Friday, December 28, 2007
Giving Words to Grief
”Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up o’er the wrought heart and bids it break.” - Macbeth
Grief visited me in a torrent on Christmas. I was expecting difficulty, but I received an emotional mugging. I felt as if grief dragged me down into a pit that can only be named despair. I struggled with it and felt as helpless as a fish out of water, lying in a puddle of my tears. My feelings were far more profoundly sad than those that visited me at the funeral. I was frankly surprised at the sound of my heart cracking again.
I fear Macbeth's words are true; if I do not express my grief in this manner, my heart will break never to be whole again. The word I offer to describe this emotion is "cheated." I feel cheated out of the love of my life. I feel cheated out of the joys of life that I have had, especially at this blessed season. I just simply miss my love. This may be as close to anger as I have experienced so far.
There is also a prolonged sense of foreboding that lies near the border of panic. It’s not unlike the feelings of flight I had as a child, spending the night with my cousin. We would play all day, our minds adrift in some fantasy, but at sunset something would come over me. The only way I could describe it was "homesickness." My aunt would push back my sweaty hair and feel my forehead for a temperature, but there never was one. I felt sick all over, and I wanted to be elsewhere. The place I was staying was safe, good, clean and welcoming, and my aunt’s food was always great, but I just wanted to be home. I feel like such a stranger here without Tammy. I feel odd in almost every circumstance of my familiar life.
I was reminded by a friend who has traveled this road to ask God to reveal what He is doing. So I asked the Lord to show me what He is doing that I may not care to see or want to find comforting. Revelation Chapter 19 describes Jesus returning on a majestic white horse. His name is said to be "Faithful and True." He is most certainly that. In a quiet place I find Him faithful and patient with my whirlwind of bitter emotions. He is true to never leave me or forsake me. I have always believed that God speaks, even if I do not have a clue what His words mean. He speaks, even though His words can be like explaining quantum physics to a three month old child.
When God answers my questions, He doesn’t always offer definitions. He speaks through a remembered verse. He speaks through simple phrases or thoughts I know didn’t originate with my mind. He speaks with love and understanding. He has spoken in firm and frightening clarity, but this time He answered me by sitting with me and letting me know He was there. He brushed away my grief and covered my sulking frame in His peace. He eased the pain of my soul. He did what answers could not, God came near.
Then I remembered, that is what my faithful and true God does. He comes near. I know now how people are dragged into the dungeon of despair. I know why anger and hurt can so easily rule our lives. I know better how to fight back when grief wants to mug me and drag me away. I know I still have a choice. Grief may well have the power to do all I’ve described and more, but it cannot lock me in a prison of despair. I alone hold that key. God made it so. I have been given the keys that lock or unlock my own prison cell. I have the power to choose. Thank God there is still in me something that yearns to be free.
Thank you, Faithful and True!