It’s 10:17pm and I’m sitting on the floor of my pantry, eating bbq potato chips. Why, you ask? Because we are out of salt and vinegar chips, obviously. But what I’m really doing here is thinking. Thinking about running. Not actually running b/c that would be dumb, but emotionally running. Running away is kinda my jam.
I started out in life running away from hard things, but they always seemed to circle back around and bite me in the rear. So, with the help of an addiction and a buttload of therapy, I eventually learned how to deal. Still, when hard shows up, my first instinct is to run. Escape. Get the heck outta dodge. Too bad it doesn’t actually work 'cause I’m really good at it. So what is chasing me this time? What is making me want to run?
Grief. I’m grieving things that aren’t and things that are. I am living in the gap between what is and what should be. At least, how they should be according to me and my little heart. In different ways and spaces in my life, there is a profound sense of loss that is demanding my attention. And grief is a funny beast. It is what is required of us when a loss has occurred. It doesn’t have to be a physical loss to need grieving. Grief tells us that something that mattered is gone.
But like me, most people chose to run when grief comes knocking. Alcohol. Shopping. Gambling. Drugs. Sex, or at least, pornography. Food. Religion. Exercise. Social Media. Social calendars. Social status. Pick your poison. Our escape doesn’t really matter in the end. Sure, some have more devastating consequences than others, but the reality is that we are all just running from feeling. Compared to grief, numb feels like a pretty great alternative most days. But here is where the deception creeps in. When we numb out, the grief doesn’t go away. It just hangs out waiting for an opportunity to sneak back in. Like a revolving door at a fancy department store, grief just keeps waiting for us to come back around.
The reason grief cannot be ignored is because it is not just a black hole of sadness, waiting to swallow us whole. Grief is a process that gets us from one place to another. If you are feeling stuck in any area of your life, I would challenge you to stop and ask yourself “what am I avoiding grieving?” It is the process by which we MOVE thru the loss and onto the other side.
At lunch the other day, a friend and I were talking about the loss of her mother. As we discussed her grief, I told her the only thing left to do was to sit in it. “HOW? How do you sit in grief?” was her immediate reaction. My response was a simple “don’t run. Don’t run for you woobie when hard things come your way. Create space to be still in the quiet and let the grief come." As grief makes our acquaintance, it comes in waves as each one washes over us, pushing us through the pain to a place of acceptance and peace. The process may take some time, but each wave has a purpose and prepares us for the next wave that is to come.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us:
“a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
To avoid grief is to miss out on what lies on the other side of the pain. We simply cannot move on until grief has had its place. Grief is the price we pay in order to open the gates of freedom.
Notice the weeping and the mourning come BEFORE the laughing and the dancing. It is almost like grief is cleaning house to make way for the joy that is to come.
HEAR ME ON THIS! I am not saying that grieving our losses is fun. Nope. Nada. #notfun. None of us will probably ever wake up one morning and think “today, I shall grieve.” But growing in maturity requires us to do the hard things sometimes, no matter how we feel. Fight the feelings with the facts. The facts are that life hurts and we need a productive way to digest the pain. Grief is the bridge that takes us from here to healing.