A record number of tornadoes hit our region last week. Devastation and disaster only begin to describe the circumstances which surround many who are affected by these storms. The destruction which is visible is something that beforehand was only seen on the news or in the movies. Now we have all seen the destruction, some closer than others. While the destruction we see is bad enough, the potential destruction of what we cannot see may be worse.
We are a city and region acquainted with grief. Grief is a set of emotions which is expressed when we lose something. Most of the time, the grief we acknowledge is when we lose a loved one in death. This grief is publicly acknowledged, and we have several mechanisms which assist us in mourning.
In fact, we proclaim to the community that our loved one has died, please respond. “Come to the house or funeral home to see us,” we say, “comfort us and attend to us. We are grieving!”
Grief unacknowledged is dangerous and destructive. Grief is perilous enough when it is acknowledged. When it is unacknowledged, we risk being emotionally and spiritually paralyzed until we learn to manage what has happened to us. Here are some things we can do for ourselves to help us acknowledge our grief.
1. Be honest with yourself about what has happened to you. What have you lost? Put what has happened to you into perspective. Are there others who have it worse than you? Were your losses things that can be replaced or rebuilt? Or are they irreplaceable?
2. Own your emotions. If you feel something, you feel it. If you feel anger, you are angry. If you are sad, you are sad. If you are anxious, you are anxious. Don’t allow other people to prescribe the way you feel. Phrases like, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” is a useless statement. You do feel that way. Acknowledge it. Remember, feelings never stay the same. Emotions change quickly.
3. Practice your faith. You may be suffering with a faith system which is inadequate. You may be struggling with questions and searching for meaning in a way that challenges what you say you believe. Why me? Why now? Why him? Where is God? You may be looking for God in all the wrong places.
Do you remember the story of Elijah in the Bible? He was going through a troubled time. He ran to the wilderness and ended up in a cave. His feelings were unpredictable when he began looking for God. An earthquake rattled the earth and God was not in the earthquake. A tornado roared by and God was not in the tornado. Finally, God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.
In your troubled time, seek God. When you do, you will discover that He is closer than you think: where He has always been, in a still small voice within you — acquainted with grief. Your grief.
— David Tullock