Grieving

People say that grief comes in stages, like a staircase maybe. To be honest, I have found that the “stages” of grief are not as distinct as I thought they would be. There is not much of a pattern to how I have grieved. For me, I think grief is better explained as a pool which I am swimming in. Some days I am on the deep end, floundering around in pain and grief that is over my head and it feels like God is far away. Other days I am in the shallow end dealing with easy stuff, and I know I am safe because I can see God. Yes, I like it: grief is more like a pool, not a staircase.

I think most Christians realize that life is a battle, and more importantly, a spiritual battle. But tragically not very many of us are willing to openly talk about our battles. Where are we at, in our battles? How are they going? If it is a fact that we are all in a battle, then let’s be real about it. Let’s confess when we fail, rejoice and sing when there is victory—and intercede when there is intense fighting. Am I describing church? I hope so.

I am in a new battle: my Mom was recently killed in a car accident, (see post “[Not] an Accident”). The grieving process has been completely different from what I expected. At first, God felt extremely close and dear. My faith was nearly unshakable, and I could freely praise God.

Lately, though, it has been more intense. And my emotions have gotten themselves confused with sea waves, going back-and-forth, back-and-forth. It requires some of the most intense fighting I have ever had to do, and unfortunately, I stink at it. I am so pathetic when it comes to warfare because I just quit trying after awhile. Satan attacks me full force with every lie I have ever struggled with since I was a kid, and like a toy action figure I just plop over. I struggle with lies: lies about myself, lies about my friends and family, and lies about God.

Satan is like a spider, weaving webs of deceit and despair waiting for me to blindly walk right into them. I need a rescuer to cut away the sticky threads that get matted into my hair, and stuck onto my skin. Every day I need to take a bath in the peace and love of God, or my soul begins to reek. I hate baths. They are so humbling and time-consuming. I have things to do ya know.

Sometimes, we as Christians get strange ideas into our heads. They become foundational beliefs that weigh us down and drive people away. One belief that has weighed me down for years is the lie that I need to be perfect [failure-less] in order to please God. A lie that often accompanies this belief is that God does not love me unconditionally. But the truth is completely opposite! The truth is that God loves me no matter what I do! “God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 8:5). And because He loves me God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die in my stead. And He has placed on me, Christ’s perfection so that God and I might again have fellowship (see Romans 5; actually, read the whole book).

I do not think that God is asking us to get our lives, our thoughts and actions, straightened out and perfected. But rather, I think He is asking us to simply depend [trust] upon Him for forgiveness and security. He is asking us to surrender. He can do anything with anyone who surrenders.

So I choose to trust God. Faith, love, trust, hope—all of this is a choice. If I only trusted when I “felt like it,” frankly, I would have abandoned my faith long ago.

Let’s be open about our battles, because they are real and intense. There is no shame in struggle. The shame comes from hiding failure. “He that covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

I was blessed by Tenth Avenue North’s latest album, The Struggle, even before Mom’s death, but recently the song “Worn” from that album has been brought back to the forefront of my thoughts. I think the lyrics are some of the most beautiful expressions of the spiritual battle we all face, that I have ever heard. So I have included them below. Listen to the music as well, if you can, it is also very beautiful.

Worn

Tenth Avenue North

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing.

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world.

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn.

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn.

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn.

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn.

My prayers are wearing thin
Even before the day begins
I’ve lost my will to fight
So, heaven come and flood my eyes.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn.

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn.

C.D.

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12 thoughts on “Grieving

  1. Something written from the heart like this is so clearly healing, both for yourself and for others who have walked this path. God will keep you safe and will keep on giving you the strength, not only to keep your head above the water but to swim strongly, and there will be times when you will walk on the water, for joy will be given to you in surprise packages, in unexpected times and places. Do not push away the gifts, but take them, whether tied with ribbons of pain or wrapped in plain brown paper. God knows what He is doing and He delights in your expressions to Him. Love sent your way, Christopher.

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  2. Christopher, I am so proud of you an am so blessed to know a man like you. Your honesty is something I admire and respect. Your Mom and Dad did a great job of leading you to something big and amazing. We (Jared an I) will never think less of you for the baths you need to take. We take them too. Hang in there!

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  3. thank you for sharing and thanks to Carita for passing it on…I really needed this. Its been almost 3 years since I lost my dad and ive really struggled the last few weeks. plus ive been mentoring a 17 year girl from our church who lost her dad tragically last June. So it was really needed for me. Thank you. Praying for each of you…May you feel God’s arms around you when all else seems gone.

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  4. Oh, Christopher, thanks for being “real” about where you’re at in life right now! I echo what Carmen wrote! I know the battles that I’ve been facing recently are different from what you’ve had to face, but I can certainly identify with feeling “like a toy action figure.” When the battle is hard and there is no strength left to fight, I’m so thankful we can “call in reinforcements” who will rally around us and “carry” us to our Father. Thanks for being willing to fight for JJ and I last week. And now today… I fight for you! “May you see redemption win!”

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  5. Lord bless you, what you express is the reason I pray for those who are greiving, The journey is hard. I care about you and your family. I am a stanger to you, but that dosn’t matter to God. Keep you hand in the master’s even when the waves are greif wash over you.

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  6. Very well written – about the grief being like a pool, the way Satan weaves webs of deceit, and the way we need daily rescuing. And “amen” to these statements: “There is no shame in struggle. The shame comes from hiding struggle.”

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  7. Never give up Christopher! Temptations are not sins—it’s when we succumb to them that it becomes sin. Yes,this life is a battlefield, but praise God we’ve got power to win in the Name of Jesus!

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  8. Your courage and honesty is encouraging us all. The church needs this. Keep sharing with us what the Lord gives you. You are called to lead.

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  9. Wow! Thanks so much for what you wrote! I lost my mom a little over 7 months ago. It encouraged me so much because I know what it’s like!

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