The other evening, I was once again feeling the intensity and deep pain of missing my son, Austin, in such a real way. As I was crying and realizing that I will always deeply grieve his death, I was overwhelmed with emotions of despair, self-pity, and even some anger. Why did we have to lose our only son with whom we were so close to while many other families with strained relationships, have all of their family members still living? I knew that I could not remain in this state of mind and I asked God to help me to grieve in a godly manner instead of “in the flesh.” I asked God to show me how to handle my loss and what healthy grieving really looks like.
I think of the many ways that pain can come into our lives. We may face an unexpected death of a loved one, the heart ache of unfaithfulness in a marriage, a wayward and rebellious child, chronic physical conditions, severe rejection and mistreatment from a parent, sexual abuse, and the list could go on. How is a person supposed to be able to cope after experiencing any of these difficulties? Is there a time when you can move beyond these circumstances and finally put it all behind you or are you always going to be a victim of the circumstances and remain bound by the pain and suffering that you have had no choice but to endure?
So often the word “closure” is used after a tragedy happens and well meaning people think that it is finally time to move on in life. After a significant amount of time has passed, it is understood that healing should now have taken place and that it is time to “get over it”. It is perhaps compared to a disease where you can take a pill and the symptoms magically go away. I believe when emotional trauma has taken place in someones life, that individual never gets “over it”. You will never be the same again and this is alright. You will need to get used to a “new normal” and be ok with the fact that your life will never be the same again. You may find yourself marking time as in “before or after your loved one died”. You will need to find a new way to relate to the people around you and if you have lost a family member, you will need to get used to a new family personality as your whole family will be affected. A person who has experienced pain and loss has to learn how to live with a broken heart. But, remember that Jesus has come to “bind up the broken-hearted”. This means He came for YOU and ME! We need to allow Him to begin mending those broken places in our lives.
So how does a person find healing and begin to learn how to cope? The first step is to accept that life will never be the same and hopefully other people will also understand this and not have too high of expectations of you. The next step is not to give in to any self pity as this will cripple you and turn those whom you love, away from you. No one understands or wants to be around a negative and pessimistic individual! Also, realize that anger directed at God or blaming others will only destroy you. Anger and bitterness is like a poison and poison will, first of all, destroy the container that it is in. Another important step is to ask God why He allowed this event to come into your life and then start listing the benefits that God shows you. Begin focusing on having a grateful attitude and expressing this gratefulness to God on a daily basis.The final step is to ask God to reveal to you how you can reach out to others who are facing similiar situations and to make “beauty out of the ashes” of your life. When you begin to minister to others you will be amazed at how God begins the healing process in your life. Every difficult thing that comes your way, the event that causes the most pain and is your greatest struggle-will someday bring your greatest blessing with it. Every burden that you are called from God to carry, will hide within itself a miracle of great strength.
As an eagle crouches on its perch during a severe storm, it sits perfectly still and watches the lightning strike all around him. He doesn’t move until he feels a great gust of wind and then he dives directly at the wind. He uses the gusts and the storm to carry him even higher than he could ever go if all was calm and peaceful. I believe that this is what God desires of the storms in our lives. If we use them correctly, they can help us to grow and mature into something that is of great and eternal value. What the enemy has meant for your destruction, you have the opportunity to confiscate for your own use! You can become a jewel that is beautiful in God’s sight and others will be drawn to the God that you serve. You do not need to be a victim of circumstances but have the full potential to soar high above the storms and, in this way, go to higher heights than you would have otherwise. The choice is yours!