Dealing With Grief

It is Well With My Soul.

Grief is a strange and spectral creature. There is nothing orderly or reasonable about him. He creeps in when and where I least expect him, desiring to rob me of my peace. He sneaks into the dark of night, which, as in the tales of most ghostly beings, is where he is most comfortable. He also intrudes into my day, usually when my hands are idle and my mind has space to wander.

Most days, I am fine. Then a song plays, or a friend calls, or something I read triggers the anguish, and grief washes over me once more. And so it goes and so it goes.

Spoken words don’t come easily to me, and oddly, writing is hard. It is in writing that I find I have to face what I really think and feel. It takes me time to process.

This past year and a half brought many losses to our family, testing my faith and forcing me to throw myself into the arms of my Heavenly Father. Although I trust God has a plan in all this, I have not liked it one bit. But He hasn’t asked me to like it. He’s asked me to trust Him.

I do not enjoy the presence of Grief. I don’t like to cry. I want to stop feeling the bad. But grief only comes from losing something loved, and I wouldn’t give up on loving no matter the grief.

It’s funny how it is hard to cry around other people. Causing someone else to be uncomfortable, makes me uncomfortable. The thought of causing them more pain makes me try to be strong. But tears are necessary and healing.

Studies show that tears help release stress reducing and mood regulating hormones. God, in His mercy, gave us tears. I shouldn’t be ashamed of that gift.

For me, music breaks through that protective wall and despite myself, makes me feel. And then I cry. 

I don’t mind at all if this happens when I’m alone in my kitchen or car and can sing along to the prayer of a song while tears wash my face. It is through song that my soul responds best and lifts up to God the pain (and the joy) I cannot otherwise express. I want to close my eyes and lift my hands (both of which I do only in my mind while driving) and let God pull me into His presence, hold me close, and bring me comfort. When the tears dry, I am at peace once more. It is well with my soul.

When singing in church has the same effect, that can be a bit embarrassing. I am not normally given to emotional outbursts, and besides, I have a teenage son who I’d rather not mortify by sniffling and snuffling through “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” 

The ‘tear’ thing happens often at church. Usually the emotion simply causes my eyes to moisten. When the pain is most raw and I am most vulnerable, tears might overflow. Is it because I am already in God’s presence that the simplest of songs reaches those deep places in ways I can’t hold back? Maybe so.

When I am most vulnerable, please don’t mind me if I retreat to the lobby in the middle of the singing. It’s my way of climbing into my Father’s arms without making a scene, letting Him soothe me and whisper His peace to my soul. When I come back inside, I can smile once more–and it’s sincere.

It is Well With My Soul

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

–Horatio Spafford

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