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Wednesday Wondering - June 12, 2024

Psalm 56: 8

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”


Isaiah 26: 3

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”


Reflection

It is one of the most challenging seasons of the year, construction season. It is the time of year when I think that, for the even the best of us, our patience is tested by all of the lane closures, detours, and traffic snarls, that we have to deal with. I must say that I have a great deal of empathy for my partner as they have to sit in the passenger seat of our vehicle while I navigate the mess of traffic in this city. I have wondered how they actually do this, but then again I have noticed that they tend to get very quiet as we drive through and my anger flares. It is easy to blame the traffic, and construction season for my anger, but I know that that is not really the case. I wonder about anger quite often. I wonder about where my anger comes from but if I really think about it I know the truth of the matter. 


C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.” When I reread this quote the other day it really hit me. I know they say that there are five common stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I also know that these stages are in no way linear, they don’t just come around once, but we move in and through these over and over. For some of us, we seem to sometimes get stuck in one or the other of these stages. I seem to quite often be in anger. I understand that we have dealt with a lot of grief in our life, as a family. I also understand that, for the most part, I have processed through a lot of grief, I have healed from a lot of grief, yet I find myself quite often back at anger. But I also know that grief is not something that goes away, it is always with us. So often in the world people tell us to ‘get over it’ or too ‘move on.’ What are we supposed to ‘get over,’ what are we supposed too ‘move on’ to? That is not the way that grief works, we might begin to move forward but we don’t ever get over it or move on from it, we learn to live with it. I once read that our hearts build scar tissue over our brokenness, from grief, but it never goes away, we just learn to live again with it. I believe this to be true. 


I have been wondering though about anger and how we often think of grief as tied to loss and death. I think that there is much more to grief. Grief comes from unfulfilled dreams. Grief can come from change that is not understood. Grief can come from broken relationships, unkind words, and challenging family dynamics, grief comes in many forms, from many different places. From all of this grief, anger can surface. Yet, in many ways we have been conditioned to hide our anger and our grief. The world struggles to make sense of grief in another, we don’t know that words to say, so we default to the platitudes mentioned above. 


I have been thinking about my grief and my anger. I have lost some important people in my life and I recognize that they are not here to see important milestones in the life of our family and that makes me angry. I am angry at them for leaving too soon. I am angry at God that they were taken away from us all. Sometimes I am just angry, but when I read the quote from C.S. Lewis I see that that anger is intimately tied to my grief. Jessica Lusk Dennis, in her reflection on grief speaks to it using an image of a race car driver, “This vicious, yet breathtakingly beautiful grief journey reminds me of a race car on a track. Going around and around. Fast. Breaking for an oil change and tire change. Then off again at full speed. People cheering on the outside, waving their hands in approval. But they can’t see inside of the car. They can’t see the sweat dripping off the racer’s brow. They can’t feel his heart beating with fear and excitement. They don’t see what’s happening behind the wheel. They only see the outside. I only see what you choose to show on the outside. You only see what I choose to show on the outside. We won’t always see one another’s brokenness. We won’t always see one another’s fears and sadness.”


The reading from Psalm 56 speaks to grief and sadness. It speaks to the tears that we cry, when we are alone and when we are with others, and it speaks to the understanding the God knows, understands, feels, each and every one of our tears. It can comfort us to know that in our grief, God is with us. To know that each one of our tears is seen by God. The verse from Isaiah, then speaks to the comfort that is found in God. When we allow ourselves to trust in the presence of God with us in all the moments of out lives. To trust that God is with us in the times of celebration, but also in the times of sorrow and grief, in the times of anger. Although the reading from Isaiah does speak to God’s presence it speaks to something more, it speaks to trusting in God’s presence. So, when I get angry, when I sit with my anger long enough that she tells me her name is grief, I will trust in God. I will trust in God’s presence with at those times. I will trust.


Prayer

God of all eternity, be with us. Help us to trust in your presence at all times in our lives. Give us the courage to sit with our anger long enough to hear it call itself grief. Give the wisdom to give ourselves grace in the challenging times of life. Give us the patience with ourselves and others, knowing that we each deal with the grief of life in our ways, and our own time. We ask this in the name of Love Incarnate, your son, Jesus. Amen.


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