Why don’t you write about grief anymore?
I’ve been asked this question a time or two.
First, I don’t write much on anything anymore except for critical essays on John Milton or papers comparing writing pedagogies, both graduate classes that will be finished in three weeks, hallelujah!
Writing about painful circumstances used to be therapeutic as I sorted through my ideas, beliefs, confusion, and the questions of others which usually sounded something like, “How could you move on so quickly? Or fielding suggestions which seemed to accuse me of not grieving long enough (whatever that means). I don’t feel a need to justify my decisions anymore so the grief subject is not one that usually comes to mind when I sit down to write. I’d rather write about the present than constantly focus on the pain of the past.
I also don’t write about grief much anymore because I truly believe that what you allow your thoughts to dwell on will define you as a person and ultimately define your life, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Philippians 4:8. I’ve chosen to focus my thoughts on the blessing of this life, right now. I’ve had horrible tragedies occur, but I choose not to consistently dwell on these.
For example, if I had been literally raped, I wouldn’t want to be defined by this one action that occurred in my life. I would in no way want to give a rapist that kind of power over me, just as I don’t want to give the Devil and sin a hold over my life in terms of the tragedies that occurred because of mankind’s fall. The fall is the past, but humanity is free because of Christ’s sacrifice, free from guilt, free from dwelling in pain, and free in Him. I understand and respect that there is a time to mourn what was stolen, a time to acknowledge the pain that a tragedy infused into a life, acknowledge how that pain has changed a person, but I will not dwell in the horribleness forever and ever. This is not how I believe we are intended to live life. I was raped, in a sense, raped of my idea of a perfect child and blessed with Luke instead. Raped of my idea of growing old with my children’s biological father and instead, through his death, I have gained so much. People may say, “That’s not fair that he had to die for you to gain,” or “How could you consider his death your gain?” It isn’t fair if you look at it through the lens of humanity, but when you look at it through God’s lens, it becomes crystal clear. Jason won. He believed in Jesus Christ, and now he has the victory that we as Christians put our hope and faith in. He has his crown of life, and God blessed me through the journey.
I think about today, Easter, and the significance of this one day. Christ died, a tragedy, and it is meaningless without the resurrection. If we focus on the cross it becomes just a really sad story. As Christians, we should focus on the empty tomb, that’s the good part, the part that should cause us to cheer! Jesus ripped down the veil that separated God from mankind, and he redeemed us, not even through being nailed to the cross but through his defeat of the Devil and sin’s hold on our lives. The tragedies of my life do not define me as a person, just as the tragedy of the cross does not define my Savior. Without the blessing of the resurrection Christ’s death just sucks; it is gut wrenching suckiness. Without the resurrection of a Savior, we have no hope, no hope for our loved ones who have passed before us, no hope for salvation, no hope that God has a better plan than we could ever understand or comprehend.
Jesus Christ turned my mourning into dancing and created beauty from the ashes. I have a life that I never in a million years thought I could have because I didn’t stay stuck in the muck. The Bible talks about a time to mourn because mourning is not supposed to last forever. There is a time for grief, for pouring over pictures, for crying, for sobbing, for watching the video of a loved one over and over again, for reading and rereading love letters, and then there is a time to consciously make the choice to live. To move away from the pain, move away from the things of despair, move out of the past, and into something that is life giving. We need to consciously move away from the empty tomb and into a resurrected story.
“He is not here, he has risen just as he said!” Matthew 28:6.