Friday, September 6, 2013

Grief - lesson one

My nephew died.  He was only 19.

Through the past two weeks, I have been learning the lessons of grief.  Our family has been walking the paths of sorrow through the valley of the shadow of death.  My nephew's mother is my sister and we are walking through the valley together, along with many other people. 

I know that other lessons and insights will come in the next weeks, months and years, but I am most struck today with how grief reveals our true self.

I have heard it said many times that as we grow older we become more of what we really are.  We lose either the ability or the desire to cover up our flaws.  We don't care what people think.  We let the world see who we really are on the inside.  This concept has often challenged me to be better and more led by the presence of the Spirit.  When the time comes that I am no longer capable of covering up my raw, true insides, I want peace and love and joy and self-control and patience to come through.  Not the selfish, insecure, prideful person who tries to reign in me.  The process is taking me an entire lifetime -- it is terribly difficult.

So, when I notice other people, I am also noticing myself.  Making observations of others, making corrections in me.

I say all of that to say this:  Grieving makes us raw and revealed.  In the past two weeks it has looked like this:

Servants serve.
Cooks cook the most delicious of meals.
Artists make art that inspires and comforts.
Gift givers give gifts that become treasures.
Talkers talk.
Angry people become angry.
Listeners listen attentively.
Runners run long distances.
Problem solvers solve problems that others can't begin to figure out.
Writers write beautiful notes and essays.
Withdrawn people withdraw even more.
Wise people share wisdom that gets us through a tough hour or day.

And all of it, the good and the bad, is okay.  We're on a journey to become more and more like Jesus and none of us is there, yet.  Our journey has taken a very sharp and painful turn, and in this turn we have lost our cover-up.  The grief has taken away our desire and ability to 'look good' around other people.  We are exposed.  We have become real.