Truth About Loss and Grief

July 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

My wife and I have experienced loss and grief and have watched a number of others work through various types of grief.  Whether losing a job, a child, suffering through an accident; life is full of times of loss, pain, grief, and uncertainty.

Although a deep subject written about exhaustively by a myriad of authors, three things seem true to me and are not talked about much:

1. Everyone is going to experience loss and grief.

The question is how we mitigate risk and how we deal with the physical and emotional fallout when it happens.  Outside of the “don’t-be-stupid” kinds of common-sense decision making, mitigating risk to avoid potential loss is an empty pursuit.  Many people try to sanitize life.  They expend incredible amounts energy wrapping their lives up in bubble-wrap trying to avoid the inevitable.  Many support government regulating everything to prevent anyone from getting hurt.  They miss out on adventure as they seek insulation from potential pain.  They can’t accept the fact that risk is one of the things we are created to take and make life a joy to live.  When loss and grief hit, these people are ill-prepared to work through it.

2. Everyone has brokenness.

Sin comes with brokenness.  We are born into it.  Depravity comes with damage and malfunction.  Those of us who are Christ-followers have an “Old Man” that is riddled with this and a “New Man” that is healed of these things.  We are supposed to put off the old man and put on the new.  This is hard without loss and grief, which leads me to the third truth:

3. Loss and grief do not break people.  Grief exacerbates brokenness.

As we have experienced difficult times along with the side-effects that come with them and as we’ve watching others suffer through grief, I have noticed that there is a big difference between natural pain and unnatural pain:

Some things in life are inevitable and natural.  Death, taxes, disappointment, loss, and grief.  Although part of this fallen world and a result of sin; they are “natural,” inevitable, and are just going to happen.  We are built to withstand these things.  There may be no more painful thing than losing your own child – whether a miscarriage after striving to get pregnant or a teenager dying in a tragic accident; but we are built to work through these things.  Life has loss built in.  Life has grief built in.

Some things in life are unnatural.  Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are not natural.  When a person is abused by another, especially someone who should be caring for them, these things cause new breaks.  The old man is inherently broken but these kinds of unnatural injuries to our minds and bodies cause breaks that are new and extraordinary.  Often debilitating.  When I say “loss and grief,” I’m not talking about these kinds of unnatural blows to our humanity that must be addressed as brokenness that requires restoration and healing in their own unique ways.

So…what’s my point?

Grief and sorrow as a response to loss is a natural reaction.  Loss is inevitable in some form or another.  Some losses are brutal.  Others are just disappointing.  Either way, there is a process of dealing with these things.  My hypothesis right now, based on my experience, is that loss and grief do not break us.  They don’t create brokenness.  We aren’t damaged by it.  Grief simply dredges up and exacerbates brokenness.  That “old man” becomes harder to put off.  Our “new man” grieves too and is harder to put on.  Cracks in the old man are more visible as grief pours over it and exposes old wounds.

This should be encouraging those grieving and feeling broken.  Although brokenness is there, it can be put off!  If we “embrace the suck” and allow ourselves to grieve as we reach out to God and ask for help putting on the new man, eventually we’ll find that we not only find a new normal in our lives but we have tools and experiences at our disposal unique to our experience and useful for the Kingdom.  God, in time, heals.  Grief doesn’t make us more broken – it should only remind us how beautiful and precious the gift of the “new man” really is.

The Little Moments That Shape A Life

March 21st, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

I had a dream last night that encapsulated a few little moments that shaped my life.  Awkward, embarrassing moments… and disconcerting ones.  Here are a few examples of some true stories from my past:

A Moment of Extreme Hypocrisy

After becoming a believer during my sixth grade year and spending a Summer with my uncle learning about my newfound faith, I came back to school my 7th grade year ready to share my faith with my friends.  Overall, I did a decent job of embracing my new lifestyle and I, generally, had more hope and joy in my life than I did previously.  But I was still a punk kid.  Without any cash.  And I was thirsty.

After spending a number of minutes sharing the Gospel with my classmates at the lunch table, I was extremely thirsty.  Not having any money and being too proud to admit it, I  walked through the lunch line, grabbed a chocolate milk, and walked right out toward the table I was sitting at.  I was busted.  A male teacher in a loud voice called after me: “You had better be paying for that!”  I quickly feigned a lack of a quarter and every intent to borrow one.  After a friend coughed up the requisite coin, I walked back and paid for my milk before making the walk of shame back to my table.   » Read the rest of this entry «

Do As I Do Not Do

September 30th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Ever do something, shake your head, and ask yourself, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

I do.  Frequently.  If you’re honest, you do too.

For me it is often with diet and exercise.  My latest example was today.  I was feeling a bit down after the wife and kids had left the house this morning so, instead of diving into work, I went down and did 79 squats (way too many for my fitness level), plus push-ups, sit-ups, and planks using, mainly, the Runtastic Apps for each exercise.  Speaking of which, when are you going to have Facebook and Apple HealthKit integration, Runtastic?!

After a number of hours of working, I was starting to feel like I was slipping into a funk again.  This isn’t abnormal for me this time of year – especially this year.  Just as I was starting to realize this, I saw that Strava’s update integrating Apple’s Health App was out so I downloaded the update and almost automatically put my shoes on and headed out the door to try it out on a “short jog.”  It was the first time I’d run in two months.

