On Wednesday, I hit an emotional brick wall! I may have just come out of shock! I had been feeling pretty good and thought I had been transitioning fairly well. I knew I was to have “alone time” with the Lord. Time to learn from Him and to follow the impressions that He has given in my mind and heart. I understood that and thought it was needed and beneficial.
I had not slept well on Tuesday night. I had had a dream that Terrie wasn’t happy with me and so when I awoke, I was somewhat sad about the previous night, but I understood it was just a dream. As I preparing for the day, I began to pray and seek God’s direction and will for me for that day. He answered that prayer by showing me another aspect of walking that “highway” with Him.
I did not get any immediate thoughts, other than I wanted to look at the grief curve again. I looked at The Kubler-Ross model on Wikipedia . The model describes five emotional stages that most people go through following a crisis, such as the death of a loved one. It is said not everyone goes through all five or in the order shown or only going through a stage once. The five stages are: Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; Acceptance.
I read them and defined them in the simplest of terms: I was not denying Terrie had died, I wasn’t angry about it, I could not make a deal with God to bring her back, and I was very much aware, that was it; FINE-the end! That was reality, no matter how I felt or what I did! But intrinsically, I knew there had to be more to it than the way I defined the terms.
I went through a tearful day. I wasn’t hearing for God and that spooked me. I knew He had not left me or forsaken me, but He wasn’t talking to me and that saddened me. My progress on the “highway of grief” came to a stop.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 ESV
But I came to realize to stop was okay. It allowed me to rest, reflect, and gain my bearings. It gave me the opportunity to realize I was trying to go down a different path that I was not ready to go down. It gave me the opportunity to make adjustments in my attitude and my desires. I was trying to “bargain” with God and He knew it was not a good deal for me. He led me beside the still waters to calm me and I needed calming.
The next morning, I felt like I had regained my bearings. My heart was different in that, I just wanted to follow Him, not my desires, just His desires for me. He knows what I want and if it is in His plan for my life, it will come. If it is not in His plan for my life, it will not come and I didn’t need it. I still have the desire, but I’m willing to wait on His timing. In that waiting, I believe I will continue to heal, to learn, to observe, and grow in appreciation of my time with the Master. His rod and staff, they comfort me.
I have a tendency to rush things and not appreciate the moment, to get to the “next thing”. Here are two example of this in my life.
I went to Alexandra, VA to visit with my sister, after our mother died. I had just a couple of days to see her, but I wanted to see as many of the sites as I could. We got on her Harley and drive to Mount Vernon to tour George Washington’s home; we went to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and saw the Secret Service deal with a man who wanted to see the President; we went to CNN headquarters and I met some of the on-air personalities (she was working there at the time); we saw the Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial, The Air and Space Museum, and The Smithsonian Museum. At the Smithsonian, she wanted to show me Judy Garland’s shoes from “The Wizard of Oz”and Bill Clinton’s saxophone, but those things were not important to me, I wanted to see “real” history. Any one of those places requires a great deal of time to really “see” it, but this was done in one day. Certainly, not enough time to appreciate what they had to offer.
Terrie and I went to Yellowstone National Park a few years ago. I had wanted to go there since I was a boy. There was so much to see. With Terrie’s handicap, she was unable to get to some of those places, but I had borrowed a video camera and would video where she couldn’t go and bring it back to her to watch in the van and if she wanted more, I could get additional film for her. There was one thing that I really wanted to see – bears! I have always like bears, ever since grade school and seeing the California grizzly bear on the state flag. I always thought I would like to wrestle a grizzly…not a wild one, but one that wouldn’t bite my head off! We were driving through the park and we saw group of people on the side of the road and a Ranger. They were watching a black bear! I stopped the van to park, but the Ranger said I couldn’t park there; I would have to go about a half of a mile downhill, which I did. I was so excited to get to see a bear in the wild! I was walking quickly back up the hill to group. I thought I would die of a heart attack trying to get to see this bear! I reached the group to realize, he was kind of far away from us and we couldn’t see him all that well. I took a couple of pictures and went back to the van.
So, why mention these things? I was at an important time in my life and I rushed through it, resulting in regrets. Once again, I am at an important time in my life and I don’t want to have regrets. To prevent that, I must not rush through this experience. I don’t want to linger and stay longer than I have to, but I don’t want to leave before I’m supposed to.
Coming back to the grief curve, I don’t know at which stage I’m at right now and it’s not important for me to identify. As I understand it, you may hit some of them or all of them or you may revisit some of them more than once. The distinction between how one normally feels can be slight. Some would say if I go back to work, I am in denial, but if I go back to work to earn a living and to keep me occupied, I don’t think that is being in denial. But if I use an emotion or action to suppress my grief, I can see that as a denial. I’m not trained to understand these things, but I don’t discount them either. Some may be helped by having a label for that drawer, but I didn’t.
I just want to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit every day. I am to continue to give thanks in all things, to find some good in what I am experiencing. I am learning the principle of Philippians 4: 11-12 NASB
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
As I understand this passage, Paul was contend if he had money or not, if he had possession or not, IF HE HAD A WIFE OR NOT! What was the secret that Paul knew? Is it not found in verse 13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I must lean continuously on the Lord. He will sustain me, He will keep me going at the pace I need to go.
Perhaps I am seeing a greater need to trust in Him completely for every need I have. I don’t have to understand, but I do need to trust.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 ESV