Deep Grief

deep grief

While I can’t personally speak of the grief associated with physically losing a child, parent, sibling or best friend yet, I can speak to the grief of divorce. As both a child of it and one of my own, I can relate to that pain. Both divorces I didn’t want. Both divorces left me at the mercy of other people’s choices.

Some wonder why I grieved like I did through my own because of the way he treated me, but I still did. I grieved the loss of a dream, the loss of my will, the loss of the life I thought we would live, the loss of a man I loved whether I should have or not. I still did. I grieved the loss of his family whom I had grown to love. I grieved for my girls, I already knew the life long struggles they would encounter because of it. The loss of my marriage hit me deeper because I was determined to stay married through anything. I was willing to fight for it, and he left….without a struggle or a tear. It was devastating to my self worth, tender heart, and desire to honor my commitment of marriage.

It’s been four years since my divorce and I thought I would share how I felt and some of the things that I did during my deep grief. There seems to be a lot of grief around me right now. Three deaths and a funeral this past week and my heart is heavy with loss. No one escapes grief. It comes in many forms. The emotional or physical loss of someone you love, a dream you had, or a change that alters what you had originally hoped for will need to be grieved. If this helps one person to know they aren’t alone or strange in how they feel or deal with grief, it will be worth it.

My physical grief was such that I lost 20 pounds that first year. I had no appetite and excessive thirst. I couldn’t get enough water and didn’t want any food. Nothing sounded good. I ate to live for the first time in my life. Normally, I love to eat and look forward to my next meal. The food I did eat wouldn’t stay long. I was physically ill from my emotional pain. I could feel it. I had physical pain in my chest and queasiness in my stomach. I still get the same way when sad, nervous, or going through a rough time.

I never missed a day of work. Work gave me purpose and routine was helpful during that time. My boss made it clear that if I needed to stay home for emotional reasons, they would understand. If I had skipped and stayed home, I felt like my sadness would have been worse. Alone, in the house we shared, alone or with the kids, didn’t help. I went to work every day and poured through the Bible between patients. I clung to Bible verses and sought God like I never had. I read and read and read. I would shut my office door sometimes and cry. When time to reset passwords would come, I would use words like “surrender”, “godisfirst”, “remember”, “remain”, and “godislove”. If I had to type a phrase over and over again, it might as well be some of these. I needed the constant reminders. I still do this.

I started to walk every day on my lunch break. I already had anxious thoughts constantly racing through my mind, at least my feet could try to keep up with them rather than sitting still with my heart pounding. I felt like my heart raced whether I was moving or sitting still. Walking and fresh air helped. I still look forward to my lunch time walks. Sometimes I pray silently or out loud while I walk, sometimes I fill my headphones with music. Depends on my mood. It helped and still does.

I prayed on my face first thing every morning on my bathroom rug. I cried more tears than I knew possible. I dry-heaved. I questioned. I surrendered. And, I ultimately, accepted. None of that makes what I deal with today easy. But, what I learned to do while grieving does still help me today. It also gives me HUGE compassion for others who have felt similar pain.

I plugged into a women’s Bible study small group, leaned on them, and gained prayer warriors. I started to write and summoned the courage to share. I decided to write about the love I craved in hopes it would touch others like it touched me. Writing about His love helps me. The love that never walks out, demeans, betrays, or rejects. The love that never fails. I knew I needed it desperately, and still do.

Grief doesn’t end, it changes. I still deal with issues because of the divorce. I’m aware that I always will. I’m also certain I will encounter more grief as this life continues. My prayer is that what I’ve learned will help me through those times. And, that I can support others through theirs.

May His Love surround us.

Same Faith, New Reason

missing

I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. I’m a product of SDA schools. Elementary, high school, and even colleges….I was raised a certain way. I’ve struggled. I struggled with the legalism that I felt was an inherent part of our faith. The unconditional love and grace of God was missing for me. As my relationship with God continues to grow and I get to know Him better, I see how legalism breaks His heart every bit as much as refusal to obey.

Keeping the Sabbath growing up wasn’t a heart thing for me, it was required, plain and simple. We had very specific rules that we had to follow that felt like nothing short of ridiculousness to me. As I’ve come full circle, misunderstood, felt misled, realized what was missing, gone to other churches, found what was missing, and returned for myself, I’ve come to a very different and beautiful realization about our faith.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we get accused of harping on the seventh day Sabbath. In my personal journey, I’ve come to realize that what feels like harping to others, is just us not ignoring it. We recognize it. We acknowledge it. We strive to keep all ten commandments, instead of just the nine. This makes us different, so we find ourselves having to explain it quite a bit, which sounds like harping to those who don’t agree. We REMEMBER the seventh day to keep it holy just like it says to in the 4th commandment. And, yes, this is different. But, if “Thou shalt not lie” was ignored by most and one denomination decided to take it under their wing, they’d be accused of harping on that. Those “Sabbath keepers” would turn into those “Not liars”. Doesn’t make sense.

Most people don’t argue that the others shouldn’t be kept. Because I do still find it relevant and just as important as the other nine, I strive to keep it. There seems to be quite a bit of hostility over this belief because it’s different and challenges how life is set up for most people these days. I understand the challenge. But, what I don’t understand is how it can be dismissed and shrugged off as unimportant so easily. It’s neatly tucked right in the middle of all the other commandments that are collectively agreed upon as important. Why is it left out? Why has it been disregarded?

Will I keep it perfectly? No. Will I keep any of the commandments perfectly? No. Have I? No. That’s why Jesus sent His Son to die for us because we are UNABLE to keep God’s law perfectly. He knew we needed a sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice. This is why we don’t sacrifice animals anymore to atone for our sins. He satisfied that. The perfect Lamb fulfilled the law. He did not abolish the law. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, please keep all the commandments, except the 4th (now that Jesus has died).

Even Jesus kept the Sabbath. What broke His heart and caused Him anger was how the Pharisees “kept” it. Looking to accuse Jesus of anything, they got angry when He healed someone on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:1-6). Are you kidding me?? They couldn’t heal anyone on any day of the week! Their hearts were in the wrong place. Jesus kept the Sabbath and He kept it perfectly. Just like the other nine commandments. He lived without sin and died for our sin, so that we can be found blameless in the eyes of our Father. In light of this truth, I will still attempt to obey.

If you obey my commandments, you will live in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commandments, and in that way I live in His love. I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete. John 15:10-11 (GW)

I believe obedience is God’s love language. If our hearts are right and surrendered to Him, all we WANT to do is what He asks us to do. Nothing more, nothing less. And, this brings us joy. When I stand face to face with my Creator, my Savior, I will have more peace knowing that I at least tried rather than ignored anything He has asked me to do.

True love WANTS to honor. I am fully convinced of the Seventh day Sabbath. I am not fully convinced on how to keep it. I think that’s personal between you, God, and what feels right for your family. What brings you peace. I do think it’s a special day and a gift, just like all of God’s commands are. I am aware that Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” in Mark 2:27.  He said this when he was, once again, extremely irritated with the Pharisees for calling Him out for picking grain to eat on the Sabbath! Beyond frustrating because their hearts were all wrong. This is how I felt growing up, beyond frustrated, because my heart was all wrong regarding the Sabbath.

God rested on the seventh day of creation, blessed it, and made it holy (Genesis 2:2). He asks us to rest on the seventh day and remember it (Exodus 20:8). Who doesn’t want a rest? A spiritually appointed rest? A divine excuse to stop what you’re doing, reflect on Him, spend time with your loved ones, relax, help and love on others, and trust God to provide. That sounds amazing! Not at all like a burden or an obligation. A requirement that I WANT to sign up for! Like the naps we despised as children and beg for as adults.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’ll happily go to church any day of the week. I love church. I love church service. I love praise music. I love being with other believers who love Jesus. I have no fundamental issue going to church on a Sunday, but because of my own personal study, I do have a fundamental reason for remembering the seventh day to keep it holy. And, that is Saturday. In others churches, I found the love and grace, but the 4th commandment was missing….Something was always missing.

I think God knew this commandment in particular would be forgotten or done away with. I think that’s exactly why He started this particular commandment with “Remember” as opposed to “Thou shalt not”. Do you think it would make a difference? Do you think if He had put “Thou shalt not forget the Sabbath day” like the others that more people would take it seriously? Interesting thought. Nonetheless, He put “Remember”. So, I will do just that. I will try to keep all ten. I have failed. I will continue to fail. But, I will not stop trying. Because I love Him and I trust Him and I think my willingness and desire to obey pleases Him. Humbly attempt to keep His Word and fully rely on His grace in my weakness is all I can do with a love like this.

Something was always missing to me, but now I view our faith as the total package. It focuses on Jesus, His Word, and what He asks us to do. We follow the Bible, all of it (try to). Lean on Jesus as our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, and look forward to His soon return with excitement!

If this article leads to anything on your part, I pray it’s to study for yourself. I definitely plan to as well. What does the Bible say? Pray about it. Ask God if it matters. In my opinion, if anything matters to God, it should matter to us. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t.