Wikipedia, in its article about the stages of grief gives the five commonly known stages that people go through while experiencing grief of all sorts. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Today, while I had a few minutes to catch my breath in the middle of both my busy season at work and my father's decline in health I pondered those stages. Many of you are asking why we are not blogging about the church or our situations as much as we were last year at this time. I realized today that in a lot of ways, the stages of my blogging mirrored the stages in my grief over our church situation. I wonder if many of you are like me too.
In the beginning, there was the denial. I just did not want to believe these people would not turn around and be my friend again. I did not want to believe that they would simply turn away from our leaving without coming to reconcile the seeming dichotomy of what they knew of our lives and what was being said (or not said). I could not believe that if I could figure out the inconsistencies of the doctrine and practice that they would also soon figure it out. Denial was a large part of the beginning of my journey and then my blogging.
Anger. Oh how the anger phase fueled my fingers as they ranted and exposed and cried out for justice. I almost look back on that phase with a bit of longing. I was feeling, thinking, reacting and if nothing else, I felt alive. I tried to "tone it down" because some friends were reading, but trust me, it was born out of the anger I felt for being duped and then in turn duping others as I was their leader. I was just waiting for God to get a clue and straighten them all out and show everyone that we were right!!
I think for me, I skipped right over bargaining to depression. I remember posts that I would weep over. Nights where I would dream of former friends and then spend the next day in a fog. I did not want to do anything. All the pleasures of life were reduced to gray - no color. Even in this phase it fueled the mind to write. I needed to reach out of my pit and at least know that others were around who understood me. You all were great. You reached right back and loved me. I think the time of depression would have lasted much longer with graver consequences if it were not for the online community that I experienced.
The bargaining phase though did pop up here and there. I wanted to offer God something else that might work. I wanted community like I had before. I wanted to belong again. I wanted the "church" to change so that I could belong. I entered a period of wondering how the "church" could be structured so as to prevent any abuse of power. How would we all get together to pray and share and learn?
And then, somewhere in the past few weeks and months I think the last phase has descended. Acceptance. I have learned to accept the place where I am. I have learned to accept my kids, my husband and my friends just as they are. I accept the "church" and realize that while others may go and find a place of community, I will probably not ever be there again. Acceptance that the friends God places around me are the friends that I am to have - no more - no less. Acceptance that the times around my dinner table or out to eat are my church. Acceptance that my kids, their friends and their parents are here for me to love.
Most of all this acceptance phase has decided to accept the path that the Father has seemed to place us on. Maybe we are crazy. Maybe we are hard of heart or even more likely, hard of hearing. But, as much as I may not really love it all of the time, it is where we are.
The thing lately that has brought me peace in this place of acceptance is a memory. When Nathan, (now 14), was born, I distinctly felt that the Father told me that I was to give him a middle name of Dabar. Dabar is a Hebrew word for "a new thing." Of course, back in my old group we were always looking out for the next NEW THING!!! that was just around the corner. I thought maybe he was to be a great leader, prophet, evangelist. But just the other day I was reminded of his name and it made me laugh a bit. What if this "new thing" is the absence of all of the old stuff. What if the Father wants my kids brought up outside the confines of the institutional church? What if He wants to teach them about himself - all by himself - in an organic kind of existence?
I guess I'll never know really. All I know is that today as I look back and evaluate, I am at a place of acceptance like never before. I feel like I have finally sunk to the bottom of a warm ocean, I have sand beneath my feet and I am stable for the first time in a long time. I'm surrounded by the sea of His love. I breathe in the water and am amazed that I can exist in this place with such health.
Not much to write about down here. But it is nice.