Comfort: To Ease the Grief Of

 
Are the comforts of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?
(Job 15:11 ESV)
 

My reading list seems sparse this month. As I was looking at books for Lent, two titles caught my attention. One a familiar friend, the other a new acquaintance. Both books encourage writing as a way of prayer.



Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy Through Written Prayer (Lynn D. Morrissey)

This first book is beautiful like its author. I’ve read it once before, and consider Lynn a dear friend and person who has fueled my passion for journaling.

This book is more than a guide to writing your prayers to God, it is an invitation to rekindle your relationship with God as the Lover of our Souls. As I enter the pages and the stories of Lynn’s adventures with God, as well as her struggles, my heart finds rest and revival at the same time. My imagination is drawn to the garden of my soul, and I long to tarry in the presence of our Savior.

Today this line, prompted a prayer of examen: “Naming our grief is the first step toward healing.” That one sentence opened up a floodgate of griefs that I have been ignoring, afraid to name them for fear of being consumed by grief. The crazy thing is that the more I try not to name my griefs, the more they come out in anger and despair.

In my journal, I wrote: “My grief is . . . regret, dismay, denied, unrealistic, unnameable, transitional, disappointment based on sin, sorrow, sickness, separation and simple doubts about God’s goodness.” This simple act of confession brought to light what troubles me. I don’t have solutions, but expressing these on paper was the first step of reaching out to God for healing and comfort.

Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen (Rachel G. Hackenberg)

I love the simplicity of this book. The prayers recorded in this book are poetic. They have inspired me to write poem prayers. Writing poetry takes my raging thoughts and distills them down into concise, raw expressions. When I read Rachel’s poem prayers and my own, I am drawn to some phrase that feeds my soul in the moment.

On the facing page of each prayer, she offers a prompt to read a Scripture and to contemplate a topic, which spurs me on to more written expressions of my heart.

In the poem, Nighttime Prayer, she explores her fear of the dark, which leads to her real fear–the fear of not being in control or able to stave off disaster that might come in the middle of the night. Early in the morning she laments, “Wide-eyed in case the uncontrollable, unthinkable happens/So I stay awake/Stay distracted/Determined not to be caught off guard by the night.”

Her prayer prompt for this entry explores fear: “Write a prayer about fear, and let the presence and encouragement of God surround you with holy comfort.”

Combining this reading with the quote from Love Letters about healing and grief, I noticed a connection between grief and fear.

I wrote: “My fear is . . . bound up in my grief. I fear failure, disappointing others, not keeping up, other people’s opinion of me, giving up on life, disappointing others’ expectations of me. I am afraid of depression, cancer, pain, failure, rejection, hope, renewal, new paths, success, criticism, praise, pride, the future, boredom, apathy, cynicism, nothingness, death, living, making mistakes. . .”

These confessions were random, yet real. Something about confessing these on paper enlarges my perspective.

My conclusion today was that I am powerless . . . and that’s a good thing to know and believe, because then I cry out, “I need you, Lord Jesus!”

And He comforts me.

Linking up with:

9 thoughts on “Comfort: To Ease the Grief Of

  1. Kel, this is perhaps one of your best all-time posts, because it is brimming with gutwrenching honesty. My purpose statement is "encouraging transparency," and what I love about journaling is that it does exactly that–encourages our transparency before the Lord. He knows what we are thinking or suffering, before we even do, but we must pick up our pens and lance wounds in our journals, to know their source and to receive healing. In the grief chapter that I wrote in Love Letters to God, called "Lists of Lament," before I wrote that chapter, I told my editor how I would approach it. I explained that we had just lost our dog, and that I was really grieving his loss. She was a lovely lady, and tried hard to be gentle with me, also saying that she was a dog-lover……..but…..BUT…..she didn't feel that it would be appropriate to talk about that in a book…….because, well, not everyone was a dog-lover….and, AND….people had suffered anguished grief over human loss. She felt that there was no comparison. I told her to bear with me and make a judgment call once she had read the chapter. She did, and she approved. In Lists of Lament, I talk about all kinds of grief–large and little losses, which are all grievous to us. Certainly, losing a loved one is the most overwhelming, catastrophic form of grief. I hardly discount that. But we need to realize that the loss of a job or a dream also causes us grief; yet often we dare not express that, because so many people discount it and we don't want to be seen as petty. But grief, unexpressed to the ONe who cares about every, single loss we experience, will insidiously fester …..and eventually either explode in anger, or else go underground in the form of depression or bitterness or callousness, doing its insidious work. I"m glad you are encouraging others to express grief before the Lord, who understands, who deeply cares, and who will heal. And your connection between fear and grief is staggering and true.Bless you, Kel, for baring your heart on the screen. We need more writers like you!LoveLynniPS One woman who read my book was single and had just lost her dog. He is all she had, and so the part in the chapter that talked about losing a dog was especially meaningful and comforting to her. It's important to write about what God lays on our hearts. We never know where He will take our words or how they will help another person!

  2. Kel, I am falling in love with the book Love Letters to God! I feel so close a connection to Lynn. I mean…I can't believe this book was sitting on my shelf. I loved it, but the look, the title etc. Yet the words inside are like a beautiful treasure in my life right now! I am beyond words….and will be writing more on a post soon. BUT these books do so compliment each other and are different. I want to jump through the pages of Lynn's book and embrace her – so many similar insights yet she so succinctly pens them. Truly this book is a treasure. I can't believe it was on my shelf sitting….as a pretty book. It is so deep and rich, yet perhaps THIS is the time God knew I would pick it up and feel less lonely in light of my current journey…well, back to getting my girl to do math, etc. So blessed my friend!

