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Grace in Grief


I've seen this play out all too often: someone is grieving and they unexpectedly become the encourager for the other who initially came to encourage them. Why does this happen? I have asked myself this question for many years. Partly because I grieve deeply during my own and other people's loss. There are countless moments I have missed to love on and encourage my brothers and sisters in their time of loss because of my own irrational thoughts and unhealthy methods of grieving. So this time I talked to God about it. And he gave me a golden nugget of wisdom about grief that I just want to share with you.

September 2016 presented a challenging season for my home church family. One of the pillars of our church and our beloved deacon for many many years, Marvin R. Pittman, gained his wings; and now he rests in the arms of his Lord and Savior. Although in the spirit we are all celebrating with him, we are still left to live through real thoughts and emotions we experience as a result of his absence here on earth. Such a big presence always leaves a big void.

I stood back and watched as friends and loved ones visited, called and showed their acts of love and support in so many ways. I sat back and watched…for a couple of reasons. What would I say? And the most relevant question for me: Would my heavy spirit be a hindrance to their healing process?

It became a pet peeve of mine to see grieving people having to encourage others who came for the specific purpose to encourage them. But the question is WHY did this become a pet peeve for me?

Could it be that the underlying thinking was that when you grieve you must be sad all the time? "If you're not sad, your emotions must not be genuine." Could it be pride? "I'm supposed to be the one encouraging them, not the other way around." And I know you wouldn't want to admit this one...but could it be a need for power? "I'm the strong one in this situation, surely I can handle this." The answer is always found in the WHY!

For me, there might have been a crazy mixture of them all, but I had to realize that I was wrestling with pride...and I was losing the match. I allowed pride to make me believe that the "griever" should be sad and the "encourager" should not be. But associating these hidden rules and responsibilities to people walking in Gods favor and grace proved me wrong time and time again. There are no rules, just relationships. And all healthy relationships are fluid and reciprocal.

The golden nugget of wisdom:

Often times God will give us a special grace over our circumstances that others may not have or even need. That grace may manifest as peace in the midst of a loved one's death. But as children of the King, even in our plight we have a responsibility. When we get grace, we should share it. It's as simple as that. When God gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding in the midst of grief, we are then set apart. And because we have been elevated to a position in grace that others around us may not have reached yet in that same situation, we are then accountable to God to impart peace onto others. So practically, this may look like someone coming to your house to encourage you in your time of need, but you end up encouraging them in theirs. Be okay with wherever you may fall in this exchange. This is how we fully heal. This is how we love in relationships. This is how we glorify God. This is how we show good stewardship over the grace that God gives us.

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