I used to think that if I could sit on a beach, staring at the water for a long time (maybe a few months?), my grief would subside and eventually just float away. I’d stand up ready to move on with my life.
But, life hasn’t offered months at a time to dig my feet in the sand and get lost gazing at an ocean. Instead, I have been laser focused on raising four people and launching them into adulthood. Since March of 2012, anyone who knows me has heard me say, “I want to finish well the job John and I started together.”
And, by God’s grace and strength and provision, I did!
Despite a pandemic, it has miraculously happened! All of our children are in their twenties and flourishing! I am so incredibly proud of them. I am not actively, daily parenting anyone! Every day it makes me smile. I am savoring a tremendous sense of accomplishment and relief and gratitude.
Last winter, as I anticipated this new season of my life, I sensed the Lord telling me it was time to give my full attention to unpacking the past ten years. Time for a sabbatical. Time for some deep, hard, holy work that simply doesn’t get done when life is urgently demanding your full presence.
So, I intentionally slowed my life down.
No teaching. No work. No new responsibilities.
To be honest, I was hoping I would get to this new chapter and the grief would be gone. Turns out it doesn’t work that way.
Just because grief is quiet and well behaved, doesn’t mean it has disappeared. I guess grief can be shy, waiting for life to calm down, so it can announce, “I am still here!” As the pace of my life has settled down, grief has made its presence more known. Tears have emerged after a long dry season. The ache of what should/could/would have been has reawakened.
I’ve come to realize no amount of time will ever be enough to “heal grief.” Making progress with grief is like anything else in life. If you want something to improve or change, you actually have to actively engage with it. It isn’t enough just to hope it will get better or go away.
So, late this summer, it was time to engage with my grief. Time to give my full attention to how it has shaped my heart and mind over the years. I couldn’t do it by myself. It was time for trained help.
I started therapy. I am going often.
Why am I telling you this?
I want to encourage anyone who senses there is an issue in life that time. just. won’t. heal.
For ten years, my closest friends and family have patiently listened as I vented; lovingly shown up when life was crushing me; and courageously helped me navigate some dark, scary times; but none of that goodwill addressed my grief at its deepest level.
Now it is time for deeper healing. After a month in therapy, I am humbled by how much was under the surface. I am stunned by how grief was twisting and suffocating my hope for my future. Yet, I am encouraged by the progress I am making and the freedom that is breaking out inside of me. Hope is rising. Hope I didn’t know I’d lost along the way.
I am so grateful for how the Lord is lovingly, patiently leading me through this process.
I am sharing this for anyone who needs reassurance that the hard work of healing is worth doing. You matter. Fully living the life only you can live matters. God made you to be fully you. Fully feeling. Fully loving Him and others. Fully growing and changing and hoping. Jesus gave His life so that we could live abundantly. Don’t settle for less. He has more for you.
There is no timetable on our healing. It’s never too late. And, if it isn’t time now, know that God will help you do the holy, hard work of healing when the time is right for you. Hold on to His promise: “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3.
Healing with hope,