Many years ago I was asked to lead a class about relationships at a Jr. High Camp. Now I am probably the least qualified to give advice about relationships and can only imagine my reaction was much like this GIF. Each day focused on a different relationship e.g. friends, self, significant other, etc. One of the days was strictly focused on our relationship with God.
I prompted the twenty kids to write down questions they have about God. One question in particular received a lot of discussion, do we have a purpose? One girl shared about her brother who died at age 2 from a hole in his heart. You could hear the anger in her voice and see how she disliked talking about the experience because she could not find a purpose in her brother's death. The group was amazing in listening and supporting her. We also dialogued the role God has in our loss. At the end we prayed for the girl and her brother. Tears rolled down her eyes as the friends near her held tight to her hurting soul. It was a moving experience for our class and one that took us deeper as a group.
Everyone is different so please do not assume I am saying everyone needs to cry to move on from such an experience. However I do want to acknowledge that crying along with many other things allows the hurt to be experienced instead of suppressing it. Dealing with loss is a process. I would encourage you to look up Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of grief which acknowledges various experiences people go through when working through the emotions from a loss. The stages presented are not sequential but are experienced in our own time.
Power In Our Words
When we share the most vulnerable experiences of our lives with others something miraculous happens. We allow the love of others to slowly seep in and heal our hearts. Each time our story is told we gain a little bit more power over the experience. It still hurts however our story starts to become something that brings hope for others. Our perspective changes to focus on how we are walking through it.
Loss of Faith
Losing your faith is also a grief process. Some of you may have experienced this or may be going through it right now. It can be painful, lonely, and confusing. You may feel angry, terrified, bitter, or empty. It's ok to feel this way as something so personal should bring out an array of emotions. During the process, there can be tendency to devalue previous spiritual experiences. I encourage you to find ways to bring further understanding and perspective to them. Those experiences are part of your life and your story. And though they may not mean the same to you as they once did, they are still of worth. Take time, listen to your heart, work through your thoughts, and talk to those willing to listen.
The Rest of the Story
Later that day, I was journaling outside on a picnic table, when the girl and one of her friends came to sit by me. The girl randomly asked to sign my journal. After they left, I looked back at what she had signed. It stated "Thanks for today! I have actually never cried about my brother." It was in those few written words that she confirmed my assumption that she had been holding on to the hurt and pain from the loss of her brother for over five years. This experience I hope started her on a healing journey in understanding the loss and moving forward with her life.
Do you have a hole in your heart? Has your faith been shaken? Are you still working through loss? Press on to find your healing. Share your stories with others. Allow God to work through your experiences. I want to leave you with this scripture.
Doctrine and Covenants 162
10a Collectively and individually, you are loved with an everlasting love that delights in each faithful step taken. God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed, emptiness filled, and hope strengthened.
10b Do not turn away in pride, fear, or guilt from the One who seeks only the best for you and your loved ones. Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to divine grace.
Please share this blog post on your social media account if you have experienced loss or comment below if this post has been helpful for you.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ or Midlands Mission Center. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.