Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Garden and grief, a beautiful place to be real

So I said in my last post that "I can't see the trees." It's true.  And you can't just snap your fingers and be teleported to the other side of grief.  I've only written a few times this year, but when I write, I don't hold back.  In my case, grief is about my brother taking his life at age of 47, and losing a dear friend to cancer a few months later.  Its true what's been said, you can't go around it, you must go through it.  

But I have a Great Shepherd leading me through the desert.  This is not about pulling yourself of by your own boot straps, or faking joy, or mustering up the "right" feelings.  It's about truth transcending our feelings, and being OK with both, truth and feelings.  It's about being real.

There is a movement in suicide awareness called Project Semicolon.  It is to signify to suicide survivors and those who are pressing on with mental illness to keep going.  Do not put a period on your story, there is more!

Once we get OK with real, we can begin to reach out and encourage others.  In time, we can minister even in our brokeness.  Actually, that is all we have to offer, because God says,  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

The song Even If by MercyMe is linked below.  The words resonate with me because he says how it's easy for him to encourage in concert when things are going well for him.  But he doesn't stop when things go bad... the story behind the song is good.  I also put a link in below for that.  I want to write only when there is HOPE typed out on the keyboard, even if its in pain...I want you to know I have hope.

Isaiah 40:11
"He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young."

This BLURRY SEASON doesn't mean I throw in the towel.  For me it has been an intentional effort to be in community that presses into God; to stay in God's Word even when numb; and to give myself permission to hold back  from gatherings when I need to, not entirely, but to know that is OK.

I've learned that I judge myself harshly by setting a standard of how I should feel, and be by putting markers on time.  Sometimes I judge myself for being happy, sometimes for being sad... When all along I need to "just be" and not figure it out.  Just "be with Jesus" or sometimes just trust that He is "being with me."

Learning to live "in the moment" has been a goal of mine for years, but God is helping me with that skill set in this season of my life.  God sees my heart, and He knows me in a way that no other can know me.  He has suffered and walked this earth - He feels with us, and prays for us knowingly.

I just finished a Bible study on 1 Peter with a sweet community of women who have walked along side me as I have laughed, literally fled the scene in tears, participated, and at times sat and wept quietly, but stayed.  I'm sure it has been awkward for them at times - AS IT HAS FOR ME! But God kept saying go and just "be."  God kept me in community,  kept me in His Word, and kept me from isolating.  Only God could do that.

Last night one lady said "It's so hard to believe that Adam and Eve gave up walking in the garden with God." 
 It. blew. my. mind.  

Why?! Because we can still walk in the garden, and I so often don't think I can in my grief.  He dwells in our hearts, He is with us - Emmanuel, and "the garden" is not a lost opportunity for us!  On good days and bad days we can "walk in the Garden" with God.  He said, "I will be with you always..." (Matthew 28:20)

John 1 summarizes Jesus' ever presence so well. 

"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

14 "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. "

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

God came and dwelt among us, so that we could dwell with Him!  Romans 8 is another of my favorite passages.  You can read it in full here

But I love these verses:
26" Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. "

37" No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Can grief make you feel separate from God? Yes!  But only Jesus was truly separated from God when He died on the cross.  He said "My God why have you forsaken me?"  He knew why, so that we would not have to be separated from Him.  And yet His pain was very real.  His separation was very real.  Beyond what we will ever comprehend!

As Raymond Edman, one of Billy Graham's mentors said, 

"Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light."

Our circumstances change, but they do not change the character of God.  He loves us, and loves for us to dwell with Him - even in pain...especially in pain.  He understands our lament.  The pain we surrender to Him can be used by Him.  

I'm falling forward into this pain and healing.  I'm falling forward into His presence every morning.  If you don't know where to begin, read Psalm 119, even take it slower, and write a few verses of it a day.  That in itself is DWELLING IN THE GARDEN.

I don't only listen to songs of lament, I have included a few of my favorites of lament, and also those that re-direct my thoughts to the character of our GOOD GOOD FATHER.

Even If by MercyMe

The story behind Even If

Though You Slay Me by Shane and Shane

1 Peter 5:10
10 "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."

Yearn by Shane and Shane

Behold by Hillsong Worship
1 John 3:1
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Worthy of Your Name by Passion

Where will our souls walk today?  In the Garden? Our bodies can walk through this world, and yet our souls can walk in the Garden with God.  When the spiritual and the physical blend, there is a new of just being at peace no matter what we are feeling.  Seems like a contradiction.  It is a contradiction that I want to lean into.  Letting Jesus hold us, dwell with us.

1 comment:

  1. Your words are always so wonderful,Julie.
    I was just reading some things you wrote back in 2015 that had encouraged me so much. I see you hurting so badly this past year, but see so much courage and strength that you draw upon from your Lord. God Bless you more ... and richly, Your words are strong for others to hang on to ... No one but Jesus Christ can really relate to how deeply you feel. Thank you for being real.