RSS

Tag Archives: anger

Where’s the fire?

How many times have I intended to write a post, only to not find the determination to follow through?  I even started several of them, but could not seem to find the proper words to bring them to completion.  Being frustrated with my lack of passion to write, and wanting freedom from the duty to try to complete my earlier thoughts, I recently cleaned out my “draft” posts and decided to start afresh.  So here we go…

Spring is almost here.  It is the time of year when the earth brings forth new life and we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior.  It is also the time of year when a dark cloud hangs over the anticipation of a particular date – April 18.  It will be almost three years since our beloved Isaac passed on into heaven.  Even after the long cold winter we experienced, it is still difficult to be fully excited about the change in season, at least until we pass that day.

So, how am I?  Well, I wish I had some fire lit under me to tackle my callings in this life (hence the title of this post).  Most days I feel as if I float through life.  The enthusiasm that I had the first and even second year after Isaac’s death, to turn around the experience to help others, has diminished somewhat.  I still want to share with and help others who are grieving after the death of a child, but it is not my driving force and passion.  Everyday life has returned to – well – everyday life.  I go to work, Brenda home schools the children, we gather together in the evening, and we wrap-up our day.  Then we do it all over again.  Were we supposed to return to this hum-drum routine?  Or, rather, should we not be serving our Lord joyfully through the “normalcy” of everyday life (and not considering it “hum-drum”)?  How long do we have to endure this life?

I think there are really only three things that keep me going these days:  God’s word; the unconditional love and support of my wife and children; and my relationships with close family, friends, and brethren in Christ.  The word of God has been my life support.  If there is one positive from this experience, it is that I have learned to cling to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, especially when the world offers other means of false comfort and peace.  I realize that there are things about God that I don’t understand, and I am trying to be OK with that (do I really have a choice?).  I wish I had answers to my big questions.  But if God didn’t give Job the answers to his big questions, then I should be content with the same.

Lately, some annoyances in my life have really been getting under my skin. I have been impatient with others and harbored bitterness over some perceived injustices.  I know the Lord calls me to forgive (up to 490 times right?), but doesn’t that only apply to my “brother” and doesn’t he/she have to apologize first?  You see how I rationalize my anger?  Oh yeah, I can be angry, as long as I don’t sin, right?   Anyway, I’m not liking that stinky attitude coming out of my heart.

I hope you don’t mind me just being honest about where I am spiritually.  We could really use your prayers.  I wish I could share some great spiritual insight and breakthrough with you, but it seems that I’m just wandering through the desert land.

On a lighter note, I did want to share a recent family “selfie” below.  Yes, we do have a new dog.  His name is Stride and he appears to be a collie/German shepherd mix.  He is a little over a year old.  We adopted him near the end of 2013.  We have been challenged to get used to Stride’s energy and personality, but things are improving and we are learning to accept each other.  Our previous family dog, Mikey, died suddenly in early October 2013 while we were away on vacation.  That was a very sad experience for us.  Also, our two cats that Brenda and I had from early in our relationship died within a short time frame.  So, the last half of 2013 was a little rough for us as the older generation of our pets all died within a short period.  For us, losing a pet is not nearly the same experience as losing a child, but it is sad and difficult.

100_5658

Well, I think I will actually close a post for now!  If a fire kindles underneath me, maybe I will write a little more often in the future (no promises though).

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Andy

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Handling Grief – The First Year

We can hardly believe that one year has passed since our beloved son Isaac was promoted to Heaven. It almost seems like yesterday that the day’s horrific events were set in motion. However, we have peace because we confidently believe that Isaac is currently enjoying the wonders of Heaven in the presence of our God and Savior. As the Bible says, though we grieve, we should not grieve as those who have no hope.

The year since April 18, 2011 seems like a blur. I cannot remember much that occurred from after the funeral and memorial services through the month of May. If I had not blogged about some of it, I may not even remember details about that time. It wasn’t until after Memorial Day that I attempted to return to work and the “normalcy” of life (or a “new normal” as commonly named). I remain thankful to my employer for allowing me the space and time to grieve with no expectations. I have sadly learned that this accommodation is quite rare in today’s society in the United States of America.

