Brianna turned two months old last weekend.
So what is grief like two months out? Three words:
Less ashamed of itself. (I know, technically a phrase.)
I’d say honest, because I am finally being honest with the Lord about how mad, confused, and upset I am about how He worked and didn’t choose to work in this situation. For a while, I didn’t convey the depth of my pain to Him because I didn’t want to say something out of anger that I would regret. I know that is ludicrous, because God knows what is on my heart regardless of whether I share it with him or not, but it goes back to how I process my anger and hurt.
I’m an emotional stuffer, not a spewer. If I talk to you about how you hurt me, I have already given the situation careful thought prior to our conversation. I have decided that my feelings aren’t temporary. I’ve helpfully reduced why I am upset to a bullet-pointed list. I am ready to tell you what I want you to do differently.
It takes me a while to get there. I have to value the relationship to even have this conversation. If I see you once a year or if I don’t like you very much, I’ll probably just let you bother me every time we’re together because it’s not worth the conflict to me.
If I love you though, I am invested and want to have the best relationship possible.
This means honest conversation.
And that’s where God and I are finally at. I’ve finally been telling Him bluntly, you didn’t work how I wanted. Why? I’m upset. I’m hurt. You could have intervened and you didn’t. Why?
And I’m less ashamed of this conversation. I realized the other day (thanks to a very helpful 10 minutes of Christian radio) that having this conversation with God, having these feelings towards God, is not reflective of a LACK of faith. Rather, it is the epitome of faith.
Starting this conversation says, I acknowledge that You’re there. This circumstance hasn’t changed my belief in Your existence.
Secondly, it says, I believe that You are sovereign and powerful and COULD have acted in a way that made more sense to me. This circumstance hasn’t changed my belief in Your sovereignty, even if I don’t get your methods.
And finally, it says, I value this relationship enough to be honest with you and to wrestle through this. I’m not walking away in my anger; I’m going to stay and fight this out. This circumstance hasn’t changed my desire for a relationship with You.
My friend Jess told me a few months ago that “being angry with God is the deepest form of trust.” I didn’t really get what she was talking about then, but I’m starting to understand it. I HATE anger; it is not something that feels comfortable for me. So talking about my anger with God is like bringing my ugliest sin to Him and saying “this is disgusting–I know–and I am ashamed to even feel this way, but I’m going to be real with You because I want you to know the real me and I want to understand You. I know that this is going to require a ton of vulnerability on my part and a ton of patience on Yours. I trust each of us to hold up our end of what is needed. Let’s do this thing, because it’s important.”
I think of Mary and Martha telling Jesus, “if you had been here, our brother wouldn’t have died.” Jesus didn’t slap them across the face for questioning His handling of the situation; He felt deeply for them and wept with them. I remind myself that the same compassionate, loving person weeps with me as I wrestle through this and try to understand—and that it’s important for me to wrestle because I value this relationship.
Finally, grief two months out is surprising. I’ve been surprised by the intensity of my grief throughout this experience. I had hoped it would be a deep sadness for a week or two followed by a level of unhappiness for a week or two, and then back to normal. I blame ignorance. I won’t question anyone’s grief again. It’s hard to understand or predict what you’ll feel, and nobody likes feeling this way but you can’t coach yourself out of it. You just have to go through the stupid process.
I’d also say, though, that the resilience is surprising. In a shorter period of time than I thought possible, I went from awful and barely functional to fully functional with an undercurrent of sadness but sense of future hope. I attribute this to God’s provision of my husband and family, counseling from our agency, and my friends Whitney, Jeanette, and Jaima, who cannot understand what an encouragement they have been.
This doesn’t hurt either:
My sweet girl.
I won’t be normal for a while still, but I am hopeful about the future. I am trusting God to take care of Brianna and show her how much she is loved and valued by Him and by others. I have to lay down my desire for a different outcome and my fears about the future and my wish for control down every day right now, but when I lay it down, I usually don’t pick it back up for the rest of the day and that’s amazing to me.
God never told us that life would be easy; He said we would have trouble in this world and yet the trouble doesn’t change who He is or the other promises He has made to us to be with us, to comfort us, and to work all things together for our good. “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.” -Psalm 33:4
This is grief two months out.