I had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend with my husband and family. I enjoyed being with family and friends for two holiday meals. It was a time of great blessing, talking and laughing, and loving my people. On Saturday, my husband and I took off on an adventure drive through the Smokies, then across the Cherohala Skyway. It was beautiful, even in the wintry hues of gray and grayer. Sunday was wrapped up in worship and joy.
And yet, I felt “off.” I wasn’t feeling truly happy. What on earth was wrong with me?
We’re planning a visit with the younger grandchildren this weekend, and will participate with them in the local Christmas parade. So much fun and excitement to come. To prepare for this visit, we decided to put up our Christmas decorations, and I realized I felt no joy in that thought.
What? No joy about all those memories tucked safely into boxes to be brought out once a year? What on earth is wrong with me? I asked, and my beloved agreed, to purchase brand new ornaments — nothing fancy, just pretty-colored balls to hang on the tree — to use instead of pulling out the boxes of memories. Normally, I’m the one adding each item to the tree, stopping to look at each ornament and recalling the memory of where it came from, why we have it, and what it means to my heart.
That simply doesn’t excite me this year. What on earth is wrong with me?
The fact is, nothing is wrong with me. I’m in a process of grief. Yes, my parents died over five years ago, but I still grieve their absence at times. Holidays especially. If you knew my mom, you know she loved all holidays, especially the gifting ones. Dad loved a gathering, regardless of the reason. I miss all they brought to the special days.
Earlier this year, my ex-husband died of cancer, and I’m grieving that. Huh? Why would I grieve an ex? Because at one time, he was my world. Together, we bore an amazing son. He was a part of my life for over twelve years, and I did a lot of growing up with him.
I’m grieving the hurt my son is feeling because of his father’s passing. I’m grieving his sorrow at his beloved pet’s death. Though my boy is a man fully grow’d, my heart hurts when his does. My mama-heart wants to hop on a plane and fly to him to wrap him up in my arms and both of us cry together.
I grieve a prodigal who has allowed things other than family to take precedence in his life. I am grieving all the possibilities that he has allowed drugs to take from him. I grieve the loss of relationship with him. I miss his impish smile and fresh joy.
Thus, I’m not pulling out the memorial decorations. Simply because right now, recalling some of those memories is very difficult and I’m choosing instead to look forward and live forward in joy. This year’s tree will be covered in silver, gold, and pale blue. And it will be the center of a beautiful and joyous home.
While I’m feeling this personal grief, I also see things happening in the world that are cause for concern. Not worry. Not at all. Just concern. I hear the groaning of a creation longing for its Creator. I see signs that point to the return of the Savior for His Bride.
The thing that is concerning in this is seeing that His Bride is utterly unprepared for Jesus’ return. The Bride’s gown is muddy and filthy. Her lamp is out of oil, the wick is gone. The fire is out, and she’s unconcerned about that fact. In fact, she’s in denial that it’s even possible.
God is revealing Himself day by day and we, the worldwide Church that is all believers, are missing Him. We don’t feel His call to holiness — the leaving behind of things that don’t please Him. We don’t want to let go of the things of this world in order to be completely His, and this saddens me.
With all this sadness, how on earth can I get happy again? It’s impossible, right?
Oh no. No, no, no.
I took the time off from the “normal” to examine myself and my feelings. I must first acknowledge those feelings: sadness, anger, pain, offense, and feel them completely with no denial of them. As I feel them, I will determine the source of them. I will recognize that my feelings are valid and worthy. Then, I will check to see if there’s anything I can do to change the source. That answer is no, by the way. We can’t change the past. I will use whatever time is necessary to process what I’m feeling, to allow the grief and sorrow to wash over me, shed some tears, and seek God in all of it.
I will work to learn what all these feelings mean to my current purpose. How can I use them to glorify God and encourage others? Finally, I will choose to use what I’ve learned to live forward into the future, working to build a legacy that I can hand over to others.
One thing I always try to remind you of is that your feelings matter to me, but most importantly, to God..
Another is that according to God, your heart that produces those feelings is deceitful. It’s critical to examine the feelings you’re having and figure out the source so you can deal with it. It’s not a good thing to get stuck in them and live there.
Visit the past, but do not set up camp
and build a house there.
Feel your feelings, then become intentional about doing something with them. Happiness will return as you do. Don’t be in a hurry, but don’t lollygag, either. It’s a balance. Lean into God for His wisdom and guidance, and He will walk you through the process as many times as you need. He is faithful like that.