Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you did not know what to say or how to respond?

Have you walked with people through hard times or even tragedy?

I remember when my family fell apart. It was the worst experience of my life. I received every response in the book from people trying to provide help and encouragement.

To be honest, people rarely know what the “right” thing to say is. I still shake my head at some of the responses I was given.

No two hurts, wounds, or pain are the same. We might have experienced something that resembles their situation, but no two hearts are broken identically.

Fact: Because you think you “get” pain, does NOT mean you get another person’s pain.

I have a running internal list of WHAT NOT TO SAY when responding to others experiencing hardship.

Get over it or Move on.

This response makes me cringe every time I hear it. I would eliminate this phrase if I could. These phrases are meant to be well intentioned, but always cause more harm than good.

The truth is that we don’t know where people are in their process of healing. Pain hurts, and it can hurt for a long time. There is no timeline for healing. There is no timeline to work through grief. These phrases have a way of dismissing that process.

I get that or I understand.

This statement is most common. They are also well intentioned. On the surface these statements can potentially bridge the gap for mutual understanding, and in some situations it does. However, the negative part about this statement is subtle. Again no two experiences are identical. No one responses to those circumstances identically either. The situation may have similarities, but they are different.

People need to feel validated and heard. Sometimes saying these phrases can take away from hearing where that person is, or acknowledging what they are currently feeling. A lot of the time people use this statement as a means to then tell their own story. I would caution against that. Listen to people carefully. Validate where they are in their own process. It matters.

I know what you’re going through.

This would fall into the category above as well. We don’t know what another person is really going through. They might not even be able to articulate it themselves. For me personally, these kinds of statements make me shut down more than anything.

The value is in the listening. Validate where the person is and how they are feeling. If they seem stuck in their process, encourage them gently with some steps to take without dismissing the process.

What I have found to work, as well as does not defuse the conversation, are phrases like: I’m sorry. I hate “this” for you. That’s really hard. This sucks.

Listen to hear where the person is. Sit with them in that place. Validate their process and pain. Always let it be about the other person not you.

What kind of phrases do you use when listening to other people?

How do these phrases make you feel?

Has anyone ever said these statements to you?


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life chapter

Every season of life has it’s eb’s and flows. Every chapter is written with both beginnings and endings – joy and sorrow. New characters, dreams, and life lessons are introduced, as well as new hurts and grief. Maybe these are just the realities of growing pains, but no season or chapter is ever easy.

I look back and can see my different struggles and areas of growth through every season. College ignited questions of identity and faith; interestes and direction. After college surfaced the tension of anxiety and dream. Wide open spaces of creativity and curiousity led the charge. My late twenties and early thirties have brought about new dreams, locations, and career shifts. It has been in these last few chapters where I feel like I have fumbled around the most.

Every season carries the weight of real trials and challenges.

Every season carries with it current issues for that age bracket. The things that I struggle with in my early thirties are not the same as those issues that seemed hard in college. However,  I do believe that each chapter brings with it the challenge of identity and community.


College is easy to find somewhere to belong. People were always readily availableto interact with and cultivate lasting relationships. Post college begins the effort to find community. The abundance of people groups drastically diminish after college. So we find small groups, work friends, or maybe join a running group.


The twenties begin the stage of “all your friends” starting to get engaged and married. You might even experience a time of long-term transition with moving to a new city, or experiencing the revolving door of friends moving away.

The questions of our twenties looks like, “Do I want to be married?” and “what do I want to do in life?” In this stage, we are still fumbling around trying to figure out who we are and where we fit.


My thirties have been a variation of my twenties. I am more comfortable with who I am. My dreams and career are taking on a much clearer form. But the questions change a bit in this chapter. The question of the thirties look more like, “why am I not married?” and “why is community so hard?”

Community is a challenge in every season, but the thirties bring with it a grey area of no place to land. We are the “in-betweeners” for church ministries, as in we are not college kids, or young adults (groups dominated by early 20’s folks.) We are the not-sure-where-you-fit group.

By this stage most friends, who got married in my 20’s stage, are now on their second or third kid. So I  experience an even more displaced and lonely feeling as a single person. Finding good community seems like the biggest challenge in this chapter of life. As a single person, how do I fit with my married friends? In a church community, where is the place I can land where there are other’s “like me?”

As a married person, I wonder if you struggle with trying to know how to relate to your single friends, or even friends with kids.

