Grief, from a different angle.

Grief, from a different angle.

something-has-died

When people think about loss and grief, they tend to think about death. When things die, we grieve. Last year, my eyes were opened to the reality that grief is unfortunately a much broader term, a much more inclusive hardship than I had realized.

Sometimes, the loss of a relationship – even the change of a relationship – can be something we mourn and grieve. Even if the person stays with us in the life, and even with us in relationship.

Sometimes we have to let go of our expectations and desires for relationships. Sometimes it’s our husband, or a child, a parent, a sibling, a best friend. We have hopes and expectations of these people who are in our lives, and often we’re unaware that we even have these expectations.

It is when we see that those hopeful expectations are not being met that we realize what is happening.

Not until we are let down, hurt, abused, mistreated, offended, or disappointed again do we come to the realization that the relationship might never be what we had hoped for, what God had intended it to be. It is then that we experience real loss. Real grief, even without death, in the truest form.

  • You might be a wife, submitting to the reality of your difficult marriage, so much less than what you had dreamed it would be, but unwilling to consider divorce because of your beliefs. Maybe you feel stuck, and you grieve your loss every day as you move through it.
  • You might be a mom, letting go of a relationship with a daughter that you can’t seem to reconcile because something has become between you two. Maybe this flawed and broken world has left her unwilling for restoration and it’s breaking your heart.
  • You might be a daughter, realizing that you’ll never quite receive the unconditional love, support, and approval that you always thought you had from your father. Maybe he cares for you, but it’s conditional. Maybe he has left you, or hurt you. Maybe he doesn’t approve of the decisions that he’s made. Maybe you never met him at all.
  • You might have become estranged from a sibling because you can’t see eye to eye on something important. Maybe one of you didn’t make the choice to love each other without condition when things get hard. Maybe one of you took distance, and you are unable to close the gap.

Whatever it looks like, it’s clear something has died. It will never be what we long for, what we wanted, what God intended for us, and what seems right.

And so we mourn.

We mourn the approval, the emotional proximity, the unconditional acceptance, the unwavering support, the love-me-even-at-my-worst kind of love, the picture of what it should have been.

We may go numb, we may cry out, we may shut down, we may fall into a depression, we may hate ourselves for whatever we did to contribute to the brokenness, we may place blame, we may ball in a heap on the floor.

And then, like anyone who grieves, we are forced to move on.

And what we move on to is the one who loves us more. Unconditionally. Unwaveringly. At our worst. In the pit. He sees and knows us to the core, and loves us even still.

And His love, it keeps on loving. Our hopes, our expectations, are fulfilled and then out done. Every. Single. Time.

His love endures forever. | Palms 136:26

 

Bio:

Taylor Monaco is a work from home mom of two little ones. She started the Fresh Lens blog (www.thefreshlens.com) as an outlet for her love of photography and the word of God. On the Fresh Lens, she seeks to give others a fresh look into His biblical truth because she knows that in Him, we see things quite indifferently.

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To the Mom that Needs to Take Heart

To the Mom that Needs to Take Heart

I see you. I see you struggle. I see you question. I see you wonder. I see you with little pockets of joy but most of the time you are filled with fear. Fear of insufficiency. Fear of disconnect. Fear of the difficult. Fear of emptiness. Fear of disappointment. Fear of not satisfying the feeling of dissatisfaction. Fear of causing your family to miss out on every potential opportunity. Fear of ruining them or making them useless to me and the world.

I hear you. I hear your cries for rest. I hear your plea to not wake up yet because you don’t want to face your fear. Fear of what now. Fear of the questions “How much TV can my kids watch today? How long do I have to hold this kid before he’s happy? How will this all work when the new baby gets here?” I hear your mind reeling as soon as the kids get up. You don’t see this day as a day to embrace but a day to battle. Battle messes. Battle expectations. Battle weariness and physical exhaustion. Battle that tinge of guilt for feeding your kids cereal with non-organic milk. Battling the reality that you’re not getting it all right and people in your care will have to face the consequences of your choices for them. I hear you feebly fighting almost every moment of the day. I hear you criticize your choices and never feel good enough about anything because you wonder if you should have been doing something else or someone else’s opinion of what you should be doing is running through your head like a song set on repeat.

He understands how big this is for you. Remember, because of your inadequacies Jesus fought your biggest battle. He is well aware of how incapable you are. He understands it is hard to understand. Your inadequacies are always going to exist. Always. You’re never going to get it all right or why did Jesus die? It’s hard to accept but it’s one of the most real things and you need to see it. You are inadequate. Very. Very. Very. You are a jar of clay. You are dust. You are a vessel, a pot. You are not all together and put together and usable. You are broken, broken, broken so don’t expect unbrokenness. Don’t expect to know answers. Don’t expect to get it right. Don’t expect to have arguments that can silence the voice of the Devil who continually reminds you of your guilt. Don’t you know only HIS name does that? Only the light can defeat darkness. Grey can’t overcome black. Only light can defeat dark. God is light. You are not.

