A Different Kind of Grief

Grief is so thick.
While everyone grieves differently, and for different reasons, grief has a way of creeping in at different seasons in our lives.
I'm not an expert on grief.  Or on how people can and should grieve.  Goodness, I can't even claim to know and understand the levels of pain, suffering, and hurt that grief brings to someone's soul.  I recently wrote about how to enter into someone else's grief here, but I'm still aware of my limitations.

Loss is inevitable.
People lose people.
People lose jobs and careers.
People lose status.
People lose comfort & routines.

Loss is part of our lives.

But it wasn't a part of God's plan in the original blueprint of His creation.  He created all things and all things were good.  He GAVE Adam & Eve the ultimate gift.  Life.  And a garden where everything was good.  Everything!  Did you know that God was the ORIGINAL GARDENER?  Genesis 2:8-9 (NIV) says, "Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made.  The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground - trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit.  In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."  And in verses 16-17 (NLT), God speaks to Adam saying, "You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden - except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die."  Both Eve AND Adam eat from the "forbidden" tree, disobeying God's only command to them in that awesome garden!  The rest of chapters 2-3 in Genesis is fascinating and critical for our understanding of grief in our lives.

Through their disobedience, sin came into this world.  Pain, suffering, toil, broken relationships, hardship.  Loss.

I've been learning a crazy lesson during the past decade or two.  Grace.  Grieving cannot happen apart from grace.  God's grace, that is.  Without His promise of hope and grace, there is nothing that comforts a grieving soul.  Apart from the gift of salvation and a living relationship Jesus Christ, I would be trying to find solace in all the wrong places, things, and people.  Food.  Relationships.  Hobbies.  Filling the void of the loss with stuff.  I've been there.  And to be completely honest, sometimes I find myself falling into those things again.

- A Different Kind of Grief - 

I've grieved the loss of a father through cancer, of friends (through death and distance), and of seasons of life.  But recently I'm finding myself experiencing a different kind of grief.  The loss of an ideal.  A dream.  A plan.

Since becoming a mom, Joel and I had decided that staying home with our children would be the best arrangement for our family.  So I left a career that I absolutely loved, clients with whom I had developed good relationships, a reputation for being one of the most effective chemical dependency adolescent counselors with that certain population, and co-workers I truly cared for.  I was good at it!  In my selfishness, I knew my job brought me joy, fulfillment and status.  My plan was to return to that career "once the kids were grown"... and I would pick it up whenever my full-time attention at home wasn't needed anymore.

So, here I am... a year away from having all my children at school, and the Lord is redefining my idea of joy and fulfillment.  He started to ask me, "What if I want you somewhere else?  What if a counseling job isn't in MY plans for you, Helen?"  Oh... Lord!  Please!!!  Don't ask me to give up my plans!  My dream!  Really???  What else would I do?  So, grief began to  enter my world... again.  We all know the 5 stages of grief, right?  Denial.  Anger.  Bargaining.  Depression.  And Acceptance.

And believe me, I went through all 5 stages in a matter of days!  And if I can add a new stage to this mix, I'd call it CONFUSION.  What else would I really do, God?  And seriously... that master's degree was all for nothing?  

But God, in His great mercy, has started a healing work in my heart.  I'm learning to holding on to very few things in life, including the "ideal" job, the "ideal" ministry, the "ideal" anything.   I'm still in process.  He's still dealing with my selfishness.  There are days He instills in me a contentment that surpasses understanding.  Sometimes it's a glimpse of joy and accomplishment within my own home and people.  Sometimes He reminds me of the ridiculous amount of paperwork I used to deal with in the office (and hated!).  Those sets of skills, talents and gifts I acquired through past jobs were NOT in vain!  The potential of something different is so much greater BECAUSE of them!  And he also started to spark a new set of interests in my life.

Bible study.
Creative talks.
(ok, that last one is a huge stretch... but I DO love listening to a bunch of them now...)

So, you see what God's been doing in me lately?  He's birthing new interests in me!  He's creating, yet, another garden in my being.  He's reminding me that BECAUSE of who I am today, He can use me in DIFFERENT ways.  I'm a woman with a different set of experiences, a different set of skills, and definitely a different outlook on what it means to be a wife and a mother.  I've grown up!!!  And isn't that how He wants to move us along on this side of heaven?  If we were to always do the same things, practice the same skills, and continue to experience life without changes and growth, how would He mature us to wisdom?

Can I encourage you today?  Let's keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who initiates and perfects our faith.  Let's remember that when our focus is on Jesus, everything else is put into perspective.  We can breathe.  We're free to make mistakes and grow from it.  We're free to cry, to grieve, and to hope, because it's by His mercy and grace that we find joy and healing.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."  Hebrews 12:1-2

I don't know what you're grieving today...
Maybe you just lost a loved one.
Maybe your health isn't the same.
Maybe you're missing a past season of your life.
... and maybe you're still missing who you were or what you used to have.

Friend, let God's perfect GRACE bring you the peace and healing you need.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the initiator and perfector of your faith!
He created you for good things.

What Does It Mean To Have Peace?

I'm pretty sure of a few things in life.
Coffee makes me happy.  
White IS a color.
And how I feel is actually a CHOICE...

What about coffee that is so comforting to me?  

(Taken at my beloved Main Street Coffee House in Nappanee, IN)

The Song Lyrics That Have Been Breaking Me Down

What is that ONE SONG that you've listened to lately that completely broke you down?  
Not just the "breaking down" that brings a tear or two, or even those watered eyes you fight to keep sealed behind your eyeballs?  I'm talking about that ONE SONG that grabs your heart and the insides of your soul, and has a ridiculous way of making your joints and muscles turn to jello!

Nourishing and Nurturing... One Feeding At a Time

I love my children.  And if you're a Mama, I know you do, too.  I have no doubt of that.  
We may doubt our ability to meet certain self-set standards on a daily basis, and we may, more than often, beg God for forgiveness and HELP.  But as a Mama of three strong-will children, my ability to see through their behavior gets cloudy when I choose to only focus on what's on the surface.  The tantrums, the whining, the endless fights or the mean words.  When I want to speak into their character, I fail to take the time.  To look into their eyes.  To hold them and speak into their soul.  

Am I taking the time to nurture them?

When Joshua was born almost 8 years ago, my heart exploded!  

My February Favorites

Today I am sitting down to catch up and put into words a few of my favorite things from the month of February.  Some other media sources call this their "monthly favorites", "February favorites", or "monthly loves (& hates)".  I love watching, reading, and listening to those posts, videos and podcasts.  And I've been absolutely mesmerized by what people choose to do with their time and resources.

So, here on this platform, I'm choosing to name THREE THINGS I'VE BEEN LOVING from the month of February.  

Shattering The Illusion of Perfection - Part 1: Devotional Life

This is a post that's been a long time coming.

I've been meaning to write about the topic of "perfection", or, better yet... the "illusion of perfection" for quite a while.  I've noticed an increased awareness among my peers, especially all you Mamas and married Ladies out there, that perfection is an illusion.  You can't reach it.  You can't define it.  You might think you see it on other people's Instagram profile and stories.  Beautiful Pinterest Boards. Amazing Facebook posts!  

"For Whatever Overcomes A Person, To That She Is Enslaved"

I have a confession to make.  I may not look like one, but I'm a complete rebel.  I am!