My season of life and the daily death toll of this insidious virus has brought to mind the process of grief and the importance of how we deal with our grief. In one of the final chapters of
I read this fascinating passage~
"In ancient Judaism, the people would enter the temple by going up the stairs and in through the right side. But for an entire year, after losing an immediate family member, you would enter through the left side where people were exiting. This was an indication to everyone that you were in a season of mourning. People knew to greet you with comfort and kindness and consideration for what you were facing.
Though we don't have these kinds of defined indicators of the presence of loss, there is one sure way to know loss is part of someone's life-they are breathing."
Do we not all struggle with grief and forgiving? Long ago, I had someone tell me they could forgive me, but they would never forget. Is it possible to forget? Perhaps we can forget the small things, but those REALLY BIGGIES--how do you forget? When something has altered your life, can you really forgive and forget? I am pretty certain, only God is able to forget once He has forgiven us. The rest of us are left with events which shape who we become in the aftermath of tragedy, trauma, and loss. What we do with those memories--that is what is important.
When we think we have forgiven and forgotten, we may find our heart may have developed a shell of protection to prevent any possible reoccurrence of the pain. We may have developed a "Hardening of the Heart." With this hardening, there is a struggle to not become bitter. "Bitterness doesn't have a core of hate, but rather a core of hurt. Bitterness isn't usually found most deeply in those whose hearts are hard but rather in those who are most tender. Being bitter shouldn't be equated to being a bad person. It's most often a sign that a person with great potential for good filled the emptiness of their losses with feelings that are natural but not helpful in times of grief." We can forgive, and not forget--but instead use what God has allowed to further refine and sanctify us. The choice is always ours.
One of the by-products of great grief becomes the propensity to protect our hearts from any more pain. We shy away from relationships which might lead to another round of grief. This is the denial of hope in the quest for control. I am guilty of focusing on the moment instead of believing in the big picture. I forget God has a plan---a plan not to harm me, but to give me hope and a future. My gut reaction to pain is don't allow that to happen again--put up the barriers, post the no trespassing signs, and order a full stop when confronted by the potential of more pain. It is a denial that God knows best---I should seek His ways---follow His lead and trust Him. It is the age old struggle of Who will I allow to sit on the throne? The polite refusal to acknowledge who knows best.
This book is one of a very few which I will keep and reread from time to time. Such a great book--for any kind of grief, pain, loss, struggle. A reminder God is in the business of healing our wounds and softening our hearts. He is faithful.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope."