It's been awhile.
Sharing my grief in this manner is not something I've wanted to do. I may not want to do it again beyond today, but for now here I am...
Last fall I went through Grief Share, a grief recovery ministry offered by my church. I really looked forward to the structure it provided, both in walking me through grief and in my daily living - I answered the questions in my workbook each day and it gave me a little structure in my wide-open schedule. I went to all but two of the meetings. I shared things and learned things from the women in my group. I saw how the Lord transformed us all in our grief. At the start of Grief Share the facilitators were quick to point out that we wouldn't be done grieving when the 13-week class was over, but it would help us "work through our grief."
Working through grief is not fun. For me, in addition to grieving the loss of David, which is painful enough, I learned so much more about the other junk I've been carrying around and wasn't even aware of.
For instance, I've known for awhile that I struggle with pride, but when it came time to confess and repent, my heart wasn't really going there. I didn't know how to fully mean it. My pride wouldn't let me confess that sin because it meant I had to give it up, and I/my pride wasn't ready to do that. In grief, however, my sinful pride reared its ugly head in a way that finally got my attention. I wanted to solve the problem of pain and sadness my own way, and in doing so I unknowingly started down a very slippery path. It was only then that I internalized the ugliness of my deep-seeded pride and my desperate need for Jesus. Left to my own devices, I will screw up, no matter how "together" I think I may have it.
This is just one of the bags of junk I uncovered. A loss of purpose in this world, awareness of my ever-present self esteem issues, and struggling to know who God says I am are a few of the other bags I tote around. All of this and I miss my little boy.
Grief is far messier and larger than I could have imagined. I started a new 13-week session of Grief Share last night. I couldn't believe that I shook with fear and anxiety last night just like I did on my first day in the fall, afraid to speak for fear that I would faint. Today, I can't believe I did all that work in the fall only to peel back a layer and see an even bigger mess waiting for me now, complete with the bags mentioned above and bags of junk yet-to-be-labeled. This time I feel angry and frustrated and discouraged that this whole grief process doesn't seem any better than when I started.
In Jerry Sittser's book "A Grace Disguised," he writes, "I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it. I learned gradually that the deeper we plunge into suffering, the deeper we can enter a new, and different life - a life no worse than before and sometimes better."
You know what stands out to me in that paragraph? Decaying matter - it stinks. As the loss of David becomes a part of who I am and changes me, I wait for the stench of the decaying matter to dissipate. Many times it seems like that stench may never go away, but somewhere inside me I hope that the rest of his paragraph is true - enlarging my soul, entering a new life, and finding grace and growth in the pain. That means I must continue to plunge into the suffering. That, too, stinks. I don't like that option, but anything else would be running from the Lord. As He graciously showed me through my pride, running from Him is not an option.