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January 29, 2014

Pig-Pen

Hello.

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. 

Yours truly,
Pig-Pen

5 comments:

  1. Hi Jennifer, so good to 'hear' from you.

    Your quote from the book (which I gather is awesome) reminds me of a sermon by our Young Life Director last week. He talk about dirt, we tell children not to get dirty, don't go near that mud puddle etc. Yet the dirt gives us much of our food, trees to oxygenate the air, and a solid foundation for homes etc. Dirt is life giving, when we get down in the dirt of our life, of our sin, of our pain, there can be life again. The world started as a garden and when Jesus rose from the tomb, Mary saw him as a gardener. God wants to tend the gardens of our heart...he is the master gardener. He can our sin, our dirt, our pain and our grief and bring new life to us. I hope that one day you will smell beautiful flowers where you now smell a nasty stench.

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  2. I love the way your write. You have such a talent for making us understand. I will keep praying for you, my friend.

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  3. I get it. Oh, do I get it. It is hard, messy, stinky work. But, I can tell you. It will become less stinky. It will become less dirty. It will always smell a foul and not right, and we will always try to wash away the stench with other things. It's being aware of the stench and not getting used to it that is important. Once we stop smelling it and get used to it, is when we get "stuck."

    You, my dear, are still in the thick of it. It's still a suffocating and dark time for you. But, I promise you, light is just ahead. It may take longer than you think it should, but it is there. I have been praying for you and thinking of you often. I wish I could pack Lukey up and come visit with you for a few days. I feel like we could both use the company. Maybe someday.

    Love you, friend.

    Jill

    ps. Shane and I went through 2 full 13 week sessions of grief share. It's not uncommon to do so. Try not to be too hard on yourself. <3

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  4. Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us. I've been praying for you guys and will continue to lift you up.

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  5. Thinking of you... <3

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