Writing has helped me, as this blog turned into my public journal of our grief journey. I experience a release of my grief as my thoughts move from my mind down through my fingertips as they touch the keys. It is almost as if my grief has been cast into the words and I don’t have to carry it for a time. I am reminded of these Scripture passages:

Casting all your care upon him; for he [God] careth for you. (1Pe 5:7)

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isa 53:4)

I blog with the intent of giving glory to God as we cry out to Him and He leads us through this journey.

If I could only choose one word to honestly sum up this past year, it would be – pain. I don’t recall ever feeling such inner pain in my entire life, from the dull ache in my gut to the occasional sharp stab in my heart that is usually brought about from a flashback to those incomprehensible hours. How can one carry such horror? I know that it is only by the grace of God that I can type these words today. He carried us through. His Spirit gave us strength when our spirits had none. His love and mercy was poured out on us when this sin-cursed world and the enemy bombarded us with misery and death. The memories of that day have been replaced with memories of Isaac’s smile and laughter. I thank the Holy Spirit for the strength to fight the battle in my mind.

I see how the death of a child could tear a marriage and family apart. The resulting pressure and strain is so intense. How do parents recover? Again, for us, only by following God have two people who grieve quite differently been able to continue as one. It’s been hard – we’ve had to extend grace towards each other (probably Brenda more towards me than the other way around). We’ve had to get down in the lowest places (where most people don’t want to go) in order to lift each other out of the pit. I don’t understand a mother’s heart, but I can appreciate the unique bond that is formed with her child and the tremendous hole in her heart that results when that child is ripped away from her presence. I just cannot wait for the day that Brenda’s heart is healed when she sees Jesus and also Isaac again.

I don’t know that I’ve made any real “progress” this year. It’s been more about survival. Yet, the grief is not quite as intense here at the end of one year (although there are still some “ugly” moments). We went from experiencing shock and adrenaline during the period after the accident through the funeral, to the sudden loneliness and anguish as we absorbed (or tried to absorb) what really happened. Now, though we still grieve daily, we turn our sorrows to hope and our anger to patience. But wow, does anger seem to hang around. Why is it such a prevalent and intense emotion with grief (at least in my experience)? Perhaps, it results from realizing (or not realizing) that we are not in control, especially when something happens that we do not particularly like. I have not dealt with my anger very well and still struggle with patience and self-control. This is one area where the Spirit had given me control of and I am discouraged to see it rising up again.

I could not have anticipated the mental, emotional and physical stress that grief would place on us. There are still times when it is difficult to think clearly, as if a fog still has engulfed my mind. My emotions can still be raw and easily triggered, yet some days I just feel dry. As Brenda has mentioned to me, I lack enthusiasm for life. My heart is in Heaven, not here on earth, which is actually where it is supposed to be according to the Scriptures. Yet, I don’t believe that fact should immobilize me at times, causing me to disengage from life. Also, my body feels worn and I feel consistently tired. Maybe it has taken a long time for my body to recover from the sleepless nights in the beginning and also from too many nights staying up to blog :-). Or, maybe my emotions are just wearing me down. I sometimes wonder if this is what depression feels like. Can a Christian be depressed?

If you’re looking for my deep understanding about the sovereignty and will of God and why this happened to us, I’m sorry but I don’t have the answer. I do trust in Him and who His Word reveals Him to be. He was not surprised by this. I don’t believe that God directly caused it. We do live in a sin-cursed world and freak accidents happen. We also have an enemy whose forces may have been present and interacting with nature. I believe that God could have stopped it from happening, but I don’t know why He didn’t. I believe that He wants us to draw closer to Him and will work through all things to accomplish that purpose in His children. I am not aware of a link to any “great sin” we’ve committed that we are being punished for. Not that we are without sin or unworthy of punishment. We’ve committed some humdingers in our lives. But, I believe that they were all nailed to the cross, washed away in the precious blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ. So, though I still occasionally cry out to God for an answer, I don’t consume myself with trying to understand what is not readily evident to me. I rest in the fact of His sovereignty and love. I also trust that, as I spend time with Him in prayer, He will reveal to me what I need to know, if and when He feels I should know it.

