Sometimes I read through other people’s blogs on grief, just to see what they are saying on the subject. I recently read a couple of posts on Emily Elizabeth Stone’s blog (http://emilyelizabethstone.com) and really enjoyed them. They made me stop and ponder. They spoke to my heart. I would highly recommend reading them.
The first one I read was entitled “Garbage, Grief, and Compost.” What spoke to me about this one was the fact that we sometimes try to push people out of grief. We are uncomfortable with their grief, so we try to “fix” them or “push” them along. When we try to move someone along on OUR schedule, in a way WE think things should be done, or to a place WE think they should be, it could be that we are preempting the timing and purposes of God.
Ms. Stone says:
“Here’s the hard, hard, hard truth: So very much good can come out of grief. The darkness scares us and we want to push someone out of this hard, hard, hard place. But, when we do that we are stealing. We are thieves. We are stealing an opportunity…an opportunity for this grief, this garbage, to turn into compost in our friend’s life. We push them out, with all of our talking, with all of our fixing, with all of our perky eyebrow raising, with all of our martyred helping, all of our smart explaining and subject changing. We push them out and the grief, the garbage, never has time to sit, to settle, to rot, to breath…to turn into compost…fertile ground for the new identity, the birthing that MUST take place.” (http://emilyelizabethstone.com/2011/08/28/grief-garbage-and-compost)
At one point several years ago (a year or so after Jason died), God gave me a picture of my life. I saw a wooden-framed window. Almost all of the glass had been knocked out of it; only some rough pieces around the edges were left. Storms had come in through the broken glass and weathered the frame to a cracked gray. It was a mess. I was a mess, so broken. It was not a pretty sight, certainly not one that anyone would notice.
What God showed me, though, was that He was wanted to replace the glass in that frame with pieces of colored glass – glass that had been colored by my tears, by my experiences, and from other sources and people as He saw fit. He was going to leave the original broken, jagged pieces at the edge of the frame, but he was going to fashion a beautiful, stained-glass picture in the middle of it. He was going to take that frame – me – and turn it into a beautiful stained glass window through which He could shine. It brought such comfort to me that God cared enough for me to show me that I could still be of use to Him.
I felt very fragile at the time. I was very wounded and hurt; I wasn’t very strong. I had a couple of very strong-minded people in my life at the time who took it upon themselves to “help” me, to “fix” me. They decided I needed to be someplace else, farther along in my journey. They thought they knew what I needed, and they were not very gentle with the fragile pieces in my life that were in that frame.
I was basically very fragile, very vulnerable, and operating in a coping mode. I realized later, by allowing the rough bumping against the frame in an effort to move me along the path someone else had decided, that I had allowed the “helpers” (and others in my life) to knock out some of the pieces God had started to put into that frame. I felt like the work in progress had stopped, and the frame was laying off to the side.
Yes, I allowed people to knock those pieces out. Maybe I was distracted by grief, by Jason’s death and everything that followed. Maybe my own struggle with my faith or feelings of abandonment played a part. Maybe I was weak but didn’t allow God to be strong in my life. I don’t know. I don’t ever want to sound like a whiny victim. That’s certainly not what I mean. Sometimes in our lives, though, we are just so vulnerable. It’s much easier for others to have an impact on our lives.
I want to be that beautiful stained-glass window through which He can shine. I want people to look at my life – through my life – and see God. I am a work in progress and certainly have a long way to go. It’s been a long journey and I have not yet “arrived.” I don’t know that I’m even close. It’s only been recently the framed image of a stained-glass window has been revived in my life. I’m doing my best to cooperate and allow God to make my life into something beautiful and useable.
I have read some about stained glass, the process of coloring the glass, and the process of actually making the window. The glass, during its molten stage, is colored by adding natural impurities, minerals, or pigments. Because the pieces are fit snugly within the larger frame and surrounded by additional support holding the smaller glass pieces in, many windows (even from the Middle Ages) still survive. Sometimes they are about the only thing that survives! Stained glass windows, besides being beautiful, become stronger because of their construction. Also, they usually depict a scene or symbol of significance – they tell a story.
I thought that was interesting. I want God to snugly fit the pieces into that frame of my life, hold them together by His strength, and show His beauty through my life.
Anyway, it seems to me that we need to learn to gentle with each other…and with ourselves. We don’t know the work God may be doing in ours or another’s life. We certainly want to provide support (we need to do that – see Ms. Stone’s blog on “Peter’s Shadow”), but we don’t want to knock out the stained glass or trample the garden.