Someone had to literally give me permission to grieve after my dad passed away last year.
I don't naturally like to appear "weak" or "out of control". It's hard for me to let even my closest friends know what's really going on in me, because, honestly, I ignore it myself.
I imagine there are those of you like me out there. Right? I'm not a hyper-emotional person, I don't cry at sad movies, and I don't really like holding babies. Puppies, though, I hold those little fluffy mongrels all day. If your kid was a puppy, gimmie, gimmie, snuggle, snuggle. (I am well aware that this will most likely change in me once my own personal circumstances change. I'll be patient.)
Anyway, once I was given that permission to bear my weakness and my sadness, it didn't exactly materialize the way you might expect. There was no big explosive moment.
A few years ago, we visited Hoover dam. It's amazing - giant, powerful, beautiful. I was astounded at how much power is harnessed by it in every single moment of every single day. If you haven't been there, you might not know that the dam itself is not just a solid wall between what is now a large lake and a barren valley below. There are 2 spillways within it, designed to slowly let the water through, so that the water does not usurp the structure and begin to spill out over the top, like a waterfall, which would completely defeat the purpose of the dam itself. Without the spillways, there would be no real dam, just a river with a nice waterfall.
As if my own spillways have been blocked, my grief has begun to spill over the top of the damn, quickly filling up the crevice below, slowly getting closer and closer to the pedestrian footpaths to the sides. And I have been the gatekeeper at the front that has known all this was going on, and that sooner or later, I'd be letting someone through the gates and into certain death. "Carry on, folks, don't mind the little bit of water on the ground," "your tourguide will meet you at the bridge on the far east quadrant," "oh there is no bridge? just walk that way, I'm sure you'll see it."
I've been letting people get their feet wet and even worse, led them into the rising flood water - because I've worn my grief as a badge. I've really been saying, "I'm sad, and you're going to suffer because I'm suffering." Not cool.
Now, I'm not saying it's not ok to grieve. It is, and it is important to our ultimate healing, and I am certain that it will continue to come up again when I least expect it. What's not ok is for me to navigate through my grief on my own, which is what I've sort of tried to do. Not very well, though, for certain.
Then, God shakes me awake this morning:
For the love of God controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh... Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinithians 5: 14-17, 20)
Grief has been the most difficult challenge I have yet had to trudge through in my life. And, knowing that I have roughly 80 to 100 years on this earth to live, I am most likely not done dealing with it. Most likely, this will not be the only unbearable season of my life, and what's more, this season is not over. But, what is certain is that, in Christ I am a new creation. What's old has passed away, and I am a new being completely. I do not grieve like those who don't have Christ, because He, the Holy Spirit, has always been here, tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me, "Hey Sarah, I'm here if you want to talk. Let's let that grief out slowly and safely, as to not endanger yourself or those around you."
In this moment, I encourage you, believer, do not let your personal circumstances overwhelm your need for God. My terribly explained dam metaphor aside, Do not let your loneliness bleed over into your friendships, forging a gap between you and true healing, brought to you by God, via people that love you. They will trudge through the pain alongside you, if you let them.