Luke 5:16 (NIV)
I stared out at the water and even through my tears could appreciate the beauty of the scene before me. The Father was generous with His magnificent display of autumn. On the water’s edge I pulled my knees up under my chin and wrapped my arms around tightly.
I focused upon the ripples as they started strong and gently relaxed the closer they came to me. It seemed to be one of those times that despite my own concerted efforts the faucet connected to my heart was turned to on and I seemed incapable of preventing it from running its course; I knew that eventually they would come to their end and I could pull myself together before going back inside.
My make-up long ago cried off I had headed outside as soon as I was able to get away. Each time I heard a noise behind me in the distance I would cringe preparing my heart for the well meaning approach of a kind stranger. I took a quick inventory of fake smiles and kind responses in reserve just in case I needed them. I was so thankful when each noise would fade and I remained only with the Lord.
I had to chuckle…partly at myself and partly at the Lord and the realization that He had had an inside scoop that I had just now become privy to. Prior to the women’s meeting I had strongly encouraged a friend to come knowing how much she needed it and how the Lord would be able to minister to her heart through what was shared. Little did I know that it was I who would end up being so touched and affected by the message.
Descriptions of the phases of grief were shared beautifully and authentically by a sweet sister who had lost her husband to suicide years ago. The loss of loved ones is an issue which must be contended with by many hearts within the body of Christ. Always painful, the ambience and festivities of the holiday season offer a unique flavor of grief.
I was reminded of the grief I walked through less than a year ago. Although my mother died in 2008, it wasn’t until then that I was able to face and work through the pain of losing her. Until this morning it had been awhile since I had felt the sting of heartache it offered. I was surprised at the flood of emotion that suddenly overwhelmed me.
Completely taken off guard by my own response I sat in the middle of the meeting and began to involuntarily sob. At that moment the previously adequately sized room of women grew smaller and I wished that I had sat farther back. I was fervently searching for the closest exit with my eyes all the while realizing that really my only choice was to sit there until it was over feeling vulnerable and exposed.
As soon as I was able I withdrew to a lonely place and prayed. I knew that it was only the comfort that the Lord could offer me that would bring relief to my soul. I was thankful for wise women of God who had enough discernment to understand that I withdrew because I just needed to be alone with the Lord.
The journey of healing after losing a loved one looks different for each traveler. There are times when the Lord is able to pour His love through the body of Christ in undeniable ways. There are other times however when what is most beneficial to the soul is simply some time alone with the Father. We must be mindful to extend grace to ourselves and others to allow room for both.
Father, help us to be sensitive to those around us who are hurting.