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Ecclesiastes is not necessarily one of my fave books of the Bible. It is said to have been written by King Solomon towards the end of his life…and it leans a tad cynical with a twinge of regret. I usually gravitate towards the creation in Genesis, the love of 1st John, or the smack down truth of Romans. But there are times when Ecclesiastes is exactly where I am at.
This past weekend was one of those times.
I wanted to know when it would stop making me sad to go to Aldi, when I could see strawberries and not well up, when sunshiny spring days wouldn’t make my heart hurt, and when Friday night would not seem so empty.
Sounds weird…yeah. But Nana used to call me and ask me to run her to Aldi. Sunshiny spring days we’d play Scrabble on the deck. Whenever strawberries were on sale at Kroger or Meijer I’d pick them up for Papa. Friday night for a really long time was Papa date night.
Saturday was the anniversary of Nana’s departure to heaven. Papa’s birthday is this Friday. And Papa left to join Nana in heaven on the 30th. March was rough last year…and even harder this year.
I’ve heard grief comes in waves. Well it’s quite the swell today.
When I was asking when those memories would make me smile instead of well up…I heard this…
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal.A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT
Today I’m sad…but thinking of her also made me smile. Same for Papa.
Nana started me on my family tree researching. I loved calling her with breakthroughs and showing her printouts of documents. I miss that.
I miss being called “Missy.”
I miss her dancing with us in the basement to the 8-Track of silly songs.
I miss Papa date night.
I miss mall walking with him and him tattling on me to Nana if I bought something while we were there.
I miss looking at the “fake” art, and leaning my head on his shoulder watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza.
I will always miss them.
Point to ponder while you wander… Enjoy today with your people! Embrace the ups and downs, and use them to cultivate a deeper relationship. It’s worth it.
PS..this is a musical Monday so…here’s The Byrds version of the scripture above…it’s a groovy tune. “Turn Turn Turn“
”This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24 NKJV
I’ll be honest, the past few months it has been a struggle to make it through the day without losing my temper, crying, or both. I’ve gone inward in my grief, and tried to shut out the world.
So far, in my darkened room this month, I’ve watched the first 4 seasons of Criminal Minds on Netflix.
When you are sad and depressed, Criminal Minds is probably not the show to binge watch, FYI.
I had just begun to process life without my Dad, when my Nana was diagnosed with lung cancer in January. Then I lost both her and my Papa in March. It sucks.
I love them. I enjoyed spending time with them. They were my people.
On top of that my grandparents were my security blanket in a lot of ways. Their home was always a safety zone for me. I lived there when I was a baby, spent summers there as a child, and lived there when I was unemployed.
It was my home base. I was there with my cousins for every holiday beginning with Papa Day (St. Patrick’s Day), ending with Christmas, and every random one in between. If life sucked I could go there and be safe. I went there on sunny summer days to play Scrabble with Nana on the Deck. I went there before blizzards to make sure they had what they needed. I went there just to hug them.
I not only lost my people, I lost my home.
Normally their house was where I went when life belted me, and now in the hardest loss I’ve ever faced, I can’t go where I’ve always gone for comfort.
I know I’m supposed to be comforted by Holy Spirit, and I am. If I didnt have Him, I wouldn’t have been capable of being there for them in their last days. I would have been weeping constantly and been of zero use to anyone. He is amazing. I still feel His presence and have the peace Jesus brings. But I still feel blah about life right now.
I don’t know how to move forward.
I don’t want to accept the new normal.
I want to sit in my darkened room and watch Criminal Minds.
I don’t want to miss them every day.
I don’t want to feel how much this hurts.
I don’t want to think about them not being at future events.
I don’t want my heart to hurt because it’s 4th of July weekend and there will be no cookout. There will not be hide and seek with my cousin’s kiddos in the back yard. The back yard is blooming with her flowers but she is not there. His yard has been mowed but not by him.
Death sucks. I’m so glad Jesus beat the crap out of death and was resurrected. I’m so glad Jesus is alive! Because it means I will see my people again…and they will be happy and healthy and free.
But it doesn’t change that I need to feel the feelings and deal with the waves of grief that are drowning me in sadness. Even though I don’t really know how to move forward, and I’m not sure I want to…I know I need to.
They loved me and would hate that I’m so sad that I’m wasting their favorite sunshine filled days in a darkened room.
I have no regrets. I was there with them when they left this world. That was a gift. I spent consistent time with them when I had them here. That was also a gift.
I could go on here about how sad I am right now and how many times I broke down crying while typing this…but that isn’t the point I want to make.
