For almost seven years I have been struggling to reconcile myself to the life I have now been given. When loss enters the picture, everything changes. You think everything will go on as it was except now there is an empty chair. So, you shuffle around, rearrange the furniture and go back to what you were doing. Nope. It doesn’t work like that. At least it hasn’t for me. Oh, for a while I thought I could carry on as usual without running into walls. I came away from that experience needing stitches.
Nope. Once you lose the love that was returned to you by that person who sat across from you, you wake still in your own chair but everything else is gone. And, the treachery of it is you’re the only one who knows it. Everyone else has rearranged the furniture and gone on with it. As they should. They have their own battles ahead.
You do not recover from grief, you absorb it. It bores into you seeking a place to call its own. Usually that place turns out to be right next to your heart. Grief barges in and demands to be made useful, like a sneeze expels dust or a fever warns of illness. What is grief’s purpose? That’s the tricky thing. Grief can morph into anything you allow. Use it to perfect bitterness, or make its razor-sharpness a prison, no one in, no one out or, maybe, allow it to become your identity. I’m here to confess to you, I’ve allowed it to do all those things to me. Grief has been like a dog trying to lay down. It turns circles in one direction and plops down, only to get up and turn circles in the opposite direction and plop down again.
Transparency here: With my mama’s death in October, grief has been up circling my heart and plopping down on it like a Saint Bernard.
So, what is one to do? Where does that leave me? How can I live with my grief without it destroying me? Yep, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Well, here’s my ten-cent answer: Fight hell! Literally. Take the biggest, heaviest Bible you have and beat satan’s poisonous fingers away from your grief. The enemy of God wants nothing more than to keep those of us living with grief defeated by grief.
You may be wondering why I titled this essay ‘Contentment’ since I’ve mention nothing about it thus far. Well, here’s the deal. In order to use grief to its maximum purpose, you must make peace with it. It won’t go away, no matter how many pillows you put over your head. However, I’m coming to realize that grief is as much a part of living as it is of dying. It’s part of the fabric of life. And, the greatest tool we have in our spiritual arsenal to tame the restlessness of grief, is contentment. Notice I didn’t say to tame grief we must become deliriously happy. For me, happy has left the building. Contentment is the battle-worn version of happy. Contentment takes a deep breath, tilts its face toward the sun and waits for instruction. Contentment is willing to go, do, be whatever and wherever God leads and be okay with it. Sound familiar? If not, check out the book of Philippians.
In October 2013 grief entered my life and stayed. Every morning I have to walk around that empty chair. Please, don’t feel sorry for me. Cheer me on. Pray for me and others you know living with empty chairs. Pray contentment finds a home.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got today. Be the best you.