About to attend another funeral this weekend (one of several within the last three weeks), it’s not exactly how one pictures themselves spending the holidays or starting off a new year. Ever. My heart goes out to the families of those that were lost and I know that this time of year is now marked with a new hurt that will linger with them for years to come. The grieving and healing process can at times feel overwhelming and beyond what we can handle. When chapters close, when things end, if you’re still breathing it’s not your end.
Endings always bring about new beginnings. The end of the holidays gives way to the beginning of a new year. The end of one job can mean the opportunity for a new one. The close of one friendship or ending of one relationship can release you into the opportunity for a new one. If you’ll take it.
I personally love the new year and fresh starts, although usually by this time (two weeks into the new year) a lot of people are already discouraged on how it has started out so far. Some people have already given up on what they were excited about just two weeks ago. It doesn’t take long for the newness of a fresh start to to wear off. Maybe that’s part of the reason that I’m not so much into new year’s resolutions, but I am wholeheartedly for goals and setting a vision, whatever that looks like. Enter the 30×30 list.
The power of setting a vision, for me, became powerfully real in my 30×30 list. This list of 30 things I wanted to do before turning thirty–a “bucket list” if you will–set me up for adventures I never thought would really happen and brought me out of a fog I never thought I’d be in in the first place. Watching the divine connections and encounters over the years that led to crossing off 29 of those 30 items (all before turning 30) is still enough to take my breath away. But those things never would have happened if I never set the vision and then given it to my Maker to make it happen.
Some things in my life at the time had to end in order for me to be set in a position for some of the new things to come. Setting something down or giving something up when you don’t know what you’re giving it up for or heading towards seems nearly impossible. I’m grateful for it now. I wasn’t then, but I definitely am now. Even today I find myself pausing to take a few breaths as some things are winding down and other opportunities are opening up. Fresh starts and new opportunities are exciting, but there is no denying that at times it can come with a sadness and a sting we would rather not experience.
But keep tip toeing forward. Keep stepping towards your fresh start. Set your vision and keep it set. After all, we’re only two weeks into the new year…
Cheers to 2015.
As an additional resource for those that may need an extra dose of encouragement, just thought I’d pass along an article I stumbled across on the subject of grief and loneliness and new beginnings. Take it or leave it. Enjoy.
By Joyce Meyer – audio teaching, Overcoming Grief and Loneliness.
I’m told that the number one problem facing people today is grief and loneliness. People encounter major losses in their lives, and sadly, many never get over them. When tragedy occurs and the hurt seems unbearable, Satan sees an opportunity to try to bring a family or an individual into permanent bondage. The death of a loved one, divorce or the severing of a close relationship can cause grief, and most people go through a grieving process. The key to victory is understanding the difference between a normal, balanced grieving process and a spirit of grief that will try to attach itself to the hurting person. One helps the grieving person get better with the passing of time; the other causes him to get worse and sink deeper and deeper into the pit of despair.
I believe that one of the reasons why people, especially Christians, get into bondage during these trying times is a lack of understanding about the grieving process. This process is a succession of events that may occur in a person’s life when something or someone that means a lot to them is suddenly no longer there. Obviously everyone doesn’t experience the same thing to the same degree, but we do have emotions that can be wounded and bruised and must be healed. Healing is a process that God walks His children through step-by-step, unless He performs a miracle.
Shock and denial are two of the first things a person may encounter when tragedy occurs. Actually, God uses them to protect us from devastation. To illustrate, consider an automobile’s shock absorbers. They’re designed to cushion the vehicle from unexpected bumps in the road. Without them, the car would fall apart from the violent blows encountered during its travels. People are often the same way. We’re traveling on the road of life, and most of the time we’re not expecting bumps or potholes. So when they suddenly show up, we’re not ready for them. The Holy Spirit—our God-given “shock absorber”—cushions the blow until we can readjust and adapt our thinking to accommodate the sudden change in the ride. Shock and denial are normal if they’re temporary; however, they become a major problem if people permanently refuse to face reality and learn how to deal with them.
The next thing people often feel is anger—at themselves. They begin to think of things they wish they would or would not have done that might have made the situation better or even prevented it altogether. Satan wants us to live with regret. There is no one alive who wouldn’t say, “I wish I hadn’t done that!” or “I wish I had done this.” Satan seeks to place blame, intending to throw us into a lifetime of guilt, condemnation and self-hatred.
The apostle Paul stated in Philippians 3:13, …one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. The word “straining” in the Amplified translation tells us that whenever we have to “press on” there will be opposition from the enemy.
Endings always bring new beginnings. Satan strives to keep us out of the new place that God has prepared. He wants to trap us in the past and cause us to live in permanent misery, which is what self-anger and self-blame will do.
People may also experience anger at the person who left them—even if they died. My aunt told me that after my uncle died, she’d beat his pillow at night and yell, “Why did you leave me?” Obviously, her intellect knew he didn’t purposely leave her, but her emotions were speaking. Emotions have a voice; when they’re wounded, they may react like a wounded animal. Wounded animals can be quite dangerous, and so can wounded emotions if they’re followed.
Grieving people need to know about the grieving process and some of the things they may experience such as not to be led by painful feelings. When a major loss occurs, this isn’t the time for a person to make serious decisions or deal with other issues that may produce anxiety or be emotionally upsetting.
Being angry with God is quite common. People frequently ask, “If God is good, all-powerful, and full of love for us, why didn’t He stop the thing that caused the pain?” This is where Satan seeks to build a wall between God and the hurting person. He seizes the opportunity to say, “God isn’t good, and He can’t be trusted.” However, we know according to the Word of God, the truth is not in Satan—he is a liar and the father of lies.
James 1:12-13 says, Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. Verse 17 goes on to say, Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].
In other words, God is good, and He cannot be anything else. Furthermore, He isn’t one way one time and another way another time. He doesn’t change. He is good, and that’s the way He is. But what about the original question? Since God is good and all-powerful, why didn’t He stop this thing before it brought all the hurt and pain? To be very honest, these are questions we don’t have completely sufficient answers for. First Corinthians 13:12 says, …Now I know in part (imperfectly)…. Trust will always require us to accept unanswered questions! We want answers to everything, but we must come to the place where we’re satisfied to know the One who knows and place our trust in Him. Being mad at God is foolish because He’s the only One who can bring the needed help and comfort to the grieving or bereaved person.
People also get angry with the devil. This is normal and even good if the anger is properly expressed. The only way to repay the devil for hurt and devastation in our personal lives is to aggressively and vehemently do the works of Jesus. Romans 12:21 says, …overcome (master) evil with good.
People experiencing tragedy often go through stages of emotional expressions of sobbing and hysteria. These may come and go when least expected. Even people who are normally quite unemotional may experience a great deal of emotion during times of loss. In general, people are afraid of emotions, and an uncontrolled display of these emotions is even more fearful. I encourage you to fear not because it will pass. Good understanding and a lot of help from the Holy Spirit will bring you victory through this kind of situation.
Confusion, disorientation and fear are also common. Depression and waves of overwhelming feelings are experienced by many, as well as physical symptoms caused by the emotional stress. I believe the key word in these situations is balance.
The Bible talks of how King David was feeling depressed, but he resisted it. He didn’t sink into it or get into the pit of despair. He described how he felt, but he made a decision not to live by his feelings (see Psalm 42:5-11 and Psalm 143). People have often confided in me how discouraging it is when others make them feel like their faith isn’t good enough during these times. I believe it takes more faith to go through something victoriously than to be delivered from it. There are some who experience complete deliverance from grief after a huge loss, but that doesn’t happen to everybody. There are others, and I might even say most of us, who go through very emotionally difficult times when tragic loss occurs. Those who are walking in faith come out of it, and they come out of it better than when they went in.
In closing, let me say, “Do not lose your hope!” If you are hurting right now due to a loss in your life, I want to tell you that a new beginning is in front of you. You may go through some things that you’ll never understand, but trust God to work them out for your good. What Satan intends for your harm, God can turn around for your good!
Ashlee Bratton, author of Life Before The Lottery: Living Beyond The Bucket is a professional photographer, freelance writer, and entertaining speaker with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in business administration.
Along with completing 29 of the 30 things on her 30×30 list, her writing contributions include numerous publications such as Vail’s EAT magazine, creating a 56 page Visitor Guide for a mountain ski town, blogging and guest blogging, being featured in multiple newspapers and e-zines, and various other projects.
She currently keeps her camera in hand in Southern Colorado, is a total foodie, and takes plane rides for fun.
Sign up to follow the journey at AshleeBratton.com.