The song “Smile” by John Turner and Jeffery Parsons is actually not to far, if not completely accurate, of how a lot of people approach grieving and loss:
Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just
This mindset of smiling when “your heart is breaking” and hiding “every trace of sadness” is more damaging then actually going through the grieving process. When you actually grieve something it may not seem like it, but you are getting through to the other side. If you just stuff your feelings it doesn’t fix anything. It just stuffs it away and that’s ALL it does. So, when you are faced with similar circumstances like a break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the same feelings will come up, the same hurt will fester and ooze, and the same wounds will leak and bleed.
I want to share with you these various images that God revealed to me of what it was like to grieve with Him ALL the way through:
There once was a desert place that my body, mind, and soul lived. The hot winds would tear and claw and push my tiny delicate frame down to its knees like a merciless pack of dogs. The ground that I stood upon was not sand but mountain upon mountains of black valleys of ashes. Those ashes were all dreams, plans, and life I had planned with my late husband. And all around me was complete and utter darkness. It was cold and lonely and dead. Sometimes it hurt to even breathe. Breathing felt like pins and needles were attached to my lungs. Holding my breath was more comfortable because then I wouldn’t have to feel the pain and the sadness and the grief.
My heart and my soul ached for my late husband. It cried; it screamed; it yelled; it lamented; it mourned; it threw fits of rage; it threw fits of sadness; it threw fits of confusion and frustration; but most of all it JUST missed him.
It is in this desert place that I cried sometimes moaned for God to comfort and join me in this desert place. He did not rush me. He did not tell me to get over it. He did not tell me to be happy. He did not tell me to stop crying. He did not tell me that this happened for a reason.
Instead His heart and His soul also ached for my late husband too. When I cried, he cried. When I screamed, he screamed. When I lamented, he lamented. When I was angry, he was angry.
He was like the perfect mirror that mirrored my every emotion and feeling.
But the one difference was that when I looked into the mirror of my heart and His it yielded much different results. My heart was fractured like a mosaic painting and it looked as if all life had been choked and squeezed out of it like lemon. His heart was whole and glowing and radiant like the brightest sun and it wrapped around me like a cozy warm blanket.
Every time I hurt or would grieve something I would ask Him to hold my heart. Without me noticing He slowly began pouring healing oils on my hurts or rubbing and waking up places that were dead, and gluing back parts that had been fractured. The glue took on many forms: comfort, peace, love, understanding, listening, cradling, crying, hurting, singing, protecting, cradling, doting, holding, but most of all BEING and JOINING me in my pain. It was like he was the perfect mother, father, brother, sister, counselor, doctor, friend, husband all rolled into one and infinitely more.
Another thing I did not realize was that each time He comforted me in my hurt a part of the desert land changed. The ashes of lost dreams and dead hopes were slowly, one by one, exchanged with jewels and precious gold of found dreams and living hopes. The hot winds that use to knock me down and tear my skin began to lift my soul and body up off the ground and caress my skin with gentle kisses of life and warmth. The ground that was once barren and dead began to pulse and move and breath with fields of green and wildflowers that glistened like precious jewels in the sun. And there were beautiful waterfalls and rivers and creeks that swirled and spiraled like metal springs around the mountains and valleys and fields of green. And where complete and utter darkness loomed over me, now the glorious sunlight shone down on the land like a colorful blanket of rainbow like jewels of every color.
All those tears I cried in the desert with my Father is what gave this world life. New life can never begin if we cannot grieve and let go of the things that have died FIRST.
There will always be a corner of my heart that has ashes of loss because there are so many things I will have to grieve about Ben or just about life in general. But I will know it is in those moments to run quickly to God or when I cannot run for Him to join me. And for Him to hold my heart. I don’t want to hide or stuff my feelings because if I do I will miss out on the exchanges of my ashes for beauty. Instead of hiding what I feel to myself I long to hide how I feel WITH God because He knows how to mend or heal what is causing me so much pain and he is the safest place to hide. He longs to protect me like a father. He longs to comfort and stroke my hair like a mother. He longs to listen like a good friend. He longs to counsel me like a good counselor. He longs to love me like a good husband. And most of all He longs to be Emmanuel, God with me because how my heart and soul feels matters to Him.