I don’t think I ever really grasp, until this last year, the impact that my previous “episodes” with my AVM had on me. Looking back on it, there are a number of times where it changed the course of many things and I didn’t know it at that time. Looking back on it, my life, my family and both sets of parents are richer because of it.
I’m going to call this Face of Grief – the Undercover Face. I know I probably watch too many cop shows on TV, but you know the undercover cops? The ones who are just moving around in the “normal” world trying not to be noticed.
Trying to do their job, trying to gain access to the center of what’s happening, and trying to do it without you realizing it. That’s what the undercover face is.
Except on the cop shows, the undercover cop is the good guy and the people he’s trying to get “in with” are bad guys. In this case, it’s the exact opposite. He’s the bad guy, grief is the undercover face that’s trying to sneak in to your life. And you don’t see him and you don’t notice the trail of dirt that he left walking through your kitchen late at night. You don’t see that all is not well.
And then suddenly, you realize that he’s there. And suddenly you see all of the things that have happened which are ways you could should have seen him coming. But you didn’t. And he scared you quite badly.
My parents lived with that undercover face of grief from 1972 to 2018. He was always around, but not always seen. I believe that in many ways, God used the grief and the sorrow that my dad experienced with his cancer to make his ministry and his life a much deeper and more impactful life for so many.
I’ve had that undercover face of grief hiding around me for a long time too. 1978 – I was in 8th grade. And I had to go to Mayo Clinic (at that point, I thought Mayo was the place where all of the really really sick people went). 1986 – the AVM was back – just as I was finishing college and expecting our oldest…..
So what have I learned from the Undercover Face of Grief? A couple of things:
• Trust God – God is the parent there to help you when you are scared, sad, worried, and happy, funny, joy-filled. God is there to walk beside you – invite him to join you or you join him and the Undercover Face of Grief won’t be so scary when it shows up – and it will – we live in a fallen world.
• Remember that as scary as the undercover face might be, when he “shows up” the light of Jesus and the support of others makes him less scary.
• Don’t live your life scared of the Undercover Face. Instead, look for the joy in life. Look for the things that will add purpose and meaning to your life. Look for the difference you can make in your world – whether it’s in your home, your community or way beyond that.
• Look around you – there are probably people you know who are staring down that Face of Grief right now. Stand up with them, stand next to them, tell them, “You are not alone.”
One of the many things I have learned over the last years is that there are way more people who are struggling and way less people who have all of their “ducks in a row” than I ever would have thought.
So, when your grief shows his head after hiding behind the scenes, acknowledge him, look at your life – are there things you’ve been doing that have made it easier for him to hide? I’m thinking of the old country and western song about drowning your sorrows…..
God’s grace is enough. Actually, the writer of Psalm 4 says, “I have God’s more than enough”
When grief shows it’s face, know that God’s grace is more than enough.