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I tend to be an all-or-nothing guy.  I’m either ball-to-the-wall or rear-to-the-cushion.  Very little in-between.

I had to stop at 2.5 miles.  My times were meh.  And instead of fighting off feeling depressed, I’m now fighting off the urge to medicate for pain and trying not to get any more introspective than needed.

The moral of the story?  Watch me on MyFitnessPal, Strava, and Runtastic.  Then do something else.  Because I suck at the whole diet, exercise, and overall wellness thing.  I’ll probably be lighter tomorrow…because I’ll have lost muscle mass.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow…maybe I can avoid hurting myself.

Haters Gonna Hate

November 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

My son informed me that a child at school hears stories at home from their parent(s) about how I’m a compromiser, I’m weak, and that I’m not good at my job. This child, according to Kyle, doesn’t quite know what to think about all that. I told my son to smile back and shower this (truly great) kid with love.  The fact that I adore this kid makes it all the more notable for me.

Not sure if I’m annoyed at the whole thing, feel pity for the parent, or am amused that someone thinks I’m important enough to talk about but not talk to.

Telling slander to your kid knowing it might spread through the class and get back to that parent through their own child is less-than-classy, though.  I was surprised as my wife and I try VERY hard teach our kids to respect and care about others and believe the best (like the Scriptures tell us to) until we find out otherwise.

It was one of those parenting moments where I felt like it was more important that my son know it’s not always important to defend yourself.  It’s not the first time I’ve been attacked.  When I was appointed to the State Board of Education, a hateful blogger lied about me and tried to paint me in a negative light.  What really made my eyes roll, however, was that this blogger than tried to connect with me on LinkedIn a week or two later.  I declined.  The lesson I learned with that blogger, however, is that I made the right choice to ignore it.  If I had defended myself, or fought back, I would not have changed him and he would have had additional readers to his blog that I had sent.  I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of additional traffic.  Does that prove I’m weak or point to the fact that I might be trying to stay above board? » Read the rest of this entry «

How Then Should We Advocate?

November 12th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

The 2012 Election is behind us.  Now the question remains:  whether as an active citizen or a professional activist, how then should we advocate for the things we care about after any election result?  I’ve written about much of this before but wanted to get some additional thoughts off my chest for my own benefit if nothing else.

First, what is advocacy and activism?  Issue advocacy and activism can include writing a letter to your legislator, showing up for an event at the Capitol, running for office, posting political opinions on Facebook or Twitter, lobbying, writing letters to the editor, walking in parades for candidates, or discussing politics at a friend’s house over dinner.

If you are a Christ-follower and looking to contribute to a political organization or considering getting involved in any way, here are the top five things you must keep in mind in order to be a good advocate:
» Read the rest of this entry «

The Path Of The Fatherless

October 29th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

(This post has been adapted from a former iteration of this website and various other websites that reposted it in March of 2010.  Posted here in October of 2012 and edited June 27, 2013)

I grew up fatherless. I saw my dad a few times growing up. I knew his name and whereabouts. I spent about two weeks with him in 1992-ish and he was always very kind to me when we saw each other. I got cards most birthdays and most every Christmas. But he wasn’t a part of my life, was never married to my mother, and we lived many states away from each other most of my childhood. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I began to get to know my dad and to develop a friendship with him. We are a testimony to genetics and I’m proud to be his son.

My mother was young and I was a surprise. I never wondered if she loved me but I also knew she struggled in many ways raising a son herself.

The Long Road Graphic / Fatherless

The path of the fatherless can be confusing and long…

The path of fatherlessness was a long and painful road shrouded in insecurity for me.  It is a path so far off the one God meant for families that I didn’t know I was even on it until I had my own kids. As I’ve been reflecting on my role in my own kids’ lives, it’s proven to be extremely painful for me as I look back on my childhood. So I figured I’d write a bit about it:

I look at my son and my daughter now and I see young souls that need a type of protection their mom couldn’t provide in spite of her commitment and good maternal instincts. They need a structure and authority I alone can provide. They need a dad they respect to hold them with grace when they expect nothing more than justice. These are things my kids can only get from me. For all the beauty and wisdom that is their mother, she provides a separate set of skills and wisdom I can’t offer them. God designed the nuclear family to raise healthy children.

What potential in me was lost not having a father and being exposed to men who were perfect losers? What struggles would have been overcome earlier in life or avoided altogether? What could my father and I have learned from each other? How much less am I equipped to be a father and husband having not had many positive male role models for most of my elementary and Jr. High years? How much relational heartache and how many unhealthy situations as a kid would have been avoided? How did the fear and insecurity that plagued my childhood affect me today? » Read the rest of this entry «

Those Beautifully Horrible Moments in Life

September 10th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve had, like most everyone, less than ideal moments that elicit gratefulness later in life. I call them “those beautifully horrible moments in life.”  I faced childhood challenges largely alone, moved out of my mother’s home when I was 14, moved away from friends time and time again growing up, lived with tremendous anger and misguided theology for years as a teenager and young adult.   I see this pain and disappointment as the back of a tapestry over thirty years in the making.

I’ve also had some beautifully horrible moments.  Watching my daughter die shortly after she was born was one.  But the spiritual lessons have been invaluable.  Watching my wife suffer through subsequent miscarriages was horrible.  But we are who we are as a result.

My past is in perspective and seen within the context of Providence. » Read the rest of this entry «