Every stage of life has it’s question marks and challenges.

What are YOUR  questions and challenges in YOUR season?

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I often use the phrase, “I’m working on it” when referring to my heart. I am learning that in reality I use this phrase as a shield to guard against actually having to confront my messy heart.

I used this phrase recently, and afterward I had to ask myself the question, “am I really working on it?” I can play this card as a safeguard – as if saying, “I’m working on it” lets me off the hook for responding out of my fears. By hiding behind “working on it,” I give my fears permission to take root in me.

The reality is that our mess is really hard to work on. It takes courage to confront our own hearts. My heart resembles a crater field after the dust has settled from battle. It displays the wounds of life. I have craters with other people’s names on them. I also have holes that echo the natural consequences of my unwise decisions. I get overwhelmed when staring at all the craters in my heart. I have also experienced seasons of ignoring my wounds and walking away to find comfort elsewhere.

The false advertising of life is that pursuing comfort elsewhere does not add wounds to the already broken heart.

As the wounds of my heart run deep, they manifest in different masked ways. If feels scary to confront them. Saying it out loud makes them more real.

The foundation of my crater field happened in high school when the affair of my father came out. The news shattered my world and brought on a deep level of pain I never knew could be reached. This grief sowed seeds of real fear in the core of my heart. These seeds manifest themselves in ways I am aware of as well as in ways I am still learning to identify.

I struggle with abandonment in paralyzing and infuriating ways. I guard my heart so tight that pain can’t find a way in. This fear paralyzes me from taking risks to experience real life and real intimacy.

I also fear being replaced all the time. I fear intimacy as it forces me into places that require the risk of being vulnerable and my heart exposed. I fear being a “meantime” friend as if it were only a matter of time before my friends find someone better than me. I am not using “better” in a prideful way, but voicing my deep insecurity that keeps my heart on lock down. I hate the nagging feeling of always holding my breath in waiting. I even imagine, and play out in my head, being left by the other person as a way to prepare myself for pain. By actively staying in this place of fear, I voluntarily place the shackles on my life of being enslaved to those fears.

I hate this long standing pattern of life for me. God has already done a ton of healing in me. I can honestly say that I am more whole than I used to be. It is a conscious effort to choose to trust people. I am trying to get used to sitting in a place of discomfort and lack of control. That place is terrifying for me.

There’s still the question of what if someone did decide to leave? This is a real possibility. I still grieve the loss of some really close friendships. It is even more of a possibility as our culture moves further away from commitment.

God is my redeemer. He promises that he “began a good work in me and carries it on to completion.” I have now edited my comfort phrase from “I’m working on it” to “He’s working on me.” I cannot heal my own heart. God is gentle as he waits for me to surrender my white flag to him. God has been redirecting my life out of the desert. I have spent too many weeks/months/years living life there.

Instead of adding bricks to the Great Wall of me, I desire to begin surrendering myself to him. Hillsong has a great song with lyrics that state,“rid me of myself, I belong to you…lead me to the cross.” This is my hard prayer to pray.

What are you “working on?”

How is He working on you?

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photo 1

Easter is an emotional process. It should be.

Every holiday carries the weight of emotion actually. Holiday’s are filled with the tension of joy and sorrow.

Easter for me is an emotional process. Easter is a yearly reality check. The cross always beckons me to listen and examine my heart.

Easter is the process of three days of brokenness, waiting, and redemption – pain, silence, and forgiveness. Jesus experienced life’s greatest version of brokenness and pain on that  Friday. He took on our sins. He felt the darkness of rejection and silence for the first time from his father. He was physically broken – spit on, cursed at, and killed in humiliation.

The disciples lost a leader, a dream, and their best friend. That sat stunned, locked up in a room not knowing what to do next; what life now meant. The sounds of thick silence and waiting were all that could be heard. Internal struggles and questions were written on downcast faces.

The process of life is just this. Transformation takes the process of brokenness, wrestling in darkness, and then the redemption of healing. Life begins at the end of this three day illustration.

Every Easter I am heavy hearted as I remember the brokenness I have experienced in my life, as well as my current struggles of darkness. It is hard. The process of change is just dang hard and humiliating. It is also in those dark places that I really feel the weight of grace and forgiveness.

Jonah spent days in the darkness of a whale. He wrestled in great tension. It was in that dark waiting place where grace and forgiveness came into focus for him.

