Andrea O Smith
The Grief Goblin
Over the weekend, I was diagnosed with calcific tendinitis. It's a condition in which calcium crystals form in the tendons of the rotator cuff in the shoulder. It essentially stabs your tendons and surrounding muscle from the inside each time you move your arm. There is very little to be done other than reducing inflammation as much as practical and possibly add some massage therapy to help the healing along. In rare cases surgery is needed to remove the calcification. The real bugger is if you keep the joint still and don't move it, there is a risk of forming Frozen Shoulder. However, exercising range of motion is excruciating. It's a real catch 22.
As I am trying to navigate the next steps forward to shorten this ailment, I am reminded of all the times I sat through intense grief. It is such a similar scenario. You are hit by a soul-crushing loss and the world keeps going. Deadlines continue to come and go. Appointments creep up. All you want to do is scream for everything to just STOP and let you catch your breath. You need time to not move, not do, not feel more than necessary. Eat, don't eat, it doesn't matter to you. You just want everything to stop so you can lay in bed in the comfort of your blanket fort, supplied with boxes of Kleenexes and just cry, yell, process.
While we may sit in that rest for a while, we must continue forward; onward toward the unknown of life without the one we lost or the life we thought we would have. If we continue marinating in our grief, we will get stuck there in the land of the Grief Goblin. When we continue to focus on the pain and hide from it or try to numb it with substances or other such addictions, we will atrophy.
The good news... we have somewhere to go!! We press into the one who has the ability to actually heal our heavy burdens, our inescapable pain, to soften the sting from the wake of death. It is not idly sitting still, waiting on Him. We need to dig into God's word, we need fellowship with Him in prayer and we need to intentionally surround ourselves with those who have our path to healing as a solid goal. Then we meditate on His promises.
Psalm 34:18 - "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Isn't that fantastic news! He holds us in our sorrow. He listens when we scream out our frustrations and His heart is for us when we muddle through our desperate bargaining.
Psalm 23:4 - "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." We can be brave as we face the days ahead and know God will lead us toward goodness, both for our own lives and His glory.
John 16:22 - "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." In the midst of the pain, we can forget that there will be another side to this moment. There will be a time when we can smile without straining. We will laugh without guilt and we will walk in full joy knowing that God is fully in control...even of our pain.
Revelation 21:4 - "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Doesn't that sound delightful?!? As Christians, we have a HOPE that transcends what this world has to offer. We have a future that is devoid of misery and strife!!
Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." I literally sing this verse to get me through rough times. It is a promise that when we spend time actively abiding in God, we will experience rest. Remember, rest is for a moment, a reprieve. It is not where we unpack. We were made for more!
Psalm 147:3 - "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Take time to really soak in this imagery of God binding up your heartache. Think of a child having to get a bandaid on the knee after a nasty spill off their bicycle. Nothing beats a bandaid and a kiss on the boo-boo from Mom or Dad. He is doing just that. He is working for you to not just be well, but to thrive! God is the Neosporin for our souls. His love is the salve for our spirit.
Yes, we will continue to experience pain during this growing process. We don't have to be happy about it. It's going to take all our energy to keep pressing on despite the agony we are experiencing. Much like I will have to intentionally hurt myself to make my shoulder better, we must do the work to actively heal after our short rest. As a reminder, grief does come in waves and does not stick to that linear 5 step model we've all been taught. That's okay. That's part of the process. I don't expect that my shoulder, once healed, will never have issues again. That's just not likely. So too, it is with grief. Ride the waves wether they are rough, raging seas, or momentary calm waters with the hope that God is right beside you cheering you on and loving you through your journey.
Dear Healer, You are magnificent! How could you possibly care about us so much that you come to us in our grief? While our pain and sadness seems insurmountable to us, it has to only be a blip on your screen. Yet, you make time to comfort us. You promise us your presence in our weakness and suffering. How glorious a thought that you are by our side when we feel all is lost. Your continued - steady presence gives us the courage to plow through and keep taking one step at a time toward full restoration. The Bible tells us of times you have been grieved yourself. You know the feeling. You know what we need to make it through. Please keep sending reminders through your Word, through friends and nature to remind us how lovely this life is even with it's hills and valleys of emotions. We love you and are grateful for how beautifully you show your love to us. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.