Life

Held: How To Engage Differently With Your Griefs

“Everything begins and ends with something held.”

– Didi Leavitt

Our hands take. They hold. They give away. They’re open for a reason because it’s our prerogative to choose what, when, why and how to take, to hold and to give away. And when we can’t do the first part, we get to choose how to experience our experience of it all and how to engage with our grief of what could have been.

It’s a murky process – this unraveling; this pulling back the pieces to reveal how you’re going through it all. I know I said I haven’t been much for peopling lately and this is still true. It’s not because I don’t want to talk about it. I do. But I’m not looking to be a sound byte. The people I will talk to will move on with their lives and I’ll still be where I was prior to the talk. I’m not looking to be a reflective conversation to look back on when they think about their week. This is real life. My life. But most of all, I don’t talk about it because it will always be a point of conversation today, tomorrow, next week… and I don’t want to lose good, honest friends because they find me exhausting. “Like, I’m not saying she shouldn’t, but can’t she talk about something else?” <<< say it with a Mean Girls movie voice. Yeah. That’s what I’m avoiding. Of course I won’t get to hear it, but I’ll know. So I guess I’ve saved us both some time.

You see, it’s easy to be there through a few conversations, but what happens when you realize that I want to talk about it a lot (you said that I can be an open book with you, after all)? I don’t want to be avoided. I don’t want to be unfriended. I don’t want to have new things to deal with. My heart’s recuperating so I don’t want to add more things to deal with relationally. Give me leave to breathe. So if you may be a friend who knows and may be getting salty with me because I haven’t been “vulnerable” or “open” with you concerning my heart (seriously rolling my eyes right now, exasperatedly) please realize that being there looks very different from what you may be used to. This isn’t a conversation that gets boxed up and bowed up and tucked away. This is everyday life. Not just a deep conversation to bookmark our interaction. Wouldn’t want you to sign up for something you’d quit on just when it gets…interesting…

To make it clearer just in case it got lost in translation, I want to talk about it, about everything, with someone who won’t walk away no matter how long it takes. I’m talking years here. And I am doing that. Thankfully, I’ve found some people (too few but really enough) to talk with. So I’m doing okay with my lifers.

Back to the post. Yesterday, I was remembering a song that used to make me weep in high school. If you were deep in your high school’s Christian Union and a fan of Family radio, then this was a song that you probably heard. If you weren’t and don’t know it, this song is still a treasure in unraveling the heart and process of grief and faith.

I remembered this song yesterday night as I was creating a Spotify playlist to blast through the house and it became fresher to me now more than ever. Still on the first verse. Still taking it in. Still here preparing myself for what I know comes after with the book and all. Inhala. Exhala. Repitir por favor.

It’s a continuation from my last post and I’m at the point where I’m looking at how I’m experiencing my experience. I’m looking at how I’m engaging my grief. The funny thing is, low key working on a book from 2013 means that I have volumes of half written ideas and yesterday night, while looking through some of my notes that didn’t make it to the book I just finished writing, I found some gems that will make the rest of this post. I’m hoping they can help you deal with your griefs, no matter what it looks like, just as they are helping me right where I am.

1. What vows or deep seated agreements have I made with the messages of my wounds?

First of all, wow! Talk about a time capsule knock out!

In my notes back then 2014, my answers were:

I’m complicated, a disappointment and not good enough. At the time, I felt that God would take David away from me (while we were dating because I felt less than and the reason for our problems) so I was always ready to let him go. I felt like I had it coming so I prepared myself. It’s the reason I saw the deferred wedding date the way I did. (Quick one, we postponed our wedding but that’s a loooooong story the next few lines will try to capture). I felt that I was complicated and ruining things so 2015 (new wedding day year) would be my last chance or nothing.

I was afraid of hearing what God had to say because I was afraid He would tell me I was not ready and that I was messing up or disappointing Him. So I worked on proving the opposite. That I could be better. That I could be a wife. I’m still learning to take criticism well. I never asked God how to be a good wife because I was afraid of Him mentioning my failures. I felt that’s all there was and any good points would be too few to make a difference. And I was willing to wing it. I was going to wing it in my marriage so my focus was entering because entering was winning half the battle. It was going to be my medal. That I finally made it. Now to make it work.