HE is glad to be with you in it and has appreciated your continued refocus and reshift. He appreciates your dissatisfaction with dissatisfaction. He is so glad you keep trying to keep your eyes on him. So listen. Keep your eyes on him. He is there and so ready to embrace tomorrow with you. He is ready for you to feed your kids cereal. He is ready for you to give in to your son’s demands for TV. He is ready for you to hand over fruit snacks. Shutdown. Break down. Feel so weary and so tired and have no energy. He is not against you and not disappointed in you. If you keep your eyes on Him your tenderness will return. Your Father is not scared of the bigness of parenting nor unaware that broken bodies making children is draining or that TV can be an answer to prayer if it means your toddler won’t make a mess. He sees that and hears that and God is not angry or asking you to change and be someone different and be someone better. He is not asking any of that. He is with you. Their life is important to Him too. You aren’t capable of making them who God wants them to be on your own anyhow. It’s all by His spirit. He wants to be with you in this because God loves kids. His kingdom is filled with their example. They are pure joy to Him. He likes your kids right now. And He likes you.

He can do something about it. Jump into Jesus’ arms and love life. Put down your sword in the morning and take off your meager armor of “Goal oriented, picture perfect, Fake it til you make it” Motherhood. Remember you are clothed in amazing robes of righteousness only because of what Jesus has done. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Not right answers. Not perfection. Freedom. Embrace Holy Spirit. Run with Holy Spirit and enjoy His presence which will give you more peace than perfection ever could.

Originally Posted by Liz Wamsley from Anything Quite Like This

Do you have a story of God’s goodness in your life? I want it to be told! Please share with me over here for a chance to be featured and God’s goodness to be told. Your story matters.

Fear’s Threats and God’s Voice

Fear’s Threats and God’s Voice

She is physically and emotionally tired. She knows you don’t give us a spirit of fear, Lord, but fear is something she often experiences. She feels like a slave, a person being tortured in her own body. Reasoning, where did you go? Mind, why have you forsaken me? Body, why have you rejected me? What remains is a woman bruised and beaten, oppressed by fear. Let her live! She hates this feeling and wants this madness that always is her to end. She takes a breath, but not for too long …

Oh Darling, don’t get too comfortable with peace because you remember what I’ve told you about peace. Peace is nothing but an illusion, a dirty trick for the gut-wrenching tragedy that is to come. Don’t worry, I have you safe wrapped in a warm blanket of anxiety. Let me properly introduce myself … my name is Fear. We first met many years ago when you were a wee little girl. You were easy to get to know but I was still cautious. People don’t often take to me kindly, they think I’m a little aggressive and come on too strong, so I’ve learned to take it slow (I wouldn’t want you running away from me, now would I?). As you grew into a young woman, you often couldn’t stop thinking about me and visiting me. I must have made quite an impression on you. Oh, but don’t be embarrassed, most people are the same … they just can’t get enough of me. I became your addiction. You love me, you desire me, you need me. I’ve always been here for you too, haven’t I? I have never left or forsaken you. You can always come running and I’ll always have open arms for you. You’re too far in it with me now, aren’t you? Well, Honey, I got you years ago. I tricked you into believing I was safe and you actually believed it, you believed and trusted me. Me!? ha Years of our subtle dating and WHAM a devastating tragedy and I knew I had you good. It was cute how you called out to God and let Him comfort you during that time. You tried, you really did but you just couldn’t forget me, could you? I warned you, most people can’t get enough of me. You began to crave me again and all it took was a little hint of doubt … “what if”. Honey, you are too easy. A devastating tragedy, how much easier could it get to make you doubt the goodness of God? I stole your logic and reasoning, don’t you see? You are mine, Love, and I’m not letting you go. It’s cute how you try but when will you learn that you are mine? We are too intertwined. You can’t escape me unless …

“YOU’RE MINE!”, he calls out. A disruption from the torment. She recognizes this voice but has little familiarity with it. He reminds her, have I not told you I bestow on you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3)? Have I not also told you – you will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; you will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations (Isaiah 61:4)? Child, you are mine and you are living in a ruined city named Fear. You don’t belong there. You are out of place because I’ve come to give you life and give it to the full (John 10:10b). Fear has gripped you for far too long and fear wants you to believe there is no way out but there is and it’s through me (John 10:10). You don’t feel that is true right now, but you will. I just need you to hear me more so I can teach you a new way. I need you to start taking your thoughts captive and calling them for what they are, fear, (2 Corinthians 10:5) and then trust me to see you through. Did the bleeding woman not get full healing from just a touch of my robe (Mark 5)? Child, then trust me to heal your mind. My robe is my word and my Holy Spirit living in you (Mark 1:7) and you have it, come touch. Freedom from fear does not come by fixating on more fear or trying to solve fears problems. Rather, freedom from fear comes from me. I need you to lean into me. Don’t fall into the trap that you can do anything to fix this … you are in a bit of a mess that is entangled with fear. I want you to sit and let me untangle you and I will lead you out to freedom. All I want you to do is breathe, rest and “touch my robe”(Matthew 11:28). Remember, my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:30). You have confused my truth with fear and have forgotten that I do not give the spirit of fear (1 Timothy 1:7). Fear will silence if you are willing to do different and leave this ruined city. I love you, Child. You are mine and you most definitely are not alone. I’ve already walked this journey before you and I’ll also walk behind you (Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 59:10). You are protected by me, even in the pain of walking out of the ruined city. There are no measures I wouldn’t take to protect you, my sweet Child. My nail scarred hands are proof that I’ve already gone the distance for YOU and I would do it again (John 15:13). I desire you to know just how deep my love is for you, Child. Come, touch my robe, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Micah 7:8

