Finding God's Shalom in Grief

by Christine Sine

by Shelby Selvidge

by Shelby Selvidge

by Shelby Selvidge

That first month my dog curled at my side as I cried myself to sleep holding your sweater every night until your scent had faded from it. The second month I lay silently in the hammock watching the birds each morning as the tears slid down my cheeks. Seven months have past now and somedays I still grieve.

I lost something when you drove away that day. Our dreams that so perfectly seemed to fit together. The way when you spoke of your ideas it gave me hope that my dreams would come true too. The swing you promised to make me out of the old tree in you backyard. That you would be by my side if I ever decided to visit my Dad whom I have never known. Our dreams of getting married you spoke of with a twinkle in your eye and an excitement that was catchy. My dreams of having a forest wedding and walking down the isle to your loving gaze staring at me. Your promise that we’d marry someday and that ‘everyday you choose me’. Dancing to music when no one was around,  water gun fights, sitting by the fire talking for hours, long walks in the park being silly, our favorite crackers and cheese, and all the romantic words that somehow flowed naturally out of your mouth without even trying, and just the way you looked at me and your eyes seemed endlessly full. I lost many things that day but mostly I lost the person I felt truly knew me and understood me, and still loved me. Someone who believed me to be capable of all of my wildest dreams.   I lost my best friend, who saw me for who I truly am flaws and all and still believed me to be amazingly beautiful beyond comparison.  I lost something that I am not sure I will ever get back.

Whether you have lost some one to death, moving, falling out of touch, divorce, breakup, whatever the cause of the loss of relationship you have lost something and that is hard. Sometimes it may not be someone but something- maybe a loss of childhood, a season, or a piece of yourself. Grief is the natural reaction to loss.  And grief can not be rushed, jumped over, skirted under, or walked around. Grief must be walked through and the feeling of the loss must be felt to continue life.  Feelings and wounds not dealt with will inhibit us from growth, healthy relationships, new opportunities, and most importantly fully experiencing and dwelling in God’s love.  As uncomfortable and time consuming it is “the best way out is always through” as Sarah Dessen wrote in one of her novels in which a young girl was dealing with depression.  Her words are true the best way out is always through.

The beautiful part of going through the hurts of loss and sitting with it is God’s grace and goodness amidst those times. He is so gentle and loving towards us. Upon remembering a particularly challenging time I had as a child I asked Jesus to reveal his presence there in that moment to me. I saw him holding my small child body as his wings covered me with his comfort and protection. This is a beautiful image of what God is doing as we go through the pains of grief. He is there with his wings over us and his arms surrounding us with comfort and strength. When I remember God’s goodness in my hardest times I am in awe of the simple yet extraordinary care he took in giving me just what I needed.  I challenge you as you go through the loss, grief, and the challenges of this life that you don’t rush it. Sit with it and allow the feelings to come-God won’t allow them to crush you.  Give him the opportunity to meet you in those moments of grief. Ask him to reveal his Shalom to you in those moments- what he is doing and what he is speaking.

I leave you with a quote from Andy Raine and then a prayer from Shane Claiborne’s book of Common Prayer.

“Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief. Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for your unspoken words. Unfinished conversation will be resolved by him. Be not disturbed. Be gentle with one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often. Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.”

Lord, as the seasons turn, creation teaches us of grief, patience, and renewal. Make us good students of these rhythms that we might not hurry the work of grief but receive the gift of your presence in our time of need. Amen.

This post is part of our October theme Living Into The Shalom of God.

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