We all get hurt. We all experience emotional trauma at some level and at some point in our lives.
It could be the loss of a friend, a job, our health, or a marriage. None of us escapes the agony of heartache.
And here’s something I learned the hard way: If you don’t deal with grief, grief will deal with you.
Years ago, I went through a long season of one devastating loss after another. Rather than facing the losses and agonizing over the pain I felt in a healthy way, I pressed on, positively confessed my way to overcoming, worked harder, and declared my faith in the goodness and plan of God.
I’m sure some people thought I was an incredible man of faith.
Certainly, pressing on is better than quitting.
Being positive is better than being negative.
And, of course, God is good and always has a plan.
But ignoring, stuffing, or glossing over your sorrow is a surefire recipe for some form of mental, spiritual, or physical disaster.
I realize now (too late) that not grieving adequately over what I lost ultimately cost me much more than I could have ever imagined.
Unexpressed and unresolved grief is like a burrowing worm that slips into our hearts and minds. The pain may not be evident on the surface, but the holes and damage go deep and weaken the very structure of our souls.
Unfortunately, in our Western culture, we are often told directly or indirectly that it’s okay to mourn; just don’t overdo it. Shed a few tears. Feel bad for a day or two (maybe even a week), but don’t wallow in your loss for Pete’s sake.
Rather than encouraging us to grieve for as long as it takes, well-meaning friends tell us, “I feel your pain, bro, but you gotta move on. Shake it off and keep on keeping on.”
Sadly, we are uncomfortable allowing people the time and space to wail as needed.
We don’t know what to say to those in pain, so we often say something stupid.
Someone we love with all our hearts dies, and we are told, “At least they are in a better place.”
A best friend betrays us, and insult is added to injury when someone says, “Sorry, but everybody goes through rejection; even Jesus had His Judas.”
And who is ever helped or truly encouraged by hearing, “Well . . . it could be worse.”
Or “Hang in there, time heals all wounds.” (For the record, time doesn’t heal anything.)
Almost always, the best thing to say is nothing. Grieving friends typically need a long, uninhibited hug, not our “wise” or profound words of counsel.
The best way to face the challenge of grief is with a good friend who will wail, yell, maybe swear a bit, and pound the floor with you as they lay on their face next to you in utter agony.
Weeping with those who weep is a lost art in our modern-day quick-fix culture.
Regrettably, I still suck at grieving, but I know it’s something I must work at, so I am getting better.
Yet, some broken part of my mind still whispers at times: Grown men don’t cry; godly men of great faith rise up rather than break down.
But then I remember Jesus wept. Jesus grieved. Jesus cried out in agony when in pain. He was all God, but He was all human too.
I love this quote by Sarah Dessen, “Grieving doesn’t make you imperfect. It makes you human.”
Struggling with sorrow?
Welcome to the human race on this side of eternity.
He was despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Isaiah 53:3 (NKJV)