As an eternal optimist, I do not spend much time recognizing, much less feeling the emotions that set the stage for grief work, yet I highly value the refining and restorative power of grieving well. I have discovered that when “time and space” is allotted, created, or imposed to grieve well, I am always better, always stronger, always more sure of next steps. Safe places and quiet days, filled with white space and wide margins, usher me into a valley I must tread and reacquaints me with the One who was “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” (Isaiah 53:3).
Memorial Weekend signifies the end of spring and the beginning of summer for me and for many. Having lived at a summer camp/retreat center for 27 years, it is the weekend the “magic” of camp begins, as 200 remarkable people show up with work gloves, sunscreen, bathing suits, Bibles, and a joy that overflows. Not so this year.
The quiet of the weekend and the unknown of what lies ahead, set the stage for the grief work my soul needed. I did not see it coming, but with three quiet days strung together and my family recognizing needs I was blind to, the door was opened. I still needed to enter in, and by the grace of God I did. What did my grief work look like for me?
- Rested extravagantly.
- Made room for fun.
- Met with Jesus over long hours each morning.
- Flipped through my 2020 journal. There are no words for this journey.
- Allowed some tears to fall.
- Felt a sadness that is often easier for me to keep at bay.
- And remembered that Grief Work requires Good Company.
David, as in King, is always my go-to companion, and Psalm 61 and 143 are favorite places we meet. Ushered into the Presence of God the ache of my heart could safely tumble out.
Where are you in your Grief Work? Is it about done? Is it picking up speed? Is it just starting? When the time is right, when there is margin in a quiet hour, find your Bible, grab a pen, and allow the healing, restorative work of grief to have its way.
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b]
5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.
A psalm of David.
1 Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
Brenda Jank is a thought leader in the arena of Restorative Wellness. Find additional resources and support for yourself and those you love, lead and serve at www.RunHardRestWell.org