This is one of those things we’re not supposed to talk about.
Going to dismiss that ideal and continue onward….
God has sent us an invitation.
Most certainly one of the strangest ones we have yet to receive.
It might as well be with paper and ink, as it was given that clearly in the spiritual sense.
It’s not an invitation we want, not even a little bit.
Yet it’s an invitation we desperately need to move forward freely and joyously.
An invitation to a process of grief.
I wonder if there is a little room in all our hearts — like an attic.
Things begin to accumulate there over time, all with the idea that “we’ll get to those later”.
On a rainy day, maybe we’ll rummage through all those things and take care of them.
But the rainy day seems to never come, and those things we place there to address later, never face the light of day.
The attic-room is typically an unkempt, unattended to room in our hearts.
Yet our wholeness is dependent on that room-with-a-unclear-role. It can’t be avoided forever. We must walk in, however apprehensively, and begin to sort through the cluttered memories.
This week we officially accepted our invitation. Although we had already given our RSVP. “We’re afraid, but we’re in, we’ll be there”.
As you may very well know, the traveling companion to our BIG yes’es for God, is more-often-than-not hardship and pain. By God’s grace, we’ve had our fair share of yeses in our 12-year-long married life, and the heart-attic has accumulated quite a bit of clutter.
So as we sat in a counseling room, entering our heart-attics together, pouring through the stories, the memories, the horrors and the glories….we allowed ourselves to be more deeply known to each other, to a fellow- sojourner (counselor), ourselves and God Himself.
When our counselor (and friend) looked into our grief-washed hearts and authentically said, “I’m so sorry”….
I got it.
The meaningfulness of the work we are doing here.
The power of being seen.
The gift of affirmation.
The healing power of telling your story.
I don’t think I could have understood the value of our ministry in counseling cross-cultural workers to the depth that I do now, if it wasn’t for this profoundly soul-impacting experience.
Being on the receiving end of these invaluable gifts is almost necessary to offer these gifts well to others.
So here we are friends, in this grief process with no boundaries, rules or predictability. We have no guidelines or date of expiry. What we do have is a long-suffering Father, well-acquainted with sorrow, who will guide us along the way. And the deep conviction that “The glory of God is man fully alive”, with an understanding that grief is an imperative part of our functioning humanity this side of heaven.
And while it feels terribly undoing, there is this flicker of hope as He leads us forward. And the real comfort in knowing He’s been down this road many, many times before.
“Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”
Dr. Earl Grollman