Thursday, April 17, 2014

Be Positive! {Thoughts on Gratitude and Grief}

I am drowning in a deep, dark sea. I am a captive to it's unpredictable waves. Prisoner to it's control
over me.

Grief has ripped my plans for productivity, joy, and peace and replaced them with a new person I don't recognize . Every time my wound starts to scab it once again gets ripped open by a new circumstance. 

"Be positive." they say.
"Write a gratitude journal," they tell me.

But I do NOT feel ungrateful.
Maybe if I think positively, then I will trick the universe into some cosmic twist of good things coming my way?

It feels false.
It feels unnatural.

Is this really the point? To be positive, despite your very world crushing below your feet?
Perhaps. I have met many who have met insurmountable odds and still ooze positivity. Some I think are sincerely in a good place and have worked through a lot of the natural anger and pain. I feel for others. I think so much pain must be just under the surface and they push it down with trite quips and and joy journals. Is this what Christ has asked of me? Am I ignoring him?

I look to Job, who suffered arguably more than any human being. He is angry. He is sad. He cries out to God. He ask God why.
I look to Christ. He is angry. He is sad. He cries out to God. He ask God why. Why?

I wish some would stop replacing my grief for perceived ingratitude. Look at what you DO have. Cup half full, Alyvia, cup half full. I am not ungrateful, I am sad. There is a difference, a big difference. Also, I wonder is this the Christian way of supporting one another?

On some level positivity is a great thing but is this how God wants us to help one another through suffering. At times is like telling a person to acknowledge how pretty the sea is as they are screaming for help during a tsunami?

We ignore that suffering and pain is part of the path paved to glory and our forever home.
Rather than encouraging other's to think of the cross during suffering we point their focus back themselves. "How can we get something positive from this?" we ask, when the focus should be how can God get glory through this?

I bask in my preacher's words:
When Jesus rose from the dead, it marked the beginning of the new heavens and new earth,
we have just yet to have them revealed them to us.
Suffering than glory.
We often try to make this all about me, myself and I, but the cross is the real focus.

This journey as lonely as it as and as sad and anger-inducing as it makes me at times, has made my
focus on just that. Through this suffering I am finding ways I would have never otherwise to glorify Him.

I am grateful, among so many things, to have wise people in my life who see that trite phrases and half-full quotes are about as helpful as an umbrella in a hurricane and instead allow me cry, to scream and to just feel what the honesty of the life that has been given to me. This ironically helps me be the most positive, because it redirects me to the hope and joy that surpasses any human suffering that can be throw my way.

So for my life, as hard as it is of late, I am grateful.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

De-friended {On navigating friendship and social media post loss}

So I have been trying to finish this blog post for over a month. It has weighed heavily on my heart. It is personal. Very personal. Truth be told given the events of late, I should be several FB friends lighter. At first I didn't want to delete others from FB, but it's getting harder. Feeling judgemental and sometimes hateful eyes piercing at my back is hard and makes my already frayed-nerves on edge. My hands have been shaking for days. But as I write this John Mayer belts on Pandora,

"even as my hands are shaking...say what you need to say, say what you need to say. It's better to say too much then to not say what you need to say. With my heart wide open..."

Seriously, that started playing as I typed that! Serendipitous, right?

So here's what I need to say (and I am pretty sure it's too much):

I have never been good at being a friend. As a child I had 7 other siblings around at all times to keep for companionship. As I got older and went to high school and college I was friends with everyone. I attached to a select few here and there but was I was bad at being there and understanding how to navigate the 1:1 friendships. To this day I would rather speak in front of a crowd of hundreds rather than go to coffee with one friend. After I met my husband we were so consumed with each other, we did a poor job of fostering those friendships we had formed over the years and most of them withered.

However, some friends it doesn't matter if you talk everyday or every year, the moment you see each other again you know that you will always be friends. I am grateful for those connections and have clinged to those friends especially as of late. But I would be remiss if didn't mention I have not reciprocated well in those relationships. But I am changed and see friends differently than I did many years ago. I think it has a lot to do with maturing and growing up. I no longer need to be invited to a slumber party to understand someone is my friend. However, there is still so much for me to learn about relationships after loss.

I really didn't understand when someone told me you would need a new address book during the grief process. As time when on, I began to understand more of what they were saying. Friends who I barely talked to before became my lifeline. I soon began to understand why they were who they were and I connected on a level I hadn't before.Then there the friends I would easily call my best friends before my losses and I quickly began to understand it was going to be difficult to be around them in the same capacity or if at all.

I was confused about these new relationships forming and falling apart and it led to anger and resentment. I didn't understand why someone could not offer me some support when I was reaching out for it, but was the first to ask a favor of me. Worse yet people started causing drama around my posts and blog. Really the jist of all it was well intentioned...but it was drama just the same at a time when I had more than my fair share. The drama has since turned into hurtful and hateful actions. It's one thing to never acknowledge the death of our child but comment on every other single post I have written on FB except those that have to do with my grief (yes, I notice) or to liken the death of your pet to a child....hurtful. Then there are those who have questioned my parenting and whether I am equipped for another child...hateful.

Since I hadn't been a good friend in the past, perhaps this is my payback. But I think there is something bigger going on here too. I think everyone sees a new side of their "friends" via facebook. You know you have that person you connect with so much at work, then you realize that you are going to have to see every stupid cat meme that ever existed as soon as facebook friend them. Or maybe there is the person you are just acquaintances with you realize you share the same exact philosophical ideology based on their post on twitter? Social media helps us see sides of people we wouldn't otherwise, BUT without the crucial facial expressions and vocal influx. Well when the death of a loved one happens to you, your friendships as a whole seem changed. Social media can be a powerful tool for connection and closeness and it yet the double-edged sword of the typed word can tear apart even the seemingly best of friendships.

Let's face it an emoticon is a poor replacement for an actual emotion.

It has been advised by those close to me to delete these hurtful friends, because they are not real friends in the first place. I am at a point now that I want to do just that. I even deleted my FB account only to remember our church's account is under my name and several other things that need my account to be active. Then I decided I would just log out, ignore it for awhile. It helped. But still I felt anxious...and bored.

Then it dawned on me.

The epiphany is that ALL people are placed in my life for a reason. I don't just get to click a magic "de-friend" button and ignore that. God didn't hand me this life for me to edit it. The goal here is not to just be happy or positive. It is through honesty and candor in my suffering, that I can bring God the most glory. How can I do that if I start turning my back on those who perhaps need it the most? That chubby little bundle of pink that was laid in my arms 16 months ago taught me that one. It's an invaluable lesson that I must never forget!