Choosing Substance: Owning Your Grief (Day 3)

griefListen to my voice.
You will hear me begging for Your help
With my hands lifted up in prayer… Psalm 28:2

A person of substance sits in her sadness.

(“Wait!” you say. “This is an Advent series. Don’t turn down this path already!”)

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m slowly becoming a mom who is okay with grief. I was a Dismisser for years, determined to rescue my kids from all things sad. Watching someone suffer and grieve clashed with my need to encourage. Sometimes your talents work against you. Or worse yet, they work against the ones you love.

Maybe you’re a Dismisser, too. Do you play the role of cheerleader? Motivator? Perspective-giver? Do you grab the half-full glass and beg your friends to drink it? Do you drown yourself in it?

It’s all good — it really is — until we get imbalanced. Until we stop living life in moderation. Until our encouragement feels like an interruption, and those we love stop talking. They know we’re not listening anyway.

“Oh, friend, that’s awful. You’ll have a better day tomorrow.”
“Look at the bright side, son. It snowed a little. We don’t have a snow day, but at least we have a four-day week next week.”
“Yeah, you came in second… but there’s always next year.”
And so on. And so on.

Maybe we’re not as comfortable with authenticity as we’d like to think, for we whisk people out of realness. We whisk ourselves away, too.

While there’s a place and a need for encouragement, maybe we’re bestowing it on others a little too soon. Without winter, spring would feel ordinary. Without hunger, there is no fullness. Without suffering, we don’t understand wholeness… we don’t recognize redemption.

If we dare to see we’re lost, we long for Emmanuel all the more. If we sit in our brokenness, we long for the Rescuer. Long for Him.

Choosing substance means seeing your pain, naming it, grieving over it… even during Advent. Because we were made in the image of God, we reflect Him. Because we bear His image, we’re capable of grief. He wrote suffering into His own story, and so a person of substance does not fear the ache. The agony, the mourning, reminds us this isn’t our home.

This Advent season, might you choose to sit in your sadness a while? Might you be a companion to those who can’t hum the carols but are instead singings Psalms of angst? Injustice. Illness. Betrayal. Misunderstanding. I know the list is long.

Watch over my soul,
    and let me face shame and defeat unashamed
because You are my refuge.
    …Vigilantly I wait for You, hoping, trusting. Psalm 25:20-21

On the third day of Christmas my True Love gave to me the courage to sit in my sadness… the hope that He will reconcile the painful mysteries of this world.

…’Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth…

Choosing Substance

  • Read all of Psalm 28 (link can be found at the very top of this post).
  • Think back to how you were raised. Was your home a safe place in which to “sit in your sadness”? Who was the most uncomfortable with your grief? What did you do when you were sad?
  • Ponder your view of your Maker. Do you view God as One who was uncomfortable with your grief? indifferent to it? intimate and caring?
  • Add another concept to your definition of substance.

photo source | Camila Damasio