Thoughts on Transitioning to a New Normal
These are thoughts not necessarily in sequence. Each paragraph is meant to make sense independent of the others, (fingers are crossed). I’ve written them down for someone I have the great honor of walking beside in their grief.
A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
~ Proverbs 18:14 ~
- When someone has experienced significant trauma, there is no vein of life that is untouched by it. Normal life vanishes. Grief comes, entering the center of the person in pain, and a journey ensues, transitioning them from what was their ‘normal’ to whatever the ‘new normal’ will be.
- Anyone who has truly experienced the process of grieving will tell you that while there are markers and stages of grief, each journey is unique, customized to the individual and their situation. The way I articulate it is: grief has a life of its own. No one but God gets to say when it’s over, and NO ONE but the one grieving has the right to say where they are in that process.
And when they saw him from a distance,
they did not recognize him.
And they raised their voices and wept,
and they tore their robes
and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.
And they sat with him on the ground
seven days and seven nights,
and no one spoke a word to him,
for they saw that his suffering was very great.
~ Job 2:12-13 ~
- I believe God invented grief, offering it to us as an indispensable resource that helps us in our profound disorientation. It’s meant in part to serve us until we have our feet again, to the degree that we are able to find stability in our new orientation. In this way, grief is truly our friend.
- Grief is a gift. It provides a forum for those deepest places within us to express and experience pain and loss. God meets a person there, entering the transition and guiding it. It’s interesting to think about the fact that God gives us this gift, then walks along side, like a caregiver administering whatever is needed for however long it is needed, so that you are never alone.
- Whatever a persons general disposition, when they are in trauma, those pre-dispositions often present in a manner that appears disproportionate. For instance, a person who would consider themselves moderately high-strung, may find they are having panic attacks or dealing with extreme anxiety. A hug or a simple word of truth might have stabilized in the past. Something proportionate will be needed to assist post trauma. This reminder can be a great gift to your grieving friend, who may silently be wondering if they are loosing their mind.
- For life altering trauma, the process of transitioning may take years. Grief will run its course during the transition but will never depart altogether. A person who has suffered deeply will never be the same, nor should they be. Our struggle as caregivers is to put down the temptation to persuade them to “get back to normal” or to “move on.” There is no such place, and it puts a terrible burden upon a suffering soul to imply there is. The marks of their wounds are worthy to be remembered, even if the remembering causes pain.
- A person who has been immersed in the fire of suffering will never be who they once were. But the spectrum of emotions pushes out on both sides, so that while they have never felt such agony, they now have a capacity to feel joy that is proportionate to their pain. It is one of the truly redemptive aspects of experiencing sorrow. Many who have suffered will tell you they are grateful to have this capacity, perhaps even in light of the cost.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
~ Psalm 30:5 ~
After reading your post, and pondering things that you had said, I was reading the Psalms and came across Psalm 119:25-32. The words of the Psalmist resonated with me, and God, in His magnificent character, confirms and pours into hearts that are ready to hear, and ready to be fed. These words came alive to me:
“I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your Word. I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your Word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”
In these 8 verses, there are 2 mentions of the grief of the author.
“I am laid low in the dust” and “My soul is weary with sorrow.”
Both of these descriptions paint a picture of grief that is far beyond just having a bad day, however . . . in these same 8 verses there are TWELVE references to keeping your eyes fixed on the LORD.
“Preserve my life according to YOUR WORD.”
“YOU answered me.”
“Teach me YOUR decrees.”
” Let me understand the teaching of YOUR precepts.”
“I will meditate on YOUR wonders.”
“Strengthen me according to YOUR WORD.”
“Be gracious to me through YOUR law.”
“I have chosen the way of TRUTH.”
“I have set my heart on YOUR laws.”
“I hold fast to YOUR statutes, O LORD.”
“I run in the path of YOUR commands.”
“YOU have set my heart free.”
What a beautiful picture of keeping my eyes on Christ, when my sorrow is still there, but I recognize HIM.
Dear Lord, may my day be filled with more of YOU and less of me . . . Show me YOUR Word, YOUR decrees, YOUR precepts, YOUR wonders, YOUR law, YOUR truth, YOUR statutes, and YOUR commands, as you set my heart free. AMEN
Recognizing His presence in THE pivotal factor. Fixing our gaze upon Him is critical. It transforms. It sustains. It anchors. HE anchors!
Thank you Debbie – Beautiful insights. Beautifully stated.
Always enjoy your heartfelt writings and your deep introspection. God Bless you my friend.
I too believe that suffering is a most holy experience. In no other way do we experience the same level of intimate fellowship with the Savior, who alone can truly understand us in our unique suffering. In no other way is our character changed and developed as it is through suffering, and in no other way do we truly stop and view life from a truly eternal perspective. In suffering we are forced as never before to depend on Him and to throw ourselves on His mercy, love and grace. And in no other way does He reveal to us that He is indeed fitting us for eternity. Suffering has a sacred place in God’s work of redemption in and through us.
“And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Job 2:12-13 — I love this. Such a beautiful picture of fellowship in suffering.
I cannot thank you enough for writing this down as I continue to process my great loss. You help me in so many ways and I know that it is from the Lord. I am deeply grateful for your life and friendship and for standing with me. For not giving up on me, for praying me through when I am so overwhelmed and need a Godly friend to intercede. I love you. This is so helpful. Thank you.
There is no greater honor, than to enter that VERY holy experience called suffering.