But on the third daylight floods the world again. A tomb is emptied and death is conquered. Brokenness and pain have not won. Redemption and forgiveness is alive. Hope and dreams are reborn and life begins again.

Easter is where grace and forgiveness come into focus. I am so grateful that the story always ends in joy and hope.


Where are you in your life’s “Easter” process?

Are you experiencing brokenness, struggling in the waiting, or has the light risen in your dark night?

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Sometimes I feel like Swiss cheese of a person. cheese

I have holes in me that seem to still have question marks – still ache from time to time. Grief reminds me of my holes. Each one has a label of sorts.

Some days I spend time wondering about what would have been with my holes. You see because grief leave a mark and void in our being. We learn to compensate and function through these holes, but they are real and very present.

Some of my holes ache in simple ways. I miss everyday things and routines that could’ve been.

The other day I was thinking about my dad. He loves gardening and traveling. We used to have a big garden and evidence of mysterious places ventured around the house. Looking back it makes me wonder… I wonder what life would’ve been like for me on those everyday levels had he not started a new life. I wonder about what different memories I would’ve had in my life had those small things been around.

There is deep grief that is felt when change happens. I ache over small and everyday things that I miss. I am not a person who likes change, especially when it is a result of hurt.

Small things are just as valuable of memories as the big things. Smells, words, and familiar places can bring out memories and questions. I think it is okay to take the time to touch the scars and feel the ache.

Every chapter of life will bring on different stings to grief, but it will also bring on new healing. Grief is not a linear process. It has no warning or timeline. Grief only has a Healer. 

Joy and sorrow are harnessed together for life.

What kind of every day things do you miss right now?

How are you experiencing grief these days?

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SO excited to share with you all the movie trailer for Inciting Incidents!

I love the that we, as authors, were given a chance to speak about our chapters and the heart’s behind this book.

Having watched the video, I have even more respect and admiration for my fellow authors.

This video captures the essence of what the book, Inciting Incidents is about.


I absolutely recommend getting a copy!

Click here to buy!

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“All People suffer loss. All loses are bad, only bad in different ways. No two loses are ever the same. Each loss stands on it’s own and inflicts a unique kind of pain.”

– Jerry Sittser

No one can escape experiencing loss in their life. It is inevitable. Life is tethered to joy and sorrow. Every season has its own felt grief.

The truth about loss is that it’s not comparable. 

I experienced loss within my family structure. My parents separated and divorced when I was a Junior in high school. That year changed my life. My father made the choice to end a marriage with my mother and move on to another woman.

His choices changed my life forever. I not only lost a cohesive family unit, but I lost an every day father and parent. I lost my self-worth and security. I lost stability and sureties that I once knew. Fears were real; they flooded my life and identity.

Death and divorce have shared feelings and responses. They have a kind of sisterhood of effects. I write in depth about these subtle differences in a chapter I wrote for “Inciting Incidents.”

Divorce is hard in that it is not a death. It carries the same created voids as death, but divorce has no closure like a death. Divorce carries the weight of rejection in loss. I felt a lot of rejection in that someone else was chosen over me. My value felt rejected. Divorce says, “Sorry, not you.” I felt given up on. There is also a unique sting in rejection in that it is not a mutual decision. Both experiences come with an extreme sense of loss. However, the difference being that death is involuntary and divorce is a decision. There is an end point with death, but divorce marks the death of a relationship.

The pain of rejection is hard to find words for. Without being able to articulate my thoughts and feelings at the time, I found myself in a deep season of grieving, mourning the loss of everything I had known to be normal. I was not sure how to carry on. I was not sure what life was supposed to look like after that night. I found myself battling depression. I slept as often I as I could. I skipped a lot of school, as studying seemed pointless. I had trouble relating to my friends. I mourned the days where I just worried about which boy I liked, passing notes in the hallway, playing sports, and negotiating curfew times.

This kind of emotional conflict was so new to me, that it consumed my heart and I did not know how to deal with it. I am not talking about trivial arguments or getting into fights. I am talking about deep conflict where things just don’t feel like they make sense. I had so many questions that had no answers. How do families dissolve? How does that much deception go unnoticed? How do I even begin to think about forgiveness in the midst of such real pain?”

Grief steam rolls through our life. Pain matters. It is real, every ounce of it. To read more of my story check it out HERE!

How have you experienced grief in you life?

How have you handled loss in your life?


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