"Encouragement from professionals to openly grieve the loss of who I once was did prove to be extremely valuable in the healing process. I candidly admitted that "grieving the loss of who I was" sounded extremely strange to me. I was still alive, so what do I grieve for? What do I grieve about? As a Christian, was it wrong to grieve over my losses when I knew God had allowed the changes to take place? What does the word grief itself really mean?
I had been trying to cover up my fears, my tears, my frustrations and my feelings of helplessness. Not always successfully in public, and seldom successfully at home. Yet I, and the psychologists, psychiatrists and neuropsychologists counseling me definitely knew it wasn't depression---I always began each day eager to move forward despite all the rough spots.
I was already experiencing grief, but had interpreted it as weakness, failure and a lack of faith because my clouded understanding of grief only pertained to someone physically passing away.
It was time to clarify and address the grieving symptoms. Letting go, surrendering all to God, was a very vulnerable place to enter. Giving it all to Him. I felt as an unformed ball of clay waiting to be remoulded into something new.........."
[Excerpt[s] from my book Worthy In His Eyes: Part Three: Valley of Emotional Turmoil...Chapter Three: LETTING GO]
LOOKING BACK: Grief is a powerful emotion. Recognizing it and working through it can bring healing and freedom. On the flip side, denying it and/or wallowing in it can pull you into a deep dark cavern of hopelessness. Once again we are summoned to make a life-changing choice.
For me, reliance on God to help me confront the temptation to revisit memories of what I used to do, how well I used to do it, and the regrets of what I could no longer do was crucial. It was also one of the best decisions I have ever made.
God has promised to always walk through the valley of grief with His children. I believe what is discovered and released in the depths of that valley refines and purifies us. Surrendering everything to Jesus, completely LETTING GO, withholding nothing, we become thoroughly cleansed deep down inside. It is a necessary and very healthy step along our journey to move forward.
As spotless as an untouched canvas, God will use brushstrokes of faithfulness, compassion, divine strength and unconditional love to transform us into the beautiful and unique masterpieces He created. He is the One Who chooses to give our lives worth and beauty regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. We need only to follow His guidance, draw on His strength, and recognize our value and worth in His eyes. LET GO and LET GOD.
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3: 17b-21 NIV
Blessings on your week ahead.
"Taking those first steps to expose every part of myself to Jesus had been very difficult. It was a submissive decision in which I had to vulnerably admit that I was terribly lost, making mistake after mistake. As difficult as the exercise was, I counted on Him to meet me in that place of vulnerability, listening to and loving me through it. God lifted a tremendous burden from my shoulders as I sought His forgiveness then surrendered to His guidance......I still had a lot to learn, but another stepping stone toward a brighter future had provided me significant stability.
Optimism was on the horizon."
[Excerpt from my book Worthy In His Eyes: Part Three: Valley of Emotional Turmoil...Chapter Two: Surrendering Guilt]
LOOKING BACK: God is Truth. Satan is the father of lies. You have the choice whom you are going to listen to....and believe. Your choice will produce very different outcomes. One will lead to gratitude for life and all that God has in store for you, the other will lead to continual discontentment, anxiety and a disheartening lack of self-worth.
God's grace and patience is unending. Each time you seek Him, you will find Him if you are seeking Him with all of your heart. He will ease the burden of unwarranted guilt every time you surrender it to Him. When I first started to grasp this truth, I was surprised to discover how many times I had to lay those feelings before Him!! But I did lay them at His feet. Gradually a stronger, healthier and happier "Kathie" began to emerge.
Going to God's Word, or chatting with Him [prayer] gives much clearer insight to the validity and source of guilt. A genuinely repentant heart is necessary in both cases for cleansing and renewal. Only then can we go before God Almighty with confidence, asking Him to deal with Satan's intrusion. Seeking forgiveness, I can be bold in my request to prevail against it another time.
God does not want us to shrink back in fear, shame, helplessness and unwarranted guilt. Allowing ourselves to question why we are experiencing such tremendous guilt [particularly after the onset of a disability] helps clear the debris which constantly trips us up.
"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Hebrews 10:39 NIV
Blessings on your journey.....
"I searched the depths of my soul to find ways to fully participate in life again, trying to tuck away any sign of my disability. When I fell short, I blamed myself for being incompetent. I saw failure. I felt I was a failure....Feelings of guilt and not measuring up were my biggest stumbling blocks. I needed to identify where my feelings of guilt and denial were coming from in order to find freedom. This part of the journey was going to be rough. The outcome would depend on my perseverance to prevail over unwarranted guilt. I needed God's guidance to do this, and only He could walk me through the foggy haze of justified guilt verses unwarranted guilt. Clearly understanding and recognizing each form of guilt would bring tremendous freedom and peace to my soul."
[Excerpt from my book Worthy In His Eyes: Part Three: Valley of Emotional Turmoil...Chapter One: Battling Guilt]
LOOKING BACK: This chapter and the next were very hard to write. Guilt is not something folks want to talk about, read about or even acknowledge. Yet it was a fierce foe, trying to keep me from moving forward.
God is so patient with us. He clearly showed me [through my own mistakes] that feelings of guilt due to willful disobedience of attempting to do things I used to do was justified. I was ignoring the professionals' advice and I was resisting HIS guidance. Not a good place to be in and the guilt I experienced because I saw myself as a failure instead of recognizing the need to adhere to limitations needed to be placed at His feet. I needed to ask forgiveness.
I also needed to ask forgiveness for blaming myself when I couldn't meet expectations---personal or otherwise---because of my newly acquired disability. Satan would whisper lies to me....that I was letting others down, I was a failure, a disappointment or worthless because I couldn't do the things I used to do. Believing him produced unjustified guilt which ripped me apart. It made me lose sight of God's guidance and His desire for me to trust Him completely--with the disability.
God loves us so incredibly much. He will step back at times....but never away from us. He'll let us struggle through some battles on our own so we become stronger and can better understand Him. His love, forgiveness and strength will renew our souls. He will bring clarity and He will revitalize our weary and worn-out spirit.
I had been losing sight of my worthiness in HIS eyes, striving to find that worth in the world's eyes instead. I learned to seek HIS truth instead of frantically trying to fight the truth of my disability. These were crucial steps toward seeking my worthiness in God's eyes.....not the world's.
"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you."
[Psalm 9:10 NLT]
"I committed three full days to communing with my Heavenly Father. This was something I needed to do alone. I turned to the sanctuary of our home..... I cannot begin to explain the shifting of emotions I experienced during this intimate time..... I asked Him for the courage to dig deep inside of myself to expose questions that were submerged in my troubled heart.....Although tears had privately flowed at times because of frustration over my inability to do something, I had never truly allowed myself to grieve the loss of who "I had been." I didn't know at that time what it really meant to grieve my losses. My heart ached, craving to be restored to the "old me......"
Sharing the very core of my heartaches with my Father during those three days allowed me to be angry, scared, vulnerable and exposed before Him. He listened to my doubts and fears, and He openly allowed me to lay it all on the line without intervention. He faithfully listened without harsh judgment or criticism. I was free to say whatever was on my heart in complete candour."
[Excerpt from my book Worthy In His Eyes: Part Two: Journey of Discovery...Chapter Two: Alone with God]
LOOKING BACK: This was a pivotal point in my relationship with the Lord....it was also a pivotal point in moving forward with an acquired brain injury. I believe I would not be where I am today had I not pro-actively pursued private communion with God....for 3 days....alone.
This was a powerful time of spiritual cleansing and renewal. God's grace washed over me as I surrendered everything to Him. With raw emotions spilling over, my Lord lovingly spoke to me through His Word. He reminded me that He has known everything about me since the beginning of time because He is the One Who created me. He tenderly reminded me that I was still "Kathie." That alone restored my trust in Him for the journey ahead.
My disability still exists..it is permanent and its effects will last a lifetime. But my perspective drastically changed during those three days. God reached down to the very core of my being and cleansed me. He renewed my spirit, and my heart was like a fresh, clean canvas, ready and waiting for the Master's touch. Crucial lessons still needed to be learned and there would be deep valleys to conquer, but I embraced God's promises that He would carry me through when I could not walk on my own.
I encourage you to set aside "alone time" with God, wherever you are in your life's journey but particularly when a "switch in the track" takes you in a different direction that you had planned. If your heart is heavy and weighed down you really can't afford not to spend this life-changing time with Him. He needs you to be honest and open with Him. He's Almighty God and anything you have to say to Him, He can shoulder.
The journey ahead may get rougher before it gets easier....surrendering to God doesn't eliminate the situation or circumstance....but learning to depend on God's leading and guidance will empower you to turn the handle on the door of your future, knowing the Master's hand will firmly grasp yours. You will not walk alone nor will you walk in fear for the Lord promises to always be a stronghold......in times of trouble and in times of victory.
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