I’m reading this now and seeing just how far I’ve grown and also just how blind I was. My heart literally goes out to 2014 me. She was just tried of feeling like a failure in life and then adding what looked like a failure on her part in a relationship brought out something else in her. Yo! Hurt makes for the worst pair of glasses and when all you see is your pain, you lose sight of God. Also, xo Koki. Look atchu now! Haha 🙂

My answers now, as I look at that question even as I’ve been honest on this website, is: Don’t be quick to start a family. Don’t try again just yet. Don’t want it.

In part, I know fear has been at the baseline of those answers (especially the last one) but also, I just want to be okay. I don’t think that’s entirely bad. I really do just want to have some sense of wholeness before it all. If you get it, you get it. That’s it mostly.

Still working through this. Everyday. With God. I still stand by my request to not receive yálls empty promises or encouragements that I’ll have a baby/family/whatever. Look, if you look at it, what your telling me is mostly for you. It’s to make you feel like you’re helping me. Thank you, but I don’t need it because I know I will have kids and a family. And even that is it’s own Kinder Surprise so let’s not even get into that. So if you feel moved to tell me this piece of encouragement, just save it. Please. I’m begging you. Say it in your prayers and save us both an awkward moment. Thank you in advance 🙂

2. What awareness of love am I lacking here through this?

Marianne Williamson is the originator of this thought and I think it to be true. That in every situation, what is always lacking is our awareness of love.

In my experience, the most recent awareness of love that I got was from a sermon I shared on this post. I did not, for the life of me, think God was sorry for what happened. I didn’t think He caused it, and I guess a part of me knew He was sorry, but I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear it. How badly I needed to realize that God truly is and was sorry. It made sense. How He was present and what He was speaking in a foreign tongue. He wasn’t just close. He was sorry. He was weeping and holding me. He still is. God is so sorry. And I see the Bible through that lens now. We always want God to be a warrior King and He is. No doubt. But sometimes, God is a nurse to us. A healer patching our wounds and making sure we’re well, until we’re well.

I see how we gloss over Christmas and the birth of Jesus and skip past the women weeping because Herod killed their babies. But God didn’t skip past it. He wept too. And oh how I love that the Bible says it like it is. Rachel refused to be comforted because her children were gone. Yes! Will she be comforted? Yes. After some time, the pain will dial down to an ache and then to a painful memory. Later, the pain will fade away and a quiet smile will sum it all up. And God will wash clean her ashy head because of sorrow and adorn her with beauty and joy. But she has to go through to get through.

Remember what I said earlier? You can’t long for me to give birth to baby Jesus (metaphorically speaking) so you can skip through my weeping for my child. Don’t point to Jesus (metaphorically speaking) and tell me to not cry. How can I not when my child would have been here too? Weep with me now. Like God is. Heal with me now. Don’t point to the resurrection (or to new life that will come) and not let me weep for the Christ (metaphorically speaking) that I lost. It stings. I wish they were here. I miss everything. Weep with me. This isn’t Easter. This is real life! Don’t urge me to skip steps to get to Easter Sunday. Good Friday hurts. Holy Saturday hurts. Weep with me now. And celebrate with me when new life comes. But let me weep! Oh, I bless God for the words of the Bible! He doesn’t skip through to the good parts. He is Emmanuel even through the hard stuff that people would rather skip past. Hallelujah! He wept when Jesus died willfully because they were in it together – Him, Spirit and Christ. It cost them all to save us all.

I think in closing, I’m taken back to a scripture my husband picked out to illustrate something at a pre-marital class we were involved in around 2016.

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within the innermost part of your house;
Your children will be like olive plants
Around your table.”

Psalm 128:3 AMP

I won’t get into the layers of meaning in that bit of scripture. I’ll only look at it from the context given. As I was saying earlier, we took a break from this year’s premarital class. Thankfully. We needed oxygen. We needed to breathe. We needed to be okay. We were going to tackle the same topics we did, and maybe without realizing it, this scripture would have been a tear jerker and fresh for us for obvious reasons. It came to mind when I saw this scripture in my book notes from 2014/2015 right under a title called this season.

“Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”

Habakkuk 3:17-19 AMP

This scripture has taken on new meaning for me. It is the very reason for this post and it’s where I am. Most of last week and maybe many months before was spent realizing that nothing is a right. Everything is a privilege. Oh God! Yes it is! Even starting a family. Even keeping friends (something that has suffered this year recently with all that happened). Children are not a right. They’re a privilege. Friends are not a right. They’re a privilege. People making time for you, helping you, that’s not a right. It’s a privilege.

I know I talked about how fig trees are always fruiting and always provide food and shade, even called them the giving tree here, but I’ve learned becoming a mother isn’t always as automatic as a fig tree that’s always fruiting. Bearing olives or grapes on vines as Psalms 128:3 intimates – not automatic. Habbakuk 3:17-19 illustrates that.

But is there grace for the process? Yes. Grace to stand and be strong? Yes. Grace to go through? Yes. Emmanuel, God with us, has become the most tangible thing to me this year. I know how to walk and how to stand and how to thrive in thin and hard and high places. I know how to breathe where oxygen is scarce. I know what it means to hold and be held. And dear God, what a privilege! What a privilege. Though the product of the olive fails (breathes in deeply), yet will I praise You Lord!

“All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing.”

― Marianne Williamson

xo from the bottom of my heart,

  • Reply
    Mary
    December 4, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    This. This is everything.

    “You can’t long for me to give birth to baby Jesus (metaphorically speaking) so you can skip through my weeping for my child. Don’t point to Jesus (metaphorically speaking) and tell me to not cry. How can I not when my child would have been here too? Weep with me now. Like God is. Heal with me now. Don’t point to the resurrection (or to new life that will come) and not let me weep for the Christ (metaphorically speaking) that I lost. It stings. I wish they were here. I miss everything. Weep with me. This isn’t Easter. This is real life! Don’t urge me to skip steps to get to Easter Sunday. Good Friday hurts. Holy Saturday hurts. Weep with me now. And celebrate with me when new life comes. But let me weep! Oh, I bless God for the words of the Bible! He doesn’t skip through to the good parts. He is Emmanuel even through the hard stuff that people would rather skip past. Hallelujah! He wept when Jesus died willfully because they were in it together – Him, Spirit and Christ. It cost them all to save us all.”

    What hope do we have if we deem our sorrows unfit for the feet of Jesus? Who else is strong enough to carry this burden, and us too? To love in sorrow and grief is to hold on to a future where our joy is finally made full, while never losing sight of a present where our barely beating hearts lie broken in our hands. One does not negate the other. He is no less God in the broken than in the beautiful. Because He is a God who makes the broken beautiful.

    You really are a flower blooming in the desert. Privileged to call you friend. <3

    • Reply
      Koki
      December 5, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Oh gosh, yes Mary! Yes! He makes it all beautiful. Reminds me of you sharing once how God loves our burnt toast. Never forgotten that. Never ever. Blessed to have you as a friend as well Twinkie 🙂

  • Reply
    Jackie
    December 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    ”In my experience, the most recent awareness of love that I got was from a sermon I shared on this post. I did not, for the life of me, think God was sorry for what happened. I didn’t think He caused it, and I guess a part of me knew He was sorry, but I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear it. How badly I needed to realize that God truly is and was sorry. It made sense. How He was present and what He was speaking in a foreign tongue. He wasn’t just close. He was sorry. He was weeping and holding me. He still is. God is so sorry. And I see the Bible through that lens now. We always want God to be a warrior King and He is. No doubt. But sometimes, God is a nurse to us. A healer patching our wounds and making sure we’re well, until we’re well.”

    I relate to the above statement a lot. I came to realize that this is what my heart so badly needed and still needs to know and believe.

    • Reply
      Koki
      December 5, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      All the hearts Jackie. And hugs. <3 Right there with you.

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