I am hesitant to offer advice on how to grieve. I have not handled it very well when I’ve tried to handle it by myself. We are all wired differently (if you read other blogs about grief, you may notice this fact) and what is helpful for me may not be helpful for you. For example, I may like to look at pictures and listen to music while you may find those to be way too difficult and hurtful. If you are in the first year after an event that has produced great grief in your life, I would encourage you to surround yourself with a supportive community (church, family, friends, online, support group like GriefShare); I cannot imagine where would be if we had to walk this journey alone. Also, be gentle and gracious towards others and yourself. And don’t make any rash decisions because you’re probably not thinking clearly (I speak from experience. Thankfully we did not make any significant rash decisions, but I know there were times where my judgment was clouded by grief, thus inhibiting my ability to make a sound decision).

I do hope that by sharing our journey we are able to help you in some way. Mostly, I hope that we all draw closer to God and pursue holiness as we each experience our own personal trials. Do you know that as each day passes we are one day closer to Jesus’ return? I don’t claim to be a prophet, but looking at current events unfolding, it could be very soon (or maybe I’m just hoping a little too much)! Are you ready?

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:1-5)

Blessings,

Andy

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Where Are You?

Note:  I wrote this desperate prayer several days ago after a difficult morning.  That same day, I heard two songs on the radio that I’ve shared at the bottom of the post.  Praise God, I am doing better now, however I decided to post these words with the hope of helping someone else who may be struggling with the same questions and feelings. 

I can write about having faith and trusting God through this journey of grief. But when the doubt and confusion creep in, where are You Lord? When I don’t hear Your voice and I can’t even focus to pray, where are You? What is wrong with me? Have I disappointed You, that You’ve turned Your back on me? Why don’t you answer my prayers for something tangible to hold on to? Am I not seeing your blessings around me?

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body… For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Co 4:8-10,16-18)

I am filled with confusion. I can barely focus or think rationally at times. I easily forget things. Shouldn’t I be past this? It has been over ten months already. Some days I can barely cry, I feel so dried up, and then some days the tears just flow. Why is this? Just when I feel like I’m moving forward, I am overwhelmed by my grief. This journey is inconsistent and almost unbearable. Some days I can barely hold on to hope. Do You even love me (of course You do – or do I really love You)? Am I even Your child? What happened to my faith, or did I have a superficial belief? Why am I angry so much of the time (this isn’t the fruit of the Spirit)?

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. (Psa 42:5)

Lord, please come quickly because my heart is in anguish. I know this is selfish – you are waiting for others to get in the boat. I realize that I can’t just ride things out until you do come – too much is at stake. I need to have courage and lead my family. Please give me Your heart and help me be a light to others even with these clouds over me. Please help me choose You over everything else. Please be near me.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Pro 3:5-6)

Desperately trying to hope,

Andy

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

Tags: , , ,

Mad At ?

It seems that anger is a common and powerful emotion experienced during the grieving process. I testify that anger has been present in my heart during this grieving process, as chronicled during an earlier post titled “Walking It Out.”  That post was written on May 13, 2011, and almost eight months later anger is still an ever-present emotion during this journey.  Anger has quenched our fire and resulted in us being spiritually lethargic and unwilling to fight our daily battles.  Most days we just want to quit.

Most of the recent daily emails sent to us from GriefShare have been dealing with the subject of anger.  One of those email messages suggested that we write a letter to someone who we are angry at.  The problem is that I haven’t been certain with whom I am angry.  I can tell you who I vent my anger towards, but that does not mean they are the root cause of my anger.  As I’ve wrestled, struggled, vented and thrown my hands up in frustration, I can only look upwards toward Heaven.  Then, I think I see clearly at Whom I am angry.  So, I write this letter on behalf of Brenda and me with fear and trepidation…

Dear God,

We believe that we are and have been angry with You for a while.  We don’t understand why You allowed this to happen.  We believe that Your Word evidences that You are sovereign and in control of Your creation.  For example, You allowed Satan to touch Job, Job’s family and his possessions, but You placed limits on the harm that Satan could cause.  We don’t believe that You manipulate us like puppets but we do believe that You know the beginning from the end and nothing is a surprise to You.  Well, Isaac dying suddenly and accidentally sure was a surprise to us.  We’ve doubted Your wisdom and goodness in this.  We were just really getting started with his spiritual training.  He was maturing in his boyhood and wanting to break free on some adventure that he held in his heart (wow, as I write this I’m beginning to see).  Did you place that adventure in his heart?  Was it an adventure that only You could provide him with?

