Processing through disappointment and other feelings:
- You may be experiencing disappointment because you have lost things from this, and that is very real. It’s actually essential that you let yourself fully experience the emotions of those losses right now, through healthy grief. If you don’t let yourself feel, then you may accidentally shove it down and numb yourself to your reality, which will hinder you from being able to accept what reality is and move forward in what God has for you through this. There is space for each of these feelings, but make sure you are choosing to feel them WITH God. In the middle of each of these stages, open up your hands and ask God what He has to give you for comfort and direction in the middle of the messiness because He always has something to exchange. Listed below are the 5 stages of grief so you can be aware of what may come up in you and your friends as you walk through this. As you talk this through with your people, invite them to ask their questions directly to God, and then take some time to listen and see how He answers them. God can meet us in so many ways to help us keep moving forward in hard circumstances.
- Denial: many of us have been or are still in shock that this is life right now. That is normal!
- Anger: you may begin asking questions like “why is this happening now?” “why were so many things taken away from me?” and frustration may set in.
- Bargaining: this could look like “maybe if I had done ___ before this happened then ______.”
- Depression: you may get really sad about everything and ask things like “what is the point of still trying to _____?”
- Acceptance: you get to a place where you know that God is good and He is moving, and even though things are different, you are okay and able to move forward because you can live in hope.
- Remember, when you go into the place of your grief and bring an emotion to God, He will always exchange it for something better. Isaiah 61:3 says “and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”
- To move forward once you have brought your emotions to God you need to let Him bring joy where there isn’t any yet, let His perspective come and replace your perspective, and praise Him everyday (even if it’s just 10 minutes) in the middle of your grief. God actually wants to bring us out of our grief and into joy and comfort. Joy is the thing he will exchange for grief, and doing this will help us to grieve less and less as time goes on.
- So yes, these are some of the harder emotions that come up when you are grieving, and you get to acknowledge them, but the important thing to note is that because we know God, this is not the end of it! As followers of Jesus, we get to add HOPE to the final step of acceptance; you can learn to accept your emotions without wallowing in despair. Henri Nouwen says in His book, The Inner Voice of Love, “You must go into the place of your pain, but only when you have gained some new ground. When you enter your pain simply to experience it in its rawness, it can pull you away from where you want to go… trust your experience of emptiness is not the final experience, that beyond it is a place where you are being held in love… the more roots you have in the new place, the more capable you are of mourning the loss of the old place and letting go of the pain that lies there. You cannot mourn something that hasn’t died.” You have permission to go there and feel what you feel, it’s an important part of healing, but you have to do that from a place of knowing your victory is secure and you have God’s promises to stand on. You have to let go of the old and embrace the beautiful exchange God is trying to give you so you don’t accidentally remain in the pit of despair.