Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stages of Grief/Blogging



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.

13 comments:

Erin said...

Very insightful, Barb, and I resonate completely. I, too, am in that place you describe in your paragraph about acceptance. I think that's why I don't blog much anymore. I'm ok with it these days.

Barb said...

Erin, I sense it in so many of us. I guess I could work up enough anger to write more, but then why? It is just not where I am right now. I am more than willing to talk to anyone who is going through something similar. My apathy does not mean my heart is dead. It just means I am in a different place with it myself.

Rich said...

Barb,

"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."

Godliness with contentment,is great gain.
What you've shared sure imo smacks of learning to live loved.

The wonder of discovering each and every day we are living and prospering in life only because of the Life of another in us as us...so cool!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

quite remarkable. Today I was listening to Kameron Messmer and Stephanie macentire on Free believer's Heretic Podcast. And the exact same train of thought went through my mind as Steph was talking about being free to allow our real feelings to surface...and that's Ok....just perhaps not OK to always stay there....that veers into bitterness. How remarkable you should write this!!!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

quite remarkable. Today I was listening to Kameron Messmer and Stephanie macentire on Free believer's Heretic Podcast. And the exact same train of thought went through my mind as Steph was talking about being free to allow our real feelings to surface...and that's Ok....just perhaps not OK to always stay there....that veers into bitterness. How remarkable you should write this!!!!

random thoughts said...

I have been following you for a few months now, probably at the stage of acceptance and am enjoying it. I am amazed at some of the parallels your experiences and other people around the world. Just trying to re learn what Jesus meant when he allowed the desciples to leave the people who claimed to be teaching about him. All our works will be tested by fire, my only prayer is for my works to stand the fire

Smita Tewari said...

In a world of growing faithlessness, it's good to believe that there are people like you, who can bring such change to depressives!

wood said...

A nice thought. I have plenty of spare time right now, I need more of this

Vincenzo said...

I think I struggle with anger at this point and have for some time. I think the anger I feel is of one who was duped. I spent so much time following other peoples' visions that I lost sight of my own or the things God placed in my heart. You jump through the endless hoops you're told to jump through: the endless confessing, running from conference to conference, turning around and clicking your heels, rebuking the demon of poverty, etc. You look back and you see time that could have been spent doing something productive like hanging out with God, drawing a portrait, going to school, or falling in love, etc....sigh....

Barb said...

You are so right. It just took me a while because I was so convinced that all those things WERE important and the other stuff - the real stuff - was not. When I figured out just how much time I had wasted....it was painful.

Vincenzo said...

I think the hardest thing for me was that after being involved with much of that stuff is that it takes something from you, the spark, if you will, and it leaves you almost hating God in the end. Sometimes you almost have to retrain yourself to separate the God of the Bible from the god of religion because you've been taught to believe they are the same.

Barb said...

I know just what you mean. My daughter even got to the point where she could not even use the name of "God" for him. It just brought up all the old feelings of being watched, judged and loved only because He had to. It has been a struggle for all of us to come to understand a God truly of Love and not the God of Religion that we all knew and had to obey.

Anonymous said...

I am in a good place of...acceptance? I had a meeting with my former pastors, after a year, because I just needed to see them as people again....just the flawed,sad, deceived people that I had come to realize that they were...and not the constant objects of my anger and strife...just people, in need of forgiveness, like me....It was good, I am glad I did it..it was healing to voice how I had been so wounded and to hear their perspective as well...it will never be the same...but I am healed..and thankful to God for his faithfulness and great love......I SO appreciate your site.I hope you keep it going
even though you are in a different place now. I am sure it will be a great comfort to those to come- to see see such testimonies and also to be affirmed and assured that they are not alone in their present condition....I will continue to check back, as I did tonight, and praise God for His mercy,faithfulness,comfort,counsel and miracles..it is NEVER Him that fails us..He is our redeemer!