We’ve felt cursed since Isaac died.  We’ve wondered if we did something wrong to deserve it.  We know that we are sinners saved by grace.  But we can’t think of anything that we did intentionally that You needed to do this to get our attention.  Then again, we are thinking like humans, aren’t we?  We don’t deserve any of the blessings that you give us, even the blessing of having Isaac here for over ten years.

So, can we be assured that Your little boy who You loaned to us is now in Heaven?  He believed in Your Son, and he was only ten years old.  We don’t know that we can be absolutely certain, since we don’t see him now.  But, we are very confident in Your mercy, faithfulness and Word.  There are varying opinions of man on where children go when they die, age or state of accountability, etc.  Your Word gives us some evidence, if we understand it correctly.  We are also thankful for the occasional personal reassurances that we believe You provide to us.

We guess we are just searching for the reason why Isaac left this earth so soon.  We want to believe that there is a greater purpose and to see some fruit grow and ripen as a result (which we believe that we have).  We thank You for the encouraging words that others have shared with us.  Thank you for providing us with unexpected sources of encouragement just when we seem to be at a low point.  Please let Your Holy Spirit give us the strength to hold fast to You.

Well, that didn’t turn into the all-out venting session that I thought it would.  Whenever I want to shake my fist at God, I am reminded that He is Almighty God and that He owes me nothing.  Yet, He is love, merciful, gracious and slow to anger.  I am very thankful for that.

~Blessings,

Andy

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

Tags: , , , ,

Walking it Out

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psa 22:1)

Yesterday, I (Dad) went for a walk – a long walk, perhaps four to five miles. It was just me in my crocs, dirty jeans, t-shirt and hat. Well, the hat only made it part of the way because I threw it into the creek (it was the same hat that I wore on the day of the incident). You see, I am angry – VERY angry – and I needed to vent my anger. I expressed my anger to God and prayed that I did not curse Him in any way.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. (Eph 4:26-27)

I believe that the devil is trying to destroy our family.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1Pe 5:6-11)

I can’t even identify at whom or what I am angry. I may be angry because I had (and have) no control over what happened on April 18, 2011 (and whatever happens at anytime). I may be angry because a piece of our family puzzle is missing from this side of heaven.  I may be angry because my most important earthly relationship with my wife has been severely strained. I may be angry because people are expecting things from me right now when I have nothing to give.

I may be angry that God allowed this to happen. He did not step down off of His throne on April 18. Not that we are anyone special or even as righteous as Job, or experienced anywhere near the amount of devastation that Job did, but I can imagine a dialogue similar to the one recorded in the first chapter of the book of Job occurring before the throne of God prior to April 18. God has blessed us incredibly and perhaps our devotion to Him is being tested. Even if Satan meant this for evil, God intends this for His good. I believe that because His Word says so and I have experienced His goodness through other dark episodes in my life. However, my faith just seems to be barely enough to believe it and sustain me through this overwhelming grief.

If you ask us how we are doing, please be prepared for our honest answer. We are not doing well. Please forgive us if we are less than gracious at times but our emotions are very raw. We are praying for grace in our relationships with other people. However, we are finding it difficult to understand some of our recent conversations and interactions with people. We believe that people mean well and may not really know what to say to us. But some words do hurt and you probably don’t truly understand what we are going through. Again, please forgive us.  (Update: For clarification, this only refers to a very limited number of people.  Most of our interactions have been encouraging and uplifting.  I did not intend to cause undue concern or to be critical of others’ intentions.)

God is not giving us the big answers. But He is giving us just enough grace and strength to make it through each day. Please pray that we reach the point where we feel His peace in our heart and can move from the words and feelings expressed in the verse at the beginning of this post to these words:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psa 23:1-6)

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: