Praise in Grief

prayer-888757_1280Sometimes the blessings obviously come flooding down and praise comes quickly and easily from my heart. Other times the blessings look more like hardships, and I have to choose to praise before my praise starts flowing naturally.

I was on my way to Greg’s parents’ house today from the city in Texas where we will be living. I was exhausted, discouraged with our house hunt, and thinking about how much I miss where we lived the last ten years. I was making all those comparisons that a person can’t help making when she moves to a new place, but I was focusing more on the comparisons that made my new city look bad than on any favorable ones. I was grieving, which is normal and even good to do.

However, it seems God decided to use a Disney song at that moment to get a message through to me–don’t say He can’t use Disney! I was listening to the purple Disney cd I had chosen in the middle of the ride, hoping my daughter would stop complaining about not being able to play a game on my phone. (My phone was about to run out of batteries, and if it did, it was possible we wouldn’t make it back, since I still need the directions my phone can give me.) If you don’t have this cd, it’s likely you haven’t heard the song–it’s from one of Hayley Mills’ old movies. The song is “Enjoy It”. The song talks about how we shouldn’t cry about bad weather, but enjoy it. “If there’s a complication, enjoy it…You’re stranded in the jungle? Enjoy the trees!” All of a sudden, it hit me that although I’m grieving the loss of the proximity of many wonderful friends and a wonderful place, I can be thankful for the good things in my new life. I shouldn’t be dwelling on the negatives, but instead actively looking for the positives.

I was reminded of a favorite verse I’ve quoted many times to my own children: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Phil. 4:8). I knew that I could find loveