“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
We find ourselves within the chapters of Ecclesiastes. The seasons of life are demonstrated everywhere in the physical world and we identify with them. But making the transition from one season to another isn’t always easy. 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 in order to live life to the fullest.
Perhaps it is only within our difficulties, troubles and losses that we are able to discover more of ourselves.
When we are 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 and our need for Him. As He gently walks beside us in our grief and pain, we begin to feel His spirit strengthening ours.
When I was grieving the great 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, and in those moments found myself picked up and comforted by Him. 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 in the comforting arms of our Lord. In acceptance we gain peace.
Hope is an active Journey – Hope is a Choice
Hope is actively and purposefully taking part in the healing process as we explore options and possibilities. In my book, “Healing the Wounded Heart,” I share vignettes of from my healing and growth journey. Perhaps you will recognize some of your own journey here.
“Learning anything new requires struggle, work and determination. It seems at times, however, that in the process we continue to push a proverbial stone that won’t move. And then, one morning, we wake up and find ourselves sitting on top of that stone! We haven’t moved it – we haven’t gone around it – we have climbed on top and are on our way over it!
“That’s how I feel this morning. I have reached the top! I’m not sure how I got here – but here I am. Every morning I have written about my struggle to believe, make sense of what has happened and move forward. It was a new skill I was developing as I grieved my loss.
“And now I sit on top of this mountain, my proverbial rock and look back and see the black canyons and deep abysses and steep trails that had challenged me. Now I see what I couldn’t see while climbing those often treacherous paths: the guardrails that God put up for my protection; the “angels” He sent to comfort me and the green pastures that were sweet resting places along the way. He put people in my life to assist and support me – to just “be there” for me. He provided protection, love and strength to endure.
In my times of solitude and retreat, I didn’t just journal about my loss. I took my Bible and met my God every morning in my reading and my writing. Gradually peace replaced pain, hope replaced despair. Even when the road seemed endless or too steep and I wondered how I would make it through the day, I moved ahead with resolve and the assurance that I wasn’t alone – God was with me. He would never leave me. For God never does leave us; it is we who leave Him.
Whatever the loss, grieving takes time and work. But in the process, we have the opportunity to make many new discoveries that might otherwise remain hidden. I ended that day’s journal entry with the following:
“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 walls expanded and I felt the power and love of my Heavenly Father and I would receive 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 toe-holds, branches to grab hold of and hang on to until the path became clear once more.”
Perhaps you are experiencing the pain of divorce, a life fractured by anger and misunderstanding, a chronic illness that forever robs you of the life you knew, or just the deep sorrow that you will not have the opportunity to realize your dreams. But we don’t have to remain in that ending.
With hope we can move forward to a happy new beginning.
Hope is action – It is moving forward even when the world is the blackest. Hope is believing there will be an end to the pain and struggle. There are good days ahead. Hope knows you are never alone – unless it is your choice.
While we may be in our time to weep, retreat and mourn, we know that we do not need to stay there. In the journey out of that ending we can find great blessings, renewed purpose and meaning.
Marlene Anderson, LMHC, NCC