“Quit waiting for your world to fix before you’ll let yourself enjoy being alive for a minute. Let Jesus bear your burdens a little while and give yourself to laughter. It’s an act of faith that one day we who in Jesus are gonna be alright.” –Beth Moore on Instagram
May I tell you a story? Many years ago there was a woman – her world had blown up in her face. She was brokenhearted, desperately weary, despairing and full to overflowing with profound grief. This woman blamed herself, in part, for what had happened. Why didn’t the prayers, the advice, the many, many things she tried, make a difference? What if it never changed? How could she go on? There were years of protracted sorrow.
After, a long search and some terrible therapists, she found a good one. A therapist who was tenderhearted, gifted and skilled. Someone who would help guide her through the morass, through the horror. And, someone, who, with kindness, would also challenge her. Point to the path ahead, to face her failings, and encourage her to grow. The work was intense, gruelling and the way forward seemed excruciating, slow. But true change only comes with time.
Finding help was a gift from God.
So, she learned that we are each responsible for own choices. You can point someone in the right direction, you can teach, implore, and plead, but you cannot make them choose. To let go is a painful and heartrending process.
Surrender a practice to be learned – chosen again and again.
It was to trust in the love of God to hold her, sustain her. And, to entrust the ones she loved to Him.
You’ve guessed it I am sure, that woman was me.
One of the most powerful lessons my therapist taught me was – it is okay to have joy. It’s good to laugh. Life can be rich with sweetness even during great sorrow.
This is what she said to me:
“Here is a house – the house is your life. There are many rooms in your house and you go in and out of the different rooms. You go outside, too – live a full life, the life Jesus promised. “You will have life and life to the full.” John 10:10. And, yes, Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world -but with that is also His promise of peace, of presence, of hope.”
Grief is a room
“Your grief,” she told me, “is a room in your house. Go in there when you need to. And Jesus will meet you there. You can weep and grieve – pour out your heart to Him.
And then, you go out. Leave your cares, your concerns with Him. They are safe with Jesus. So, close the door, and lean into your life. It is okay to have joy.”
“It’s okay to have joy.”
Talk about an “aha” moment.
No longer obsessed with the results, I became free to engage in my life once more. To have joy, to revel in laughter – “casting my cares upon Him,” knowing He cares for me.” To let go of self-recrimination. To let go of my burdens, to lay them at the foot of the cross.
Progress not perfection
Did I/do I, do it perfectly? No. It’s about progress not perfection. Baby steps. One moment, one day at a time. Breathe in His grace for this moment, His mercies for the next. And, to echo with Proverbs, in old English, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” KJV. So, look for joy and laughter.
Has that situation that so weighed me down changed? In some ways, yes, but essentially, no. The lessons of surrender, of trust, and living my life to the full – those lessons remain. And, often I need to relearn them with different challenges, situations and circumstances.
Philippians 4:4 calls to “rejoice, and again I say, rejoice.” So, thanksgiving becomes a lifestyle. With the fruit of peace and a mind no longer tormented by worry. But, we learn thanksgiving. It is a choice. We look for the gifts in each day.
So, it was a delightful reminder to see Beth’s Instragram post last night. It was a potent reminder to choose joy.
Facing fresh grief
I want to say, if you are facing fresh grief – please know that this is not a wagging finger. Jesus is the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with our griefs. He weeps with and for you. There is the valley of the shadow of death, and grief is a journey you must undertake. You avoid or suppress grief to your own peril. My heart breaks with you. And I urge you to find a support system, among them: trusted friends, a grief group, a faith community, and a good therapist.
I pray as you walk this journey; you know you do not walk it alone. You are loved, and you are held. I pray the God of all comfort will sustain you. That you will know Jesus, your Saviour and Guide will never leave or forsake you. And, that the Holy Spirit your Comforter, will wrap you in His tender care.
May your soul be restored and one day, may you know joy again.
P.S. There are many kinds of grief: the loss of loved ones, of dreams, of hopes you have for those you love, loss of health, or of income… and more, so all of this applies to handling grief of all kinds. My prayers are with you, my friends.