[box] One of my personal challenges in life is to keep learning and trying something new. This series is a documentary on some of the things I am learning, whether it be as a child of God, wife, mother, homemaker, teacher, friend. I invite you to learn along with me![/box] This morning, I wanted to share with you a video from Nancy Guthrie, who was one of the speakers at The Gospel Coalition National Women's Conference in 2012. Her talk, entitled "Grieving a Loss" caught my attention, so I spent about 54 minutes watching the video. In it, she covers seven things to keep in mind as we walk through seasons of grieving. I'm not going to reiterate them all (I'd encourage you to watch the video instead!), but instead reflect on a few that really spoke to me.
First, she talked about taking time to be sad. Oh, how I wish I had known this. But instead I told myself that it was selfish of me to mourn for the loss of my own dreams and hopes. Maybe it does seem a bit trivial compared to the loss of a life, but for me it was just as painful. I would berate myself for not having enough faith to see all the good things that adopting Anah would bring into our lives. I thought that if I had enough faith, it wouldn't hurt. It seemed that faith and sadness were not congruous. And yet, one thing Mrs. Guthrie says is "Faith does not make loss hurt less." This thought has helped me to not add the guilt of being faithless on top of what I was already experiencing.
"Faith does not make loss hurt less."--Nancy Guthrie
Another thought that I really appreciated was the reminder that I needed to tell myself the truth. Doubt, fear, lies, regret, guilt---all these thoughts were resonating throughout my mind, and I did not take the time to identify them, examine them, and test them. As a result, I ended up wallowing in ungodly thoughts and beliefs, which have taken my eyes away from God. One of these lies is that "I will need to figure out my own way out of this mess I'm in." As a result, I became even more driven, more controlling, more domineering in our home. If I had taken the time to read the Word, I would have been reminded over and over that he will never leave or forsake me (Joshua 1:5), that God is always with me (Matt 28:20), and that He will make my paths straight as I trust Him (Prov. 3:5, 6). Instead of taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), I allowed my thoughts to imprison me. This is a discipline that I did not practice, and it had it's consequences. I am just thankful that God reminded me again so I can take a different path the next time.
Lastly, I was reminded that only God alone will be able to fill up the empty places in my life. I loved the way she pointed out that our God is a master at turning what is empty into a vessel that overflows. Whether it be the chaotic empty void in Genesis 1:1 or a barren womb of a 90-year-old woman, He alone is able to bring life out of nothingness. In fact, she reminds me "God does his best work with empty."
"God does His best work with empty."--Nancy Guthrie
Last year, I have tried to fill my own emptiness. And you know what? It doesn't work simply because I am not God. My solutions may work for the moment, but they will never fully satisfy, nor will they bring the real hope and life that I am looking for. It just underscores the fact that I am not God. As Mrs. Guthrie commented, emptiness is not a problem to Him. It is not a state I particularly like, so I try to get away from it as quickly as I can, even if it means resorting to my own pitiful means. But rather than looking at emptiness as an obstacle, He sees it as an opportunity--an opportunity for me to experience Him in a deeper, fuller way than I have ever known before.
I thank God that I am slowly moving out of this immobilizing season of grief and am reconciling myself to the losses that I am experiencing. The moments of despair and sadness don't seem to come as frequently as they have in the past, but there are times when I still feel sad as I slowly work through the ramifications of adopting a special needs child. But I am also realizing that in those moments, I can allow myself to cry. I can ask Him to help me to examine thoughts and fears that hold my hostage and to instead replace them with truth. I can choose to trust Him to turn these empty places into places overflowing with His life and Spirit.
These are but three of the seven points that Mrs. Guthrie shares in her video. If you are walking through a season of grief of your own, or if you desire to minister to those who are grieving around you, I highly recommend checking it out. May the Lord not only get you through this time, but equip you to thrive in it.