This is so because I thought of my Dad, I grieved his loss again as I continue to grieve these losses of today. I guess they all got mixed up together.
What I am trying to say is this: While acceptance is important, and a genuine part of grief, grief is fluid. And we would do ourselves a big favor “going with the flow” of this free flowing journey of grief. Resisting it or trying to stop it would only be detrimental. The challenge, therefore, is to enjoy the acceptance, but also be willing to be flexible. One triggering event changes things and new griefs enter our lives.
A Thumbnail Sketch of Jesus Acceptance
- Peter was told by Jesus that he would deny him three times. Do y’all remember this story? I do, and I remember Peter’s response.
- Though Peter said he would not deny Jesus, he did indeed deny Jesus three times. Peter really stepped on Jesus’ heart. For all intents and purposes, Peter abandoned Jesus at the worst possible time. Though we won’t get into the weeds on this, Peter started his own grief process. But Jesus was really grieved because he knew, first, Peter would reject him despite all Peter’s denial. Second, Peter’s arrogance was hurtful. Third, Jesus grieved losing Peter as well. You may have experienced this kind of Jesus grief with all its elements. Being rejected, abused by arrogant behavior and the loss of the ones rejecting you is quite common in our society today.
- Sometime later — three separate times — Jesus asked Peter if he loved him (Jesus,) and each time Peter did indeed express his love for Jesus. Jesus used these three separate incidents — of asking about and receiving assurances of love — to forgive Peter three times. Even in grief, forgiving others is essential to our well being and the well being of all concerned.
- Jesus, of course, grieved Peter’s three denials. But during these moments of acceptance, there came the settling of grief for Jesus and Peter. Jesus forgiveness helped bring the final stage of grief. The resurrected Jesus, of course, was in total acceptance by this time. He had already navigated the entire grief process through all that he had experienced up to and during the Cross experience. But real healing also came into Peter’s life for his failure. At this stage of acceptance, all lives involved were changed in a positive fashion.
There are usually layers or levels to our own way of finding acceptance that the grief process provides. Multiple griefs may need processing. Surfing each one’s different grief wave is necessary. What is even more important is to know that Jesus understands your grief and my grief because he grieved, and he can help us through the entirety of the grief process to a place of acceptance. Yielding to Jesus’ divine help can change all lives concerned for the better. If we ask his help, he will help us through to the other side of this healing grief journey.
I hope you experience good grief during this holiday season. I hope you don’t walk alone, but that you truly allow the Lord to be like a shepherd to you, and let him journey with you through the valley of the shadow. He has gone before you. He will go with you, and he will help you get to the other side.
Merry Christmas! Or at least be blessed by this sacred season as you experience God’s grace in your time of need.