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When Life Has Tragedy and Trauma

In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, I often want to build walls and hide in some pretend protected space. But, the truth is that we cannot ignore the ugly and brokenness of this earth. Life is full of heartache and hurts.

Today, I feel deeply for mommas of Texas who walk into their child's empty bedroom. I ache for the momma sending her children to public schools anxious, for their safe return. I feel for the children, filled with questions about their safety. How do we move forward when pain wants to paralyze us from taking the next step? I too, have faced the loss of a loved one, though I have never lost a child. I, too, have faced pain. I, too, am learning to take another step.

Here are a few things that help me when I am hurting.

It is good to grieve the loss. Your healing may look different from my healing, so permit yourself to heal as you need to. If you find peace in pulling away for private moments, it is ok to retreat. If you need people and loved ones around you, be with your tribe. Grief is good. Recognize the sorrow for what it is. Take time to remember, recall the good moments, restore yourself physically, and embrace the grieving progress. Don't try to ignore the steps. It is ok to be sad for a while. Jesus wept at the loss of his dear friend Lazarus. He recognized the loss. He embraced the process. He wept. There was no pretending. He was open with his pain. (John 11)

It is good to pause and ponder. Rest and restore within your own heart and soul. An empty jar cannot pour grace and power unto others. Learn to rest. I believe our culture has difficulty giving self permission to slow down. However, our Lord had to rest. He pulled away for prayer, naps, and time in the garden alone.(Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Mark 4:38-40, and Matthew 26:36-46) He even gave us a day out of the week to rest. Rest. Restore. Renew. (Exodus 35:2)

To me, everything seems better after a good night's sleep. So go away for a few days if needed. If you can't afford to leave, stay home and turn off your phone. Clear your calendar for a few stress-free days. Make rest a priority. As I write these words, I have cleared my calendar to rest for three days. Be intentional. Make it a work. Learn to respect yourself enough to pull away for times of renewal.

It is good to love and laugh with your people. Often, I can get too busy. I am learning to hug more. I am learning to say positive words. I am learning to be a ray of sunshine. I am learning to laugh at myself. Why? Perhaps, it will be the last time you are with someone. Life is short so let every encounter have meaning. Give others big a bear hug when appropriate. Speak words of affirmation. Love like Jesus. Enjoy life. Smell the roses. Have playdates. Be silly. Love and laugh with your people. Proverbs 17:22 reads, "A joyful heart is good medicine."

It is good to serve in our sorrow. Jesus served others even in his grief and sorrow. When we help others, it is a path of healing for ourselves. Serving can bring healing of the soul. Do you know that the word healing in the greek is θεραπεύω, meaning to serve, cure? It is used in the sense that God is our healer. He serves us. He is the cure. However, we are a reflection of Him to a hopeless world. I believe as we serve others in our sorrow, somehow we reap some of the benefits. As we serve in our pain, others are encouraged and we are strengthened as well. It is good to serve in our sorrow.

It is good to forgive the ones that hurt you. This one is hard, I know. But living with the bitterness from the offense will only deepen your own hurt. Yes, it is ok to seek justice, but choose to forgive. In the process your heart will follow your mind's choice of forgiving the offender. You can live in peace and productivity when you forgive. If Christ can forgive me of my sins and hang on a cruel cross for me, I must choose to forgive others as well. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

While living in this world we will have tragedy and trauma. However, for believers this world is not the end of our story, for one day we will live with Him in Heaven free of pain, sin, and grief. Until then, let us run the race well. Know that it is good to grieve. It is good to pause and ponder. It is good to love and laugh with your people. It is good to serve in our sorrow. And it is good to forgive the ones that hurt us.

From one hurting soul to another, dear friend, let us live with hope, take the next step and run the race well.

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