We are blessed again this year to be able to attend a local GriefShare support group. The second session in the GriefShare video series explores the concept of being “ambushed by grief”. Last year, when we went through this series the first time, this concept did not capture my attention as much as it did this second time through.
To further examine this concept, let’s first define the word “ambush”:
1. an act or instance of lying concealed so as to attack by surprise: The highwaymen waited in ambush near the road.
2. an act or instance of attacking unexpectedly from a concealed position.
3. the concealed position itself: They fired from ambush.
4. those who attack suddenly and unexpectedly from a concealed position.
verb (used with object)
5. to attack from ambush.
ambush. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved February 03, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ambush
An ambush involves the elements of surprise, concealment and being attacked. Have you ever experienced grief in this way? Does grief surprise you at the most unexpected or inopportune times?
Any given circumstance can result in me being ambushed by grief. Commonly, a grief ambush occurs when I see a boy around Isaac’s age, between the ages of ten (his age when he died) and twelve (the age he would be now if he were still living here on earth). My typical response is to either cry, imagine that boy as Isaac, withdrawal from the situation, become emotionally paralyzed or any combination of these responses. I also occasionally experience disorientation and confusion and am unable to make a decision for a short period of time. The symptoms may pass relatively quickly, especially after I consciously determine to pray to God for help through the event. Although, before I reach the point of consciously praying to God, I feel as if my heart is turned God-ward anyway, lifting up inaudible and unintelligible words and thoughts to Him. I am reminded of the following Scripture verse:
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom 8:26)
Recently, a situation occurred that triggered a grief ambush. Someone was injured and for a few moments the severity of the injury was uncertain (the injury turned out to be minor and the individual is quite fine now). In those moments of uncertainty, I became emotionally paralyzed and felt faint and my mind was cloudy. I immediately withdrew from this situation and cried out to God for help and sanity. He gave me the strength to return to the situation and assist, although I felt guilty for retreating in the first place. I felt that I had to retreat at the time in order to gather my senses, but I wish I could have immediately drawn on the Spirit to help me in the first place. All of this over a minor injury – I was ambushed indeed.
Even as I write now, I continue to learn that grief is not a short-term spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical struggle that you just “get through”. Perhaps, this will be a lifelong journey until I reach my eternal home. I don’t understand any more of “why” we are one this journey, but I am learning more of who God is. I realize that He is beyond the box that I tried to put Him in. I know that He is good, trustworthy, gracious and merciful, even when my life experiences would tempt me to conclude otherwise.
Just this past week, I heard the following song on the radio. The song is titled “Who You Are” and is performed by JJ Heller. I think you will appreciate why this song impacted me and I hope that it causes you to reflect more on who God is, no matter what you are facing in life.