Emotions Like a Rollercoaster

Loss is a simple yet complex word that acts as a foundation leading in several directions. It is defined as the fact or process of losing something or someone. It has been said that Christians are a bit like teabags; you don't know what they are made of until you put them into hot water. The last couple of days have left me feeling like this. As I have been pondering a few things, it has left me thinking about how life is such a magnificent thing that God has blessed each of us with. But yet, with life comes death, and with death comes a roller coaster of emotions.

Grief feels like a nasty bully that won’t leave you alone until you deal with it; it is a painful emotion. However, grief is a gift given to us by God as a tool to get through the transitions of life. Feeling a sense of loss reminds us that life is precious. There does come a point though where holding on to our loss becomes a self-journey, rather than a trusted God journey. This week, I have had to consciously remember to lean on the strength of God and not the strength of myself. Today marked the 8 year anniversary since Grandma passed away on May 18th 2010. Every year it doesn't get any easier. But every year we get the privilege of being able to remember and reflect on such a beautiful, honourable, kind, loving, faithful Women of God, Daughter, Mum, Grandmother, and friend. Grandma has left behind such a beautiful legacy in her children, and I admire just how much Mum's servant heart reflects that of Grandma. On a day that could be filled with so much sadness, I am filled with so much joy because of the memories we still have and will forever have. And while our time with her was limited, it was some of the best times of my life. Of course I miss her every day. She was such a solid rock in this family. There is definitely a piece missing, but we are so blessed with what we can still carry to remember her by. She will never be forgotten.

As I have reflected and mourned, I have had to surrender this loss to God and allow him to sit beside me and hold my hand during this roller coaster of emotions. I have had to remember that it is ok to feel grief but not to let grief define who I am, or to stop me from living out the life laid out by God. Emotions help us release what we are feeling. They help us to come to a place where we can function again and keep moving forward. Loss isn’t necessarily just defined to the losing of a person, but it could be a job, a house, a pet. There are numerous things that, over our lifetime, would fit into the category of loss. And something I am still learning is that it is ok to mourn these things as well. Because when something is lost, there is a gap. For a while it is uncomfortable. It could be upsetting, frustrating, annoying. It could cause anger and hate. In the moment I definitely wouldn’t call the feeling of loss a blessing. In fact I would say it is the polar opposite. But God really did bless us with the feeling of loss and grief as a way to help with transitions, and to help us grow in our relationship with him. These deep, overwhelming and uncomfortable feelings help teach us to lean into God in all situations, especially during the hard times.

What does loss look like for you at the moment? Where does God fit into it? When faced with loss, God doesn’t require us to stay strong. He doesn’t require us to look ok. He doesn’t require us to forget about it. All he wants is for us to seek him and allow him to journey with us through every turn and loop that the roller coaster takes us on.

More Sense of the Bible

I am discovering recently new joy in reading the Bible through delving a little deeper into what some refer to as the historical arc. The Bible is the story of humanity and it’s relationship with God. It starts with creation, progresses through the fall of man and God’s subsequent restoration of what was lost. I’m learning to read the Bible through the eyes of those who first wrote and received the original documents; understanding Jesus’ words for example understanding that He was a first century Jew in Israel NOT a 21st century white guy from the other side of the planet.

So often when reading the Bible, things just don’t make sense in light of my culture, my time in history and my upbringing. I’m learning that when it doesn’t make sense then there is probably something going on in the culture of the time that made sense to them and if I can find out what that was then I too might have a deeper understanding of how I can more closely embody the life of Jesus.

Here are a couple of examples:-

At the corps I go to the CO’s are just starting a series in the Ten Commandments and we were reminded that these were not just rules for rules sake, they were incredibly revolutionary and progressive ideas that the recipients some time to get their heads around. They weren’t a restrictive list of “do not’s” designed to take the fun out of life but the basis of a deeply loving and intimate relationship akin to a marriage. The revelation of this goodness finds it’s fullest fulfilment in Jesus.

Take the Old Testament story of Abraham called by God to sacrifice his eldest son Isaac for example. I’ve heard this preached on quite few times and it’s usually from the point of view that Abraham was so committed to God that he was willing to, without question, go to the extreme measure of sacrificing his promised, miracle son because God had asked him too. So does that mean if I felt God asked me to do the same thing I should do that? NO!!! Something doesn’t add up about the story till you realise that Abraham and all his ancestors had grown up in a culture where they worshipped many God’s and you had to please them all in order for them to be kind to you; and one of the common and most valuable sacrifices you could make was your first born son. God’s request to Abraham would have seemed pretty run of the mill in light of his upbringing.

But then the story takes a twist; this one God (rather than many) stops Abraham, provides the ram for a sacrifice thus saving Isaac. For probably the first time in history we have a God who provides rather than just demands to be served; a God who is kind rather than cruel and indifferent.

There are hundreds more examples throughout scripture. Can I encourage you take your reading of scripture seriously and discover that God is truly as good and powerful and gracious as he says He is.

Some resources that are helping me on this journey are:

Lois Tveberg’s book, Walking in the dust of Rabbi Jesus.

Books and videos by Shane Willard (and plenty of stuff on You Tube).

Rob Bell’s book, What is the Bible.