Deflated Joy

Deflated Joy

Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Through it all, I find myself seeking, sometimes desperately, to find and fill up on joy. I’m not talking about joy in the trivial sense like feeling happy or excited. I’m talking about joy that runs straight to the core, runs through my veins and bleeds out of me. Joy that can’t be robbed or taken because it’s just who I am. Joy that Psalm 27 describes,

“For in the day of trouble

    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent

    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted

    above the enemies who surround me;

at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

    I will sing and make music to the Lord.”

Psalm 27: 5-6 (NIV)

I am in desperate need for this joy, but sometimes life is devastating and my joy feels deflated. The reality  that life isn’t just hard but can be excruciating painful, makes me feel like joy isn’t even possible to have or experience. The truth is, if we are Christians, our joy never is robbed or taken from us. In fact, it’s not only ours but our right to have and we see scripture point to that over and over again. Often times, if you are like me, we mistake joy for happiness and try to fill up on the trivial things of life. The truth is, God never promised an easy, carefree life. In fact, he assures us of the opposite (John 16:33) but he says we can take heart and that is defined as “to seize with authority or legal right”!

Ladies, we have authority and the right to have joy, to take heart even in trials. Today, let’s fill up on the truth of The Word, Jesus, so we can take back our joy because it is your right and you have authority, because of Jesus, to do just that! In doing so,  we will get to live life with some joyful audacity!

Your Prescription: Scripture

Dose: 10-30 x/day

Hebrews 12:2 “…for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Psalm 27:5-6 “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tend and set me high upon a rock … at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.”

Psalm 4:6-8 “Many, the Lord, are asking ‘Who will bring us prosperity? Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy … in peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 21:5-7 “…you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Psalm 30:4-5 “Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Do you have another verse that means a lot to you? Be sure to stop over and let me know! I just may need to hear it too.

In this together,

Maria

 

Article Originally Posted on Life Up Your Day

What Does it Mean to Rest in God

What Does it Mean to Rest in God

What if resting in God isn’t an escape from pain but a posture we take through the pain?
When mom and dad died I had this supernatural fight in me to stay faithful to God and grounded in His truth (in spite of what my eyes were seeing). Girl, I put on that full armor of God and I went to battle every single stinkin’ day (Ephesians 6). I fought hard and I fought well by God’s grace. While many were questioning God, I had laser focus on what was eternally important. The fight got long, excruciating and exhausting but I saw God’s grace all over the place reminding me, “I’m still here” and that’s why I could take another step. I guess you could say my fight was to see Him and not the reality that was in front of me, which screamed “hopeless”.

 

Time went on and I got to move out of this constant place of war and into a place of rest but I don’t know what to do with it. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever known how to rest in God. I feel like a baby whose mom switches from milk to actual food for the first time and I’m saying to God, “what on earth am I supposed to do with this?! Why do I want to change what I’ve been doing, especially since it’s been of help to me? I’m scared to rest in You. What if you allow more pain? I’ve rested before and look what happened? Why are you calling me to rest when all I know is to fight?” As I kick and scream He gently reminds me that my fight morphed into fear and anxiety and my trust in him has turned into doubt of His goodness for me. I’ve been a proclaiming Christian for a long time but have I ever really known what it means to rest in God? If I’m not resting in Him, am I really trusting Him? There is a broken belief about Him, and I don’t know where the break happened. Naturally, in true Maria form of wanting to take control, I try to find the break so I can go back and fix but I can’t. Plus, every time I do attempt to fix the break, fear wells up and you can find me crying (quite literally) and screaming NO! Here’s the deal, our broken beliefs about who God is can NOT be fixed by us and must be fixed by Him. In my failed attempts to fix what is broken, I’ve exchanged his gift of rest for fear and worry and I need a Savior. Sometimes, I’m such a mess there is nothing I can do but keep the posture of calling out, confessing, repenting and asking “please Lord, not again…not another tragedy. Please don’t teach me about your goodness like that again.” I wait and I trust that He is faithful and able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine being that someday, I will know what it means to rest in Him as I stay faithful. I can’t do this one on my own, I can’t save myself from my unbelief but He can and I trust He will.

 

Lord, help us not to return your good gifts of grace in exchange for anxiety, fear, and worry of the unknown. You are a good God and I ask that you show me just how good you are. Help me know what it means to receive your good gifts yet to still hold loosely to this world.
His Word covers our “what ifs…”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Colossians 3:2,3 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Philippians 1:29 “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him …”

 

Learning to rest in Him & lean into His goodness,

Maria