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Grief As Life's Learning Essential 2

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Grief As Life's Learning Essential presented by J. Michael Godfrey of True Course Ministries

Grief As Life's Learning Essential presented by J. Michael Godfrey of True Course Ministries

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  • 1. Grief as Life’s Learning Essential With many of my mentoring and coaching clients, I find grief to be a process that surfaces regularly, most often in the form of disappointment with things as they are versus what the client hoped they would be. Generally, grief is considered to be something bad and that it must be moved off the table as soon as possible. This viewpoint leads to many missed opportunities for growth. Grief is an amazing gift of God which can be a learning process. As a learning process grief helps us learn to live life in a new way after loss, however small or great. Great losses such as death of those close to us, loss of physical capacity, terminal illness, or significant loss of independence launch the grief process. The recognition of our own mortality, invited or forced, generates grief. Grief can be generated by other losses such as changes in processes, loss of employment, financial reversal, loss of relationship, or loss of the way we have become used to doing things. I would suggest that any change, of any kind, generates some level of grief. My view is that change is a constant in life and, as a result, some level of grief – mourning the former and embracing the new – will be present . . . always. To some, this may sound sad or like Eyore (of Winnie the Pooh fame) but I think it’s all about how you view it. Life is a constant learning experience and grief is one of the processes involved in that learning. Though dark, lonely, emotionally painful, and confusing, grief is most often a process of learning to live with loss/change and in light of it. We may want to clearly understand the loss and know the “whys” and make all this work with our life the way it was before the loss. This is not possible. Life will not be as it was. Fully understanding the loss itself is not necessary. Understanding what it means for life from point of loss forward is essential. This is a hopeful, future orientation versus a prison of regret in hindsight. Working through the grief process yields a changed way of living. When there is loss of the old way, the new must come or we can cease to thrive, become ill, and may even give up our capacity to function effectively in the world. Sometimes, people around us try to interrupt the grief process by “fixing” the symptoms. Meaning well, they encourage us not to cry, not to feel bad, and cheer up. If grief is to have its intended result – living in a new way – we need others not to interrupt. We need them to simply be present while we move through the learning process and experience grief in all of its fullness. I have experienced a number of circumstances which brought me great grief. When individuals hear the stories, they shake their heads in sympathy. One highly-experienced well-known pastor and Christian leader noted, “You are amazingly healthy, given what you have been through.” My response: “I believe that’s because I have found meaning in the experiences.” They weren’t fun and I get a little disturbed thinking of them. But, I clearly see meaning in them. I learned from them. I’ve learned to live life in light of them – life in a new way. They are tools in the hands of God that have formed and are forming me. This is God’s grace in action. As a result, I am able to talk about these things with others in hopes that they will be helped by my experience. Each time I speak of them, I relive some of the pain and I learn more. The hope that others will be helped and the fact that I learn more adds even more meaning to the experiences. Have you noticed that when things are going well and predictably that you learn very little? Think about the most profound learning experiences of your life. It is likely that these were somehow associated with Copyright © 2010 by J. Michael Godfrey. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder. www.truecourseministries.com | www.truecourseLLL.com |mgodfrey@truecourseministries.org Page 1 of 2
  • 2. grief experiences. Something shook you, deeply. It was confusing and did not fit with life as you knew it. You had to move through a process of making meaning of the experience. Eventually you may have come to a place where you understood what it meant for your life from that point forward. You may not have felt much better right away, but over time the new understanding influenced your feelings and you became more hopeful about being able to live with the new situation. I firmly believe that the truth of Romans 8:28-29 is foundational for human kind to find meaning in difficulty and loss. Unpleasant things may come to “good people” and “bad people.” (Who is “good” and who is “bad” anyway?) Long pondered has been the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” My opinion is: “Why not?” God does not cause bad things so don’t blame him for your grief. He uses those experiences for good that we may be formed into the image of Christ. Suffering and pain of grief appear to be one of the few things that get a sufficient portion of our attention to allow God to form us. So, if you want God to form you into the image of Christ, open wide your arms and embrace grief as it comes to your door. Viewing grief as an opportunity for God to make good and form us gives meaning to grievous experiences and gives us framework for sharing them with others and not wallowing in self pity. Change prompts grief. Grief is a learning process. The result can be learning to live this life in a new way, a forward looking way, hopefully more in the likeness of Christ. Copyright © 2010 by J. Michael Godfrey. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder. www.truecourseministries.com | www.truecourseLLL.com |mgodfrey@truecourseministries.org Page 2 of 2

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