Allowing yourself time to Grieve

Part of the healing process of our hearts includes paying attention to our loss.

Innocence Blooming

Innocence Blooming (Photo credit: bob in swamp)

The nation of Israel had lost many things in Egypt. Their freedom, dreams, dignity, babies and loved ones, among other things, during their time in Egypt. They needed a time away from work and tasks to pay attention to their grieving pain. For us this loss can be church moves , job, divorce, lost dreams, loss of a leader, loss of innocence, loss of a loved one, etc.

I spent some time thinking about the losses that I have experienced in my life I listed them in my travel log and was shocked as I reached 25 major losses in my life fairly quickly. Things that I had brushed over and not given myself time to deal with.  There are two times particularly that highlight for me how slow I am to grieve and how it has caused damage suppressing emotional trauma within me.

When I was 18 one of my best friends, in our gang of 6 during college, was killed whilst driving a car past the end of our road. I didn’t cry over the loss for 7 months. I remember the day God tackled me to the ground in order for me to give him my pain. It was a vivid memory for me – the day I cried!  One other time I didn’t know how to take my grief to God was after a late miscarriage. I was surprised at how much the loss affected me and didn’t know how to morn someone I had never seen. There are other times in my life when I have lost dreams, friendships, homes and other things that were dear to me.  I had for a long time denied and excused the affect of emotional trauma on my life. Now it is time to face and deal with the hurt.

Peter Scazzero in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality  lists ways in which we deny loss or excuse it:

Denial –  We refuse to acknowledge a painful aspect  : “I feel fine. It didn’t bother me a bit that my boss belittled me and fired me. I wasn’t bothered”

Minimizing – We admit something Is wrong but in such a way that it appears less serious than it is : “My son is doing ok with God. He’s just  drinking once in a while”. When in fact he is drinking heavily and rarely sleeping at home

Blaming Others – We deny responsibility for our behaviour and project it “out there” blaming it another:” The reason my brother is sick in hospital is because the doctors messed up his medications!”

Blaming Yourself – we inwardly take on the fault: “It’s my fault my mum doesn’t take care of me and drinks all the time. It’s because I’m not worth it”

Rationalising – We offer excuses and justifications to explain what is going on: “Do you know that John has a genetic disposition toward rage that runs in his family? That is why the meetings aren’t helping him”

Intellectualising – We give analysis, theories and generalities to avoid personal awareness and difficult feelings: “My situation is not that bad compared to others in the world. What have I got to cry about?”

Distraction – We change the subject or engage humour to avoid threatening topics: “Why are you so focused on the negative? Look at the great time we had last Christmas.”

Becoming Hostile– We get angry or hostile when reference is made to certain subjects: “Don’t talk about Joe. He’s dead. It’s not going to bring him back.”

 Today: Use your journal and list the losses through your life. This loss can be church moves , job loss, divorce, lost dreams, loss of a leader, loss of innocence, loss of a loved one, loss of friendship  etc. It is time to let yourself grieve for these.

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Letting your tears fall

‘Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality  listening to our emotions ushers into reality. And reality is where we meet God Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice.. However we often turn a deaf eor – through emotional denial, distortion, or disengagement  We strain out anything disturbing in order gain tenuous control of our inner world. We are frightened and ashamed of what leaks into our consciousness. ln neglecting our intense emotions we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God’  Cry of the soul Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III

A Single Tear ~ Aladdin

A Single Tear ~ Aladdin (Photo credit: canhasal)

During this journey I have discovered that not to address my emotions is to live in denial. I have found that I no longer think it is healthy to sweep things under the carpet and pretend they are not there – I need to deal with my heart.

For such a long time I have been taught, either directly or subconsciously, to hide weakness, to confess positively, to die to myself – even the good desires, to ignore my emotions, to believe I am a new creation and the past does not affect me, to hide conflict and quieten my questions, to get on with life and cover over brokenness, weakness and failure. I have found that this causes me to feel inadequate and ashamed as the “stuff” inside me affects the way I live and causes me to limp along in pain. There has to be a reality, an admitting our brokenness, a healing of the heart and a reconciliation of our souls.

For me I think it is like having rubbish in the rooms of my heart. We stomp on it, shout at it but do not deal with it. We squash it down into the recesses of our heart to try and forget about it all and lock it safely in to minimize damage. We are aware that the rubbish is there when people press against the door with what they say – it provokes a reaction in us. Memories and thoughts that are hidden may still be sore we may get angry or withdraw. We start to push so much inside we become hoarders of unresolved issues. We then become frightened to deal with things because to clear out the rooms means opening the doors. We know that once one thing falls out – the whole lot will follow quickly afterwards and this is too overwhelming to deal with. It is time to take a deep breath and open the door of the deepest recesses of our hearts. Time to let the rubbish fall out, be cleaned out, healed up and let ourselves feel again.

The only way to grow up and become emotionally mature is to understand myself and let the power of God into the deepest recesses of my heart.

If we read Isaiah 35:1&2 again we see that the desert where the crocuses blossom is full of flowering glory. The passage tells us that the land is parched and dry -so what is refreshing and watering these bulbs in order for them to bloom? The streams and waters do not start gushing forth till verse 6 so it isn’t the rivers.

Can I make a suggestion that it is the tears of those going through the wilderness bootcamp/college who are learning to let go? These are the children who have opened the doors of their past.  It is the tears of those forgiving, releasing their pain, being touched by God’s love and crying out for more.

What follows this process? When we look further on in the same passage (verse 10) we see that sorrow and mourning will be no longer be found because joy will crown their heads and gladness and joy will overtake them.

Today: Spend some time with your Father and give yourself permission to feel again. Start to open those doors of your heart and let give God access to  the secret parts of your soul.