I haven't always been a podcast listener. Honestly for quite a while I couldn't really see the appeal. Growing up, talk radio always seemed super boring to me, and isn't that basically what a podcast is? Who wants to just listen to people talk for an hour? Well, then I stumbled upon a podcast called "The Next Right Thing", designed especially for people who struggle making decisions (that would be me). Not only did the description pique my interest but I also loved that it tended to be only about 10-15 minutes long.
Fast forward a few years, and I have now totally changed my perspective on podcasts. I still don't listen to quite as many as my husband does, but I have come to genuinely appreciate and enjoy a good handful of them, even some of the hour-long ones. Still, The Next Right Thing - the original one that drew me in - remains my all-time favorite. Secretly I kind of hope my writing sounds even a little bit like Emily P. Freeman (the creator of The Next Right Thing).
Well, in one of Emily's podcast episodes, she ended with a quote that really caught my attention. It's from a book called The Holy Longing, by Ronald Rolheiser, and it says this: "We face many deaths within our lives, and the choice is ours as to whether those deaths will be terminal (snuffing out life and spirit), or paschal (opening us up to new life). Grieving is the key to the latter.”
Now to fully understand this quote, you may want to listen to the entire episode (after all, it is only 11 and a half minutes long), but the part that really jumped out at me was the final sentence: "Grieving is the key to the latter."
I remember a friend once saying that when you really think about it, life is a constant series of losses. And we are continually presented with the opportunity to grieve each of those losses. But how do we learn to grieve well? Or how do we learn to grieve, period?
I suppose in some ways grieving is one of those things you learn by almost being forced into it. You can't really learn how to grieve until you experience a loss. And then when you do, sometimes grief is going to have its way with you whether you want it to or not.
But I wonder if many of us assume we don't really need to grieve because our loss isn't nearly as severe as this person's or that person's loss. Who am I to grieve the loss of my friend who moved away when I know someone else who is grieving the loss a beloved parent who died? Or, why should I feel the need to grieve the end of one season of my kid's childhood when I have friends who are grieving the loss of a child who died as an infant?
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we assume there is some kind of universal measuring stick that determines who can or should grieve? Well you can grieve this, but you can't grieve that. Maybe we spend more energy trying to determine if we should or shouldn't be grieving than we do trying to learn what it actually means to grieve.
I'm not saying we should all be wallowing around in grief all the time, but I do wonder if sometimes the process of grieving is more life-giving than we imagine it to be. Maybe we're scared to grieve because we feel like it will turn us into sad, depressed people who cry all the time. But think about how often the Bible talks about things like sorrow and mourning turning into joy and dancing. It's almost like allowing ourselves to feel and experience grief is the very thing that will lead us into deeper and more lasting joy.
Imagine Jesus saying these words, from John 12:24 in The Message translation:
"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal."
There's a lot I don't know about grieving. But maybe part of it is that act of letting something go. Maybe it's naming the loss as best as you can and then placing it in God's hands as best as you can. Maybe grieving is something to be welcomed more than feared. Because maybe, in some mysterious way, grieving our losses transforms both them and us.
Pray with me...
... Lord, help all in the ACSD community to learn to grieve well
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
... God, lead us through times of grieving into times of joy
Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b
... Father, give us hearts to empathize with all those around us who may be grieving
What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory