Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Overcoming the Bitterness of Grief, #1

Yesterday I wrote about the aftermath of widowhood---all the things left to deal with. I see widows courageously knock through them one by one. However bitterness is subtle and subversive and it traps people in grief time and time again.

God points out dangers of bitterness in Hebrews 12:15:
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
It can be a temptation for widows to be ruled by bitterness. Don't we have a "right" to complain, to "vent" like a volcano, or to be offended and hold a grudge when people are insensitive to our grief?  These kinds of feelings should wave red flags to us that bitterness is ready to pounce and take root. 

Bitterness also tempts us when we begin to compare our life with those we see around us, OR with the life we used to have. These thoughts, longings, yearnings and lonely holes in our heart aren't confined to only the early days of grief either. Believe me, they can persist for years. It's not unusual for them to barge in when we least expect it. They especially crop up around the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

So what's a widow to do???? 

I have used a variety of ideas to strengthen my faith over the years, and the amazing thing is God comes alongside and truly begins His powerful solace and healing when I open up to seek Him in these ways. We'll go over them one by one over the next week or two. 

Lets' start with this one.

Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 6 when he talks about laying up treasures in heaven. He knew that we'd invest our heart in what we treasure so He said: 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

When our loved one went to heaven, most agree that a piece, if not all, of our heart departed too. But for most widows, our heart might be in heaven but our "treasure" is still down here! Why? Because we don't have a clue about heaven! 

What do you know about your heavenly home? 

The more I learn about heaven, the longer my "bucket list" for it becomes! (I don't bother with a bucket list of things I want to do here before I die---things here can be astounding but they pale compared to what we'll see in heaven!) Test your knowledge of heaven with this little quiz:

Heavenly I.Q Test

1. In Heaven we will be:
  • a. angels
  • b. people with bodies
  • c. disembodied spirits, very quiet and peaceful
2. In Heaven we will:
  • a. float around on clouds and strum harps
  • b. sit in an eternal church service
  • c. serve God with great joy
3. Other names for Heaven include:
  • a. The New Jerusalem
  • b. The New Earth
  • c. Cloud Nine
4. Which of the following will be in Heaven
  • a. illness
  • b. churches
  • c. wars
  • d. none of the above 
It took over two years after Bruce died for me to get interested in Heaven. The first year I was so numb I wasn't sure it even existed. (Yes, I did just say that--I had my doubts!) If you're not sure about heaven or your faith it might be because you feel as numb as I did. Please email me at WCplace@gmail.com and we can talk about it, OK?

Here are some books I think you'll enjoy--they're great to read bit by bit of the chapters you're most interested in--and there will even be times when you'll stay up all night reading or you'll read them over and over! They helped me discover the many amazing things I can't wait to see in Heaven! If they're not at your church or public library, find them at your local Christian bookstore or online with Christian Book Distributors or Amazon and select the format you like best. 

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (this is fiction but it captured my imagination and opened my mind to how amazing Heaven will be. It's short and a good starting point in story form).
Heaven: Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada 
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
The Wonder of Heaven by Ron Rhodes
One Minute After You Die by Erwin Lutzer.

What are you looking forward to about Heaven? 
See? Don't you feel better already?

Quiz answers: 1. b, 2. c, 3. a and b, 4. d. How'd you do? 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ferree,

    I tried to post my comment several different ways on your blog, but nothing went through. I wanted to say that because my expectations of my husband’s family’s aftercare were not met, I really struggled a very long time with deep hurt and great disappointment that could have easily developed into heavy bitterness. I went to counseling about it and was able to sit down and finally hand write letters to both of my brothers-in-law expressing kindly my deep hurt about their lack of communication after the graveside service and beyond. I then told them that for my sake and theirs I was giving up my expectations of them.

    My counselor was shocked that I never received any kind of acknowledgement that my letter was received or any kind of response. This caused me hurt as well because it made me feel like I died when Bob died and I have no worth in that family now. So, I allowed myself to disconnect from them in my mind and say that I am no longer a part of his family. This helps some.

    My best friend, whose husband was Bob’s best friend, has also disconnected from me. The last time I saw them, her husband told me that they had to move on after Bob’s death and find a new couples friend. I understand this, but dearly miss my sweet best friend.

    It would be so easy to become bitter about these secondary losses and I fight hard not to. Will be looking forward to read what more you have to share about this.



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