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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
—Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)
A time to laugh and a time to cry.
Every year we prepare for the traditional changes that occur with the different seasons – fall to winter, winter to spring, etc. We can also identify with the writer of Ecclesiastes when he talks about the seasons of life we go through. But we are not always ready to accept them, especially when that season exchange is out of sync with our expectations.
We want the pleasant things – we don’t want the unpleasant.
We don’t want to give up one to gain the other. We want life – not death. We want laughter and joy, not weeping and mourning. Yet both are necessary components to life.
I believe it is only within our difficulties, troubles and losses where we discover more about life and ourselves. When mentally, emotionally and spiritually wounded, we retreat from the world to find solace and direction. This isn’t just a time for introspection, however, but an opportunity to discover anew God’s great love and purpose for us.
When grieving the loss of my husband, there were times when I felt like a little child, my soul crying in depths devoid of sound to all except God. In those moments, I found myself held and comforted.
Grieving is a journey to heal the wounds of the heart and spirit
In our retreat and solitude, we arrive at a place where we need to lay our burden down, give up the struggle and rest. When we stop struggling, we gain peace.
Hope is an active journey
Hope actively and purposefully takes part in the healing process as we explore future options and possibilities. Each chapter in my book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, begins with a vignette from my own healing and growth journey, followed by information to apply to help the healing process. Here is an excerpt from one of those chapters.
Learning new skills requires determination, struggle and hard work. It seems at times that we push and push that proverbial stone and it doesn’t move. And then, one morning, we wake up and find ourselves sitting on top of it! We haven’t moved it; we haven’t gone around it; we have climbed on top and are on our way over and beyond!
In talking with a friend who was going through some tough times, I shared a page from my book, A Love So Great, A Grief So Deep, words I had written when my husband was dying. I wanted to continue to hope even when I knew the end was near.
“Hope is the effort to fly with wings not yet grown. If I don’t hope – don’t try – don’t struggle, there will never be the possibility of flying.”
Hope! It is a gift I cannot refuse. Belief. It is the assumption that God will catch me when reality doesn’t match my hopes and I begin to fall.
In order to fly, you will be required to exercise your wings. In order to fly, you need a willingness to “let go” of your fear of heights, and free fall, spreading your arms to catch the updrafts and float. In order to fly, you must believe and have hope that you can. That hope sustained me after his death and carried over into a new season for me.
There would be no life without hope – just an existence devoid of happiness and joy.
In the struggle we might get bruised and bloodied. But to live without hope is worse than struggling – flapping wings that take you nowhere.
Just like pushing that proverbial stone, whether it moves or not, we become strong in the effort. Flapping our wings make them stronger, capable of carrying us. I want to soar like the eagles. I always have. But in order to do that, I need to do the work required to get strong.
Hope energizes. It seeks new solutions as we learn from crashes what to do and what not to do.
Hope is action. It is moving forward even when the world is at its darkest.
Hope is believing there will be an end to the pain and struggle. There are good days ahead. While this may be a time of weeping, retreating and mourning, we know that we will not be there forever.
Grieving a loss takes time and effort. In the journey out of any ending, we can discover renewed purpose and meaning.
Here is what I wrote in my journal when I was ready to take charge of my life again:
“This morning as I sit from my new vantage point, I am captivated by the view extending before me, the options available to me. As I remember the dark, deep and narrow canyons, I am reminded that even there, patches of blue sky could be seen. When I had looked up, those canyon walls expanded, and I felt the power and love of my Heavenly Father as I received a new surge of energy and hope. And when the way out of those dark canyons of grief and sorrow seemed to disappear, God gave me toeholds, branches to grab hold of and hang on to until the path became clear once more.”
Fear grounds us – makes us miserable, resentful, and blaming. Fear can eat us up and spit us out like so much garbage!
Hope reaches upward. Fear drives us down into the ground. Hope is the wings that enable me to fly, every day.
As you continue to move towards a new beginning, hang onto hope when the going seems rough. You will make it through this. You will enjoy happiness again. You will live life with purpose and meaning once more.
Learning to Live Again in a New World
We need validation for the turmoil of thoughts and emotions we experience. But we also need the tools necessary to create a new beginning that is both satisfying and meaningful. My new book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, offers those tools to help work through the problems you might be facing.
It is a guide to help you through the ups and downs of grieving a significant loss. And it includes a study guide at the end for use with groups.