The point is that I will miss them forever at every event. That will not change.
I need to choose to feel those feelings and choose to deal with them. I need to choose continue to live my life, instead of choosing to hide out. I need to choose joy. Because the joy of the Lord is my strength. And I need that strength to get through this time.
Point to ponder while you wander…
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24
I believe that each day is a gift. Living this belief is a choice. Being determined to declare that no matter what this day brings I WILL rejoice and be glad in it. #joyisstrength
I’ve been playing Scrabble with my Nana since I was about 10 years old. I didn’t win a game until I was 19! Not a single solitary game. Nana never just let you win. She said, “You never learn or get better if someone just lets you win. It is about playing your best game whether or not you win. It is about learning new words and how to play strategically.”
So when I started jumping up and down, celebrating my first victory, she told me she wasn’t going to play with me anymore if this was my sportsmanship when I won. I have learned a lot from my Nana.
The best was when we could play on the deck when the weather was nice. I even made a Nana Playlist on my iPod of Glenn Miller Band, Bye Bye Birdie Soundtrack, Beach Boys and other oldies, silly songs, and Disney soundtrack tunes to listen to on those days. I’d crack up because inevitably she’d get up and start dancing when one of her favorite songs would come on.
I lost my Nana on March 11th. And the thing I will miss most this summer is those games and her dancing on the deck.
So in honor of her…here’s two of her favorite dancing songs from the Nana Playlist. I hope they inspire you to dance.
The Rivingtons- “The Bird is the Word”
Glenn Miller-“In The Mood“
In January 2010, God released me. I was at my church I’d been at since 2003. It was my home and my 2nd family. I loved it there. sigh. Anyway. We were in praise and worship and singing Jesus Lead Me On by Planetshakers. I was dancing and singing and just enjoying God’s presence…and BAM He released me. I felt different. It was one of those moments like Jesus after His baptism. I felt the fresh anointing. I felt refreshed. The peace was AMAZING! I was ready to take on the world!!!
Now had I listened fully, I would have understood He was releasing me from my church to send me to a different church. But I didn’t. I heard released and took that to mean I get to go where I want. And I wanted to go to England! So I tried everything in my power to get to England. Feel free to laugh. It’s funny. Now. It’s funny now.
What followed then wasn’t funny. I lost my job. Couldn’t afford my house. And finally at age 35, I had to live with my mom. For almost a year. I had to turn my car in to the bank, I couldn’t afford it. I felt like I’d lost everything.
Then in that broken place God started dealing with some of the darkest and most broken places of my heart and soul. The things that were so deep, I didn’t know they were there. It was painful. I would journal and then burn the pages in my sister’s woodstove so no one could read it. It was that dark. But slowly I came out of it. I’m grateful to my Mom and family for providing a safe place for me to fall apart. I’m grateful that God never left me. I’m grateful that that junk is gone. I’m grateful that when God heals, it’s so completely that it changes you forever. I’m grateful that when God restores, He gives you back what you lost plus some. I’m grateful that even when I don’t fully listen, God still moves on my behalf.
There’s way more to this story about God’s provision and things He spoke to me along the way. But this is a blog, not a book.
Anyway…after a year at my Mom’s, my old company called me. I got a job. My friend’s parents (who were like my 2nd parents) let me stay with them until I could get a place. I went back to my church. I got a new car. I got my house back. It’s like it was before I lost everything. But something was off. My church hadn’t changed, but I had. It wasn’t home anymore. But I loved the people and I didn’t want to leave. I loved the word and the worship. I didn’t want to leave. But it got to the point where I’d sit in service and leave exactly the way I came in only annoyed. I wasn’t moved by the vision of the house anymore and I couldn’t understand it. So I asked God.
This was His response, “Jill, I released you from here in 2010, why are you still here?”
Then it all clicked. Ohhhhh! That’s what you meant. You released me from my church. He made it clear where I needed to be and confirmed it. I’ve been there ever since.
What’s my point? I actually have 2.
One. What is going on, may not actually be what’s going on. Sometimes what looks like a season of loss is actually a season of gain because God’s changing you and changing your thinking. Embrace it, even if it hurts and it sucks and it takes away all your independence and pride. I promise you it’s worth it.
Two. When God speaks, listen. Write it down. Ask Him to clarify and confirm. He will. Also whatever God speaks will ALWAYS line up with the Bible. Always! If you don’t fully listen you could end up like me who is still trying to explain to people why I am not in England…three years later.
