How to get through: Sorrow

Sorrow: when your heart is breaking

The second part of the “Get Through” series was so powerful to me. The topic was sorrow. As Americans, we downplay sorrow. We are the self-made man, pulling himself up by his bootstraps; that man doesn’t have time to cry. Men, especially, are taight that shows of sadness are effeminate. Women are reminded that sadness is unprofessional. And so we take our grief and we stuff it deep down inside, and we put on a composed face, and we are praised for our bravery. The true bravery, however, lies in being honest with one’s emotions. Grief is important. It is Biblical. It is human.

You don’t ever get over grief, you get through it.

Let’s explore…

1. Loss is unavoidable, but grief is a choice.

There is no life without change

There is no change without loss

There is no loss without pain, but grief is a choice

You choose how to react to loss or change. Most of us choose “bravery” or, actually, pretending that we are doing better than we really are. In this process, we do not let ourselves truly grieve, and we get stuck, because…

2. Grief is healthy.

Grief is, in fact, the only healthy response to loss. It is not embarrassing, effemiate, or unprofessional. It is a truly productive emotion. Grief was designed to help us make a transition. For the same reason that it is vital for human beings to throw parties and celebrations at big, life-changing times (graduations, weddings, funerals, bachelor parties): we need to mark the end of one thing and the start of another. Life is changing, and if we act as though nothing has changed, we aren’t dealing with the complex emotions that come with the change. We were designed to release emotion this way–humans cry! It’s a physiological response to a mental process. Take a moment to soak in the power and enormity of that. A mental process, an emotion, drives our bodies to create tears, to breathe differently, to cry. Incredible.

Sadness is not weakness

Our reactions to sorrow usually involve repression or suppression (unconsciously or consciously blocking out painful ideas). Unfortunately for us, when we swallow our emotions, our bodies reject them. Think acid reflux, ulcers, anxiety, insomnia, and more.

If I don’t let it out, I’ll act it out

Grieve appropriately, or you may find your grief leaking into and contaminating other areas of your life.

3. God grieves with me.

Grief is human, and humans were made like God. He weeps and mourns with us. In the Bible, you will find Jesus crying and mourning.

4. Grief is healed in community.

We need to share the burdens and sorrows of others, just as we should share in their joy (Gal 6:2, Rom12:15).

You need fellowship when you want it the least.

5. Grief takes time.

There is no rushing this process. Every grief is different. You cannot dictate when someone should “be over it” (also see above – you’re never over it!). Grief is a season, just as any other. It has its time, and it will end when it is finished.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Eccles. 3:1,4

Comparing never comforts!

Once you have decided that your grief is a useful tool in your growth, how do you move forward?

1. List the losses you’ve never grieved

Dig deep. What do you hold on to that needs to be explored? What have you stuffed deep inside and allowed to poison you?

Wounds won’t heal unless you clean them out

That sounds painful, and it probably will be. But it is necessary for moving forward. Acknowledge that it is fear that prevents us from grieving. Fear of embarrassment, or pain, or negative repercussions, or all of those.

But did you know that “fear not” is in the Bible 365 times? One time for each day. 🙂

2. Identify what you’ve really lost

Was it opportunity? Love? Comfort? Companionship? Hope? Once you know what you have lost, you know what you need to grieve.

3. Have the courage to lament.

A lament is a passionate expression of grief. Americans do not do this well. Let it out.

4. Ask Jesus to heal your broken heart

I mean…it’s His job.

This can be applied to anything that has hurt you…not just loss or death. Perhaps you never really healed the pain of being bullied when you were young. Maybe you just lost your job. Perhaps you feel that your dream of being married will never happen…these are all losses to your psyche that should be grieved. Give them the attention they deserve and demand. Clean them out and let them heal.

Watch the sermon here.

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