Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Winter: The Season of Loss

On Sunday, we continued our series “Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons. (Click here for Sunday’s notes.)

Check out yesterday’s post: Fall: The Season of Transition

Winter: THE SEASON OF Loss

This, in my opinion, the hardest of the seasons.

When we flow out of the fall, winter is there waiting. Both awesome and unavoidable, winter though challenging, is a necessary season.  For a farmer, the winter invites a time where the climate:

  • Eliminates damaging insects and pathogens.
  • Temporarily halts growth so that the plants’ energy is held in reserve so that it can build up for new growth.

So it is with us. This very challenging emotional season hits us hard. And for a those going through “Winter,” two primary emotions, which for years, has had far too much shame attached to them:

Sadness and Anger.

If you look over the course of your life, you can find times of loss.  Maybe you have to reach way back in your memory. Maybe it’s what you’re living in right now. Loss can come from a variety of sources.

  • Loss of jobs.
  • A fracture of a relationship.
  • A report from a doctor.
  • News about a child.
  • [fill in the blank with your loss]

When you are in “winter,” it’s hard to imagine that the clouds will ever break. The season of loss, can be simply overwhelming. Why? I think of it like a Michigan winter. You have that “feeling” where you are staring at the recent blizzard wondering IF the snow will every melt away and IF the sun will come out again. This emotional place can be as such; will this season every go away and will hope shine again.

I love the words of Jesus in John 16:33,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Jesus warned us we’d face problems. It’s a part of our lives and an inevitable experience. The the question is not IF we will face them but HOW we will face them.

Pursue God in loss
Some people, through the season of winter, feel very far from God. They may sense the primary emotions of sadness and/or anger, but they don’t sense His presence. That sensation (or lack thereof) part of the darkness they experience. But others, when facing winter, see it as a chance draw closer to God than more than ever before. Why? They choose to face this “Winter” time to engage with God and pray more fervently. The sense of desperation in the sadness and anger causes them to press into God’s presence for help and hope.

Work Your Roots
I know the feelings of “will this season ever end.” I live in Michigan. It’s what we all say around February. But it’s here where God does a deep work in the roots of our lives. In his book, “Four seasons of Marriage” Gary Chapman says, “We realized through winter we rediscovered our roots, affirmed our faith and grew in character.” The “Winter” is our place of stripping away what we thought was necessary and get to what we have been built with. Our roots are what are being tested and are what carries us into the next season.

If you find yourself in “Winter,” keep running toward God. Run into the arms of the One who will never “leave you or forsake you.” God isn’t distracted or offended by your emotions; God wants to be with you in them. Your emotions of sadness and anger are both normal and expressible to God. Don’t ignore them; invite Him into them.

Be of good cheer. Spring will come. The clouds will part and new beginnings will be here.

 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalms 56:8 NLT

If you are in the season of loss (Winter), be at peace knowing this: God hasn’t forgotten about you even though you may feel that way. He “keeps track” of you and cares for you as He notices every tear you shed. If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. Tomorrow we look at “Spring,” the season of new beginnings.

 

Frozen Tears: Dealing with loss during the holidays!

It’s been only a few days…

Christmas is the day after tomorrow, yet, with grandma not here, it doesn’t feel like the holiday is close at all.

The grieving process is different with Grandma Price.  The timing of finding out about her cancer…the quickness of her departure….the approaching of the holiday season…

I find myself…
…not broken down
…not frantic
…not consumed in emotion.

I’m, well, “reflective.”

It’s the only word I know to use right now.  It is the only adequate word that can describe my state of spirit.  I can’t say her death has dampened the holidays.  I think it’s given much more perspective than ever.  So, with a couple hours to write, I thought I’d ramble a bit before the funeral.

5 thoughts from the past few days…

1 – Allow people to grieve.  Grief is a very natural and perfectly acceptable thing for us as humans to feel. Eugene Peterson said,

“We don’t become more spiritual by being less human.”

Not sure why people are against the process of grief. Grieving isn’t a lack of faith in Jesus.  It’s the expression of sting that death leaves upon our flesh.  Grieving may include tears.  It may not.  What you need to do to process your grief may not be the same as other people.  It doesn’t mean it’s wrong (or right for that matter). As long as it’s not destructive/harmful, let people grieve the way they need to.

My grief over Grandma Price is different from what I went through with my other grandparents.  I don’t understand why it’s different.  I had moments of tears shed in private.  But, publicly, the emotions have been at peace.  My family, as individuals, are responding differently.  None of the responses are wrong. They’re different.  And that’s okay.

2 – Grief should be a place to visit and not to live. The death of my grandmother should not and cannot be allowed to rob me of the life I have left.  There is a season for everything, Within Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we are told,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die

I miss hearing the loud voice of Grandma speaking over the other family members because she couldn’t hear to well.  I’ll miss seeing her fall asleep in front of the TV.  But grief is not a place for me to stay.  It’s a season I must go through.  It’s a season that, in the world, is inevitable. But the promise we have in Christ is there is joy on the other side.  (Psalm 30:1-5).

3 – There are no magic words to make grief disappear.  I understand the scriptures.  I’ve studied them, preached them, counseled with them, and encouraged people with them.  They are a comfort in the midst of grief…but they don’t HIDE the grief.  The scriptures give me PERSPECTIVE through the grief.

God’s Word is more reliable than what my feelings. It gives me the vision I need to have when my emotions/feelings are everywhere.  I lean on the scriptures to help align my heart and mind with the promise of His presence.  Grief is the result of brokenness.  God is never so close to us as when we are in the place of brokenness (Psalm 34:18; Matthew 5:4).

4 – Life is short…embrace people.  Life is too brief to live in bitterness and anger.  I’ve heard it said,

“Bitterness is a like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Drama is stupid.  I won’t play that game. Lingering on old issues, makes you, well, old.  Bitterness takes years off of your life and harden’s your heart.  It wears on your soul.  I’m convinced one of the greatest unsaid epidemics that is killing individuals, let alone families, is unforgiveness.  It’s time to move on and let go.  I’m thankful for the amazing wife, children, and family that has been a tremendous source of encouragement and strength (not just to me but to others).  I’ve seen family members step up during this difficult season and go above and beyond to be there for grandma.  They’re an amazing reminder: embrace people, shun the drama.

5 – The presence of Christ cannot be underestimated and/or replaced.  Life hurts.  Sometimes it just sucks. But he is Emmanuel, God WITH us. As stated on Sunday, he is not…

…God someday with us
…God sometimes with us
…God hopefully with us

His is WITH us.  Never abandoned.  Never alone.  I have moments of not sensing His presence and not hearing His voice. But those are not sufficient proofs that I have ever been alone.  Peace is recognizing the presence of God is with me regardless of what I feel or what I sense.  My joy isn’t built on the fault-line of my feelings.  It stable on the rock-solid foundation of who He is.

This Jesus is who Grandma Price trusted in.  This is who I’ve given my life to.  And He is the one who will lead us through and lead us forward.  Today I head into a service to honor her. But, even more importantly, I move forward into a life that honors the savior that she and I both live for.

I love you grandma.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devos: Crash – Day 13

Today’s Scripture: John 11:32-36

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him,“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping,

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he was deeply moved[a] in his spirit andgreatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Crash Prayer Card 3

2 Minute Devo: “Joy during loss” Lam. 5:19,21

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September is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Restoring Joy”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Lamentations 5:19, 21:

Lamentations 5:19, 21

19 But you, O Lord, reign forever;  your throne endures to all generations.

21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.