God always has bigger plans for us that we have for ourselves. To illustrate, here’s a video of Ginny Owens, a very talented singer/songwriter about her journey to being a recording artist. She really wanted to be a High School choir director, but God had different plans for her. It also includes her song “If you want me to.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLgkt3OCMCc
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
I had a plan to write about God’s kindness today, but I can’t seem to focus on it. I can’t really seem to focus on much this whole week actually. I’m over emotional and exhausted and frustrated. I keep finding myself on the verge of explosion. It’s not my favorite.
Everything in my world seems to be changing and I’m having a hard time managing all the moving parts. I haven’t been able to put my finger on what’s actually bothering me. I am aware that all these changes are for the better. It’s good change. But my heart is hurting about what I’m leaving behind. It’s still a loss.
Then I realized. I’m grieving.
You don’t just grieve when someone dies. You can grieve and mourn the loss of many things. You grieve when relationships end or change and when you enter a new phase of life. I’ve grieved relationships. I’ve grieved jobs. I’ve grieved the loss of friends who moved away. I’ve grieved friendships that changed because of life changes. I grieved the loss of my little yellow Chevy Aveo, Daisy Sunshine. I loved that car. I miss that car. *sigh*
I’ve learned that when things change (or we lose people or jobs or move to a new place) we need to grieve the things that we’re leaving behind. Grieving is the process where we let go of what we had so we can open up to receiving the new things that are coming. I’m grieving right now. I’m grieving that I don’t get to hang out with, high five and hug my youth kids every Wednesday anymore. It’s only been a week, and I miss them. But I know that it’s time to move on to other things. God spoke and confirmed that to me. I know that I know that I know it’s time. But I’m still grieving the loss.
My understanding of grieving came over time. It started when a crap ton of my close friends got married over a couple year span. I was happy for them genuinely. But I really struggled with the new status quo. My girls were gone and they were replaced with couples who had different priorities. Some moved out of town and one even left the state. I was so depressed. At first I thought it was jealousy, but that wasn’t it. I had no interest in being married. Then I thought I was just selfish, but that wasn’t it. I really wanted them to thrive in their marriages. I didn’t understand that what was actually going on was that I was grieving the loss of the way things were. I didn’t want things to change. I wanted my girls to always be my girls. It took a long time to get over, because I never acknowledged and mourned the loss of the closeness I had with those amazing friends of mine.
Then there was the man I had loved for a very long time. I always thought we’d work it out and get back together eventually. So did he. But it never happened. I asked God in the middle of a hysterical fit, “Why can’t you just let this happen?” He answered me very matter of factly, “If you want him, you can have him. But you will miss everything I have for you.” That stopped me dead in my tracks. I was like what? I can choose to go outside of God’s will. I didn’t want that! I prayed that His will would be done. And I meant it!
God was true to His word. He let the door open and I stood face to face with the man I’d loved for most of my life. We could have gotten back together right then and there. We were both available for the first time at the same time. We both wanted it. We both still loved each other so much. But deep down I knew it would hurt us both in the long run. I fully understood for the first time that I was wrong for him and he was wrong for me. I saw so clearly that we would both be settling for less. Not that either of us are bad people, we just aren’t the right people. In my car on the way home, I sobbed. I truly grieved the loss of our relationship and I let him go. I still love him to this day, but the ache is gone. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Grieving him set me free. I was, for the first time, truly ready for the man God had for me. (Ahem…I’m still waiting, God… FYI)
The first time I actually recognized that you can grieve things other than people was when God showed me that the plan I had come up with was simply not going to happen. I was devastated. I went home and literally collapsed on my kitchen floor and wailed. I had one of the ugliest cries I’ve ever had. I mourned the loss of my plan. I sobbed and sobbed. “Why God? Why can’t You just use my plan? It’s what I really want!” I was absolutely acting like a 2 year old, complete with stomping and whining. Then after about an hour of kicking it toddler style…I heard very clearly…”Going there is not safe for you. You will backslide. You’ve prayed for My perfect will for you, and I’m preparing you to receive that. You need to let go of your plan. You need to trust Me.” I stopped crying and I stood up. I repented and I let go of my plan.
When I let go, I felt lighter. I felt free. That’s when God began to prepare me and speak to me about my future. About His plan for me. About the purpose and calling He has for me. I had been holding on to what I wanted so tightly that I couldn’t receive anything because my hands were already full!
What are you holding on to? God cannot give you anything new until you truly let go of the old. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there’s a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. It’s so true! There will be a time to grieve and cry, but then we need to let go. We need to laugh and dance and move forward. So for your own good, acknowledge what you need to mourn, grieve it and let it go! You won’t regret it!