“Autumn is a season of great beauty, but it is also a season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer’s abundance decays toward winter’s death… In my own experience of autumn, I am rarely aware that seeds are being planted… But as I explore autumn’s paradox of dying and seeding, I feel the power of metaphor. In the autumnal events of my own experience. I am easily fixated on surface appearances – on the decline of meaning, the decay of relationships, the death of work. And yet if I look more deeply, I may see the myriad of possibilities being planted to bear fruit in some season yet to come.
In retrospect, I can see in my own life what I could not see at the time – how the job I lost helped me find the work I needed to do, how the “road closed” sign turned me toward terrain I needed to travel, how loses that felt irredeemable forced me to discern meanings I needed to know. On the surface, it seemed that life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown.” – Parker Palmer.
This quote is a great one and tells a story of how the ending of things can bring about powerful new beginnings. Those ends could be something as simple as a job loss or they could be something more complex like divorce or death.
We can’t always control what happens to us. Often we can’t even control the outcome but we can control how we see it and how we respond to it. A Biblical approach to grief follows three steps. Something happens that causes us to pay attention. We spend time in the challenge waiting in the confusing in-between as we try to navigate the circumstances. Then we transition into a stage of new birth that takes us where God wants us to go. It is easy to get stuck at any point in that process and often we don’t have control over how we move through the process so much of that is up to God but we need to trust the process.
For most of us, myself for sure, we want to speed through the grief process. We don’t want to hurt. We don’t want to feel pain. Heck, we don’t even want to have to lean into God but it is this very pain that causes us to see our need for God. It is what drives our discipleship causing us to grow in spiritual maturity. If we lean into God instead of away, grief has the power to grow and transform us. Instead of rushing through our grief, we need to soak it in. We need to experience what God has for us in our grief and give God the opportunity to work in us and our lives. When I look at my own life. It is the difficult experiences, the challenges, and the times God has shown up that make the difference in who I am today. It is the times that I really struggled and overcame that have shaped me. Grief is not a problem to be solved, it is an opportunity to know and trust God. It is an opportunity to grow and evolve.