Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Grief

Today was a good day. I went to a funny movie, I spent time with family and friends and then out of nowhere the floodgates opened. Driving and tears don’t mix well. But, when grief comes knocking, I’ve learned it’s easier to let it out than bottle it up.

A friend once told me that grieving is sometimes more than what we actually think we’re being emotional over. I had to give that some serious thought and I’ve come to the conclusion; she’s right.

Today for example I grieved the times my brother and I didn’t get to have. But, my initial wave of grief was over how much I miss him.

Grief gives us permission to feel all the things. There’s no shame in grieving or how long it takes you to grieve.

I think the worst injustice we can ever do is tell someone to “get over it”. How deeply someone is affected by whatever grieves them is their business. The uncomfortably we have with others in pain is what drives us to push others to healing.

It’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Good intentions, right? We don’t like to see someone in pain. Yet, everyday people are dealing with some type of pain.

Although it may not feel like it, grieving is what helps us move forward. It releases the anguish from our souls so we can move forward in hope that this too will pass.

As a little girl and a big chunk of my adult life, I cried in private. I didn’t want people to see me cry. I hated crying in public. I related crying to weakness. I was told crying would make my face be unpretty. I guess in way, you could say crying was my enemy.

I remember the first time I felt like crying during worship time at church. I was like, what in the world is happening here? Nope, not happening. So, I stuffed it back down. I’d look all around, take a sip of water, search through my purse, and do whatever I could to stop those tears.

Then I looked over at a dear friend and she was openly crying in church. I felt bad for her. I thought, you know people can see you right? I never asked her about it.

A couple of weeks later during worship the same thing. It was as if the tears were coming up from a place deep inside me. I couldn’t stop it this time. But, you can bet I tried my best to hide it.

But, God saw those tears. He knew my heart and as the tears fell, a reshaping of my heart started to transform my thinking.

Romans 12:2 was the very first Bible verse I felt led to memorize:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ NIV

I still don’t like to cry in public, but I no longer stop what God wants to do through my tears. Crying allows the pent up frustration, hurt, anger, shame, and guilt out.

I often wondered why after I came face to face with my Savior why I cried all the time? Stuffed down tears will find a way out. Grief can look like working out too much. Eating too much or too little. Grief can look like anger. Grieving is complicated, yet so very necessary to our well being. Whatever it is you lost, it’s ok to grieve. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Your shoes. Your story. No body else has license to tell you to quit crying or they’ll give you something to cry about. Just means, that once upon a time, someone told them to quit crying too.

I guess all I really have to say is, it’s ok to cry. It’s an emotion that God gave us and even Jesus wept. How awesome is it, that the Savior of the world wasn’t ashamed to cry?

Friend, there’s freedom in your tears. And there’s not a thing you can hide from Jesus. So you may as well let those tears flow, because one way or another, they’re coming out!

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Gimme a “K”…Gimme an “E”….

cheerleaderI couldn’t for the life of me figure out what my beautiful niece was starting to cheer spell.  So I listened as she kept going.  Gimme a “T” and another “T” and then it dawned on me.  She’s cheer spelling her last name.  Kettell.  Pronounced (Kah-tell) I have to admit, I was taken back as she cheer spelled our family name and then gave the final cheer out; “what’s that spell?” “Keeeeeee-tellllll.”

When she was done, she jumped up in the air, clapped her little hands and then bounced off to her next adventure in a whirlwind of giggles. I, on the other hand, stood there perplexed that she chose to cheer spell that name.

Growing up with the name Kettell wasn’t a horrible thing per se.  But it sure never made me want to jump up and down for joy and give accolades through cheer praise.  I could in no way be proud of a name associated with such family dysfunction and tied to generations of alcoholism and abuse.

It boggled my pea brain this untainted little girl was cheering for all her worth because she was proud of her last name.  But she didn’t know what I knew.  She didn’t grow up with my family, and she will never be afforded the opportunity to meet her grandfather and be privy to his style of abuse. She only knew the life she has. Anything else she might learn about her grandfather will be passed down from those who knew him.

You see, when my parents got divorced, my father went out into the world and had another baby.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why God would allow this abusive man to have another baby.  But, it was permitted and my half-brother was born.  By the time he was born, I was in the military and other than having a baby picture of him with his name and date of birth, I would not have contact with him for 16 of his years.

I had already had several conversations with God about all this, but I never stopped to hear what God had to say, only what I wanted to tell Him.  That’s what our “relationship” was back then; me telling God what was wrong with His plans and thinking I knew it all.

I grew up with 2 brothers. I was the middle child and growing up we learned to survive life.  Ask us to share stories about growing up and you’ll hear different versions.  Not sure why that is, but when you survive life, your brain does things to protect you. Or so I’ve heard.   So when our half brother finally learned about his half siblings, he reached out.  My brothers freaked out a bit.  They didn’t know what our half-brother wanted and they for sure didn’t want to re-hash the past, so they chose not to speak with him.  Eek-gads, let the fear of the unknown take root.

I, on the other hand, wanted very much to talk with him.  Hello, I’m a girl, and I’m nosey, plus he was family.  So we spoke on the phone. I now had a link to a brother I often wondered about.  For years that one conversation was all I knew of him.  It would be many years later before we met face to face through circumstances only God could have arranged. Talk about mind boggling awesomeness!

So here we are, 14 years later and I’m watching my niece cheer our family name and I stand in awe as God no doubt smiles down of a piece of this family.  A piece only He knew about all those many years ago when I was telling Him what was wrong with His plan.  This puzzle piece that He made and knew would fit together for such a time as this has been one of the best, most awesome blessings in my life and I can’t thank God enough for His love and grace.

While my family as a whole still suffers from dysfunction and separation, I hold out hope for reunification and healing.  With faith as small as a mustard seed, I pray and lay our wounded family at the foot of the cross and hold onto God’s promises and know there is nothing too hard for Him.  Where there is no way, I know, God can make a way!  To God be the glory my friends.

To be continued….

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