The first time
As we move through all the parts of this post, we’ll be looking at three primary aspects of time, related to grieving.
Since this will be a Post of Threes, let’s start off by reading and reflecting on 21 threesomes.
♦ Before, During and After
♦ Up, Down and Sideways
♦ Fear, Anger and Sadness
♦ Moe, Larry and Curly
♦ Love, Honor and Cherish
♦ God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
♦ Red, White and Blue
♦ Hotdogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet
♦ Yes, No and Maybe
♦ Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Tigger
♦ Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry
♦ Black, White and Gray
♦ The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion
♦ Knife, Fork and Spoon
♦ Cold, Hot and Lukewarm
♦ Bach, Beethoven and Brahms
♦ Planes, Trains and Automobiles
♦ Come, Go and Stay
♦ Whisper, Talk and Yell
♦ Stand, Walk and Sit
♦ Chosen, Forgiven and Loved
Start or restart
This first type of time can be called The Time Has Come or Now Is The Time. You’re here because it’s time—either for you or for someone you know.
It’s time for grieving—either to start or to restart.
What losses or traumas do you need to grieve—for the first time or for the first time in a long time? We know that grieving doesn’t only apply to the loss of a loved one through death, divorce or abandonment. We grieve many things in this life, including abuse and neglect, the loss of health or other physical abilities, the loss of mental abilities, the loss of jobs, losses due to crime or war, infertility, singleness, abortion, moves, and the list goes on.
Grab your journal and make a list of your Top 10 Losses or Traumas. I shared my list in the last post.
Maybe you’ve been in denial about your need to grieve—about the significance of your losses or traumas. Maybe you did a little grieving, decided you weren’t ready to see it through (or didn’t know how) and stopped the grieving/healing process after one or more losses/traumas in your life. Maybe you replaced the grieving process with distractions, busy-ness, self-medication or denial.
If that sounds like you, it’s time to start grieving again.
Why? Because you’ll feel a lot better after you do the work of grieving and journey to the other side—the destination.
You may be wondering: What is my destination? Your destination is peace. Peace in your heart and mind. Peace in your body. Peace in your thoughts and words. Peace in your relationships—as much as it depends on you. Peace in your life.
Peace is not a place without suffering or pain. Understanding and embracing this truth will change your life and the way you live it.
Moving toward mastery
Peace is a place where you’ve mastered the steps of The Healing Journey—having learned, practiced and mastered the work involved in (1) The Art of Grieving, (2) The Art of Forgiving and (3) The Art of Loving God. If you ignore or refuse to participate in any of these three areas, you can’t live a peaceful life. Something at the core of peaceful living will be missing or unresolved. Also, if you start the work of grieving or forgiving, but fail to successfully complete the work, here again—you’ve chosen to forego peace.
Thankfully, you will know when you’ve successfully completed the work of grieving. You will also know when you’ve successfully completed the work of forgiving. How will you know? You will know because of the peace you experience—the undeniable peace.
You can also know when you’ve truly placed your faith, trust and love in God. Sadly, many Christians struggle with fear and uncertainty about their relationship—where they stand—with God. This anxiety is counterproductive and keeps us from the spiritual thriving God desires for us.
Saying certain words (i.e., praying a certain prayer) doesn’t make you a Christian. If you have concerns in this area, the sermon “Assured by the Holy Spirit” is for you. Click here, then click on the icon for the series called Assured and listen to this sermon from July 2, 2017.
The first step
Like all journeys, the most important step is the first one—the decision to take the journey. Without that, we get nowhere. With it, we begin the momentum, the forward movement, the first of many successful steps in the work of The Healing Journey.
After you embark on the work of grieving this time, there will be days when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Some days, you may feel like you’re actually going backwards. You may be tempted to quit and go back to The Land of Denial (or distractions/busy-ness/self-medication, etc.). You’ll agonize over how long it will take. You’ll cry out to God for relief.
Yes, grieving is hard work. Lean in to God. Hold fast to God.
On a ship, a line or rope is considered to be “fast” when it’s tightly and securely fastened. It isn’t flopping around. It isn’t loose. It is tight and secure. A loose rope can’t support you. A tight one can. Why do sailors advise each other, especially in stormy seas, to “hold fast”? It means, “Hang on tight. Your life depends on it.”
If you’ve ever seen the movie Master and Commander—one of my personal favorites—you’ve seen the dangers involved with big sailing ships in bad weather. I highly recommend this movie for its many positive, thought-provoking themes. My favorite line in the movie? “God be praised,” spoken at the end of a funeral conducted by Captain Jack Aubrey, played by Russell Crowe. Brandon and Logan have started reading this series of books, the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. Challenging and intriguing, from what I’ve heard.
Whether you feel like you’re slipping and falling down or standing tall and steady, hold fast to God. We talked about building a right relationship with God in the series about sociopaths—especially in the five-part post called Thanksgiving. We’ll talk more about building that relationship in this series and why it’s so crucial to The Healing Journey. And we’ll dive into the work of forgiving in the next series on Choosing Peace.
Peace in the storm
Surprisingly, to some people, even while you’re doing the work of grieving or the work of forgiving, you can experience peace—if you’ve given your heart lovingly, devotedly to God through Jesus Christ his son. There will be struggles. There will be pain. There will be conflicts within your own mind (and sometimes with other people). There will be painful emotions. There will be tears. And much more….
But amid all this pain and strife, you can feel the glimmer of peace—a quiet comfort—at the same time. This peace assures you that you’re taking the right journey at the right time for the right reasons.
The peace that surpasses all understanding allows you to truthfully say This isn’t what I wanted. I wouldn’t have chosen this for myself. But I trust you, God. I’m holding your hand as I walk and stumble down this painful road. I’m on this road and I must walk down it until the work of grieving is done. I must walk down it until the work of forgiving is done. Hold me as I walk and stumble and fall. Hold me, Lord.
Coming next: In the next post, you’ll read about slippers, a vegetable garden and The Long Good-bye.
Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.
Truth from The Word: Psalm 107:23-32
Song for Healing: I heard this song for the first time on August 13. We sang it at the end of our worship service at church. Our pastor had preached a sermon out of Hebrews 12 in response to a number of deaths and tragedies in our church family. What a song. I hope it will bless you too.
“He Will Hold Me Fast” by Keith and Kristyn Getty