The difficulty with change
I am a creature of habit and the few constant things that I control in life seem to bring me a sense of comfort. I always sleep on my side of the bed regardless of what bed I might be sleeping in. I sit in the same seat Sunday after Sunday in my church; right side, 5th row back , 1st seat next to the aisle. I suggested to my wife a couple months ago that we change our location in the church. Our row was once filled with family but now has become somewhat empty because of all the death. Sitting there had become emotionally difficult for me. Stacey responded by saying she has had enough change in life and was comfortable with our routine and refused to change. So there she sits in row 5, right side, 2nd chair in from the aisle, Sunday after Sunday right next to me.
I suppose there is a comfort in controlling the small things in life because much in life seems out of our control. Life is full of daily choices of great and little consequence. I choose the time to set my alarm, I choose whether to forgo shaving, I select my clothing, I choose to blog or not to blog and so it goes. Then there are the choices that change your life, things like choosing a wife, a college, a career, having children or the purchase of a home. Then there are the changes that I did not choose.
Losing a son has changed many things in the last year and a half. One of the most difficult adjustments to life after death are the many heightened emotional changes that come. Sudden change is disquieting and disturbing, it is the enemy of control and comfort. Grief causes me to be emotional and sometimes the emotion is difficult to manage. I am learning to live with this, it’s not all bad, but at the same time it’s not all good either.
I expect to be emotional during the holidays and I can sense the emotional buildup. Last Sunday at church, during a Christmas song, before God and everybody, I stood and left my assigned seat being overwhelmed with emotion.
The Sunday prior I left church and stopped to get a headlamp for the car. We had a late night trip back home from Wheaton College after visiting our son Jared. The simple task became difficult and I blew an anger gasket right there in the parking lot of the auto parts store. Sadly, I directed it towards my wife who was only trying to help me. I rarely blow my fuse, but I occasionally do and I always feel terrible afterwards.
Grief has created huge emotional changes in me. Emotion is nearer to the surface now that Jake is gone. This has shown itself to be good and bad at different times but God always makes things beautiful in his time.
Some good emotional changes that have occurred. I think I am more understanding, compassionate, sympathetic and empathetic towards people. Empathy is an acquired emotion that is different than sympathy. You cannot understand the sorrow and pain of another until you wear the same boots and walk down the same path. It is good to sympathize with people but to emphasize (though I would not choose it for myself) is a better emotion to possess.
People ahead of me in the road of grief have been of great comfort, help and value to me. I hope to offer the same to others as I walk this road and see grievers merge into this highway of pain and emotional turmoil. Though I would not choose this path of pain for myself there is one before me who did just that. He put on his boots and walked this pathway long before me. He chose the wood on the trail and selected the nails. Jesus built a bridge to God for me to cross and through his cross I will see him and my son in heaven.
The Christmas season marks the time when God became a man and entered into the pathway of humanity through a virgin. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest of God, to make propitiation for the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17)
Some other emotional changes that have occurred have not been so good, if fact they are sometimes downright ugly and sinful. Because grief resides with me each day, each day is different emotionally. Sometimes anger can show its ugly head when I least expect it. Grief will build and build over time but sooner or later, I know, the levee is going to break. When the dam lets loose it does not always take the form of tears but occasionally shows itself in rage. Truly, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)
I have discovered that I prefer a good cry over a raging fit when my emotions decide to let loose. With tears there is a natural release and comforters are sometimes near to help me through. Rage on the other hand has caused me guilt and shame after I have spewed out all my frustrations. Many times anger is directed towards people we love most, but Jesus, the one who loves me most forgives and helps me. This is a beautiful thing!
…and the beautiful
The Easter season marks the time when Jesus returned to heaven to do the work of the High Priest that only the God man could accomplish. He understands me, he has sympathy and empathy in my failures.He helps me when my emotions get the best of me and I sin against him. He is full of compassion and merciful to me.
“Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find help in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Christmas is difficult for those who have lost children. It is a heightened emotional time with many highs and lows, smiles and tears. If nobody else understands I am confident there is always one who does understand and empathizes with me daily. Jesus has walked my road and does not leave me comfortless. He provides me grace, mercy and help in my time of need. Christmas in in 3 days and I need all the help I can get. I am weak emotionally, but encouraged by his word to me. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) That to me is a beautiful thing!
Grace and peace to you my friends! Have a very Merry Christmas.