  3. Lynni- This phrase,"but we must pick up our pens and lance wounds in our journals, to know their source and to receive healing," expresses exactly what I felt as I wrote out my griefs and fears yesterday. I am so glad you convinced your editor to keep the story of your grief over your dog. This is a real grief that many suffer and does open our eyes that many circumstances produce grief…we lost our dog…and my husband and I cried all the way to California…we had to put her down just before a vacation. While in the red wood forest, I could imagine her running in the green fields of God's forest above…God comforts us and allows any grief to bring us closer to Him. Words can be such a healing balm.

  4. Dawn- So glad you found another kindred spirit…we need journaling…so glad you are hosting random journal day at your site…I will post over the weekend…I love how God can place such great encouragers and companions for the journey in our lives through books and now blogs! Keep writing! Enjoy your daughter. Peace-Kel

  5. Hi Dawn,I just know that Kel would not mind my commenting to you, and I am so very touched about your gracious words about my book. Thank you so much for your kindness. I had to smile–that you had it just "sitting around," so to speak, having not yet read it. I"m curious as to where you first located it. The book was pub–and had even forgotten about it until Kel mentioned it. I published Love Letters to God nine years ago. I'm always interested in the circuitous journeys that books take to find a home. I'd published two devotional books before this one, but this is the passion book of my heart. It took ten years to get it published, so it particularly blesses me to know that God allowed that struggle if it could bless someone now. I pray that you will pick up your pen and journal your "love letters to God" (with all any emotion you feel! I don't advocate pretty prose, but heartrending, honest prayer. God wants you to express yourself honestly to Him). I will be so interested to know what He shows you and why you feel that you were meant to read this book *now*, so many years after it was but a gleam in my heart! I pray that your life will never be the same as you draw near to the Lord in intimacy, pen and journal in hand! In fact, I stand on tiptoe to see what God will do!!!!LoveLynn

  6. Lynn,Thank you for responding, I came to see if Kel had commented while visiting and was blessed to see your writing. I can't begin to tell you how much your book has ministered to me these past days…I wonder how old your daughter Sheridan is now. So many of the stories rumbled around swirling my own memories. I am going to write about your book because I believe it is a true treasure. My own journey has been similar and at the same time you know how it is…God shows us some along the way who are brave enough to share and we see they have traveled along similar paths. I think what drew me to your book was the beauty of it, the promise it whispered and ultimately before I really was able to realize it my own writing became like that beautiful book that was unopened. When Kel wrote about it- it looked so familiar and there it was – I bought it after becoming a believer. Ironically my journals did become love letters to God, and healing, and therapy and for years I poured into them. My continuing transformation is so evident on the pages…unedited, unscripted. From ranting angry girl, to precious redeemed daughter. ANyway. You bless me. Kel blesses me. Thank you, I will write and please visit my blog soon. I will be sharing soon but seriously, that book is a treasure. Lynn. A treasure. Thank you, In His Grace, Dawn

  7. Dawn, I am so very blessed and touched by your words here, and I'm grateful to precious Kel who has connected us. She is a real networker for Jesus! I am extremely moved that my book would bless you! I thank God for that, again, because an author never knows where a book will land or when it will be read. But apparently, the Lord wanted you to have its message now. Yes, the book is gorgeous! I can say that because I did not paint the ethereal watercolors! 🙂 They were rendered by a Russian Christian artist, Katia Andreeva. The amazing thing is that she has illustrated books by well-known authors, so it was unusual for her to paint for mine. Plus, normally an artist of her renown would use mostly backlisted art. But she painted almost all original artwork for my book (save the Lists of Lament chapter), so that each story is actually illustrated relevantly. My hope was that the beauty of the book would draw women to it, because I write about some really heavy and painful subjects. Some women might not have wanted to purchase a book that shouted those topics on the cover; they would have been embarrassed. But this is a pretty book they would like to display on a coffee table. All that said, I did not want to write a fluffy gift book and was adamant that I be allowed to share my heart in all its brokenness. But, hopefully, as you will find, this is not a depressing or heavy book, but one of hope and redemption. I'm so glad that it is resonating with you. And I have loved reading about your own Christian journey here, Dawn, and how the Lord has transfored you from angry to redeemed. Surely, He has used His Holy Spirit, His Word, and also your own words penned honestly in your journals to change you. It's so exciting isn't it?! I love your website, too, and I think it is wonderful that you are encouraging other women to journal. What a blessing!! I loved the random journal day, too, and wish I had a website to link. It's so fun to "randomly" browse a journal and unearth gems from the mines of remembrance. And just think: What if we hadn't written all those precious nuggets into the pages of our journals? I pray for a global Christian journaling revolution!! Will you join me? You bless me, Dawn!LoveLynn

  8. Dear Lynn,That is so neat – about Katia. The artwork wooed me for sure. And I was drawn to the beauty of the book…yet I realize in retrospect I was not ready to really read all of the words …Had Kel not shared I would not have remembered the book that would bless me- it is amazing that the artist did such beautiful work to perfectly compliment your words. Grateful that I finally opened the gift…blessed by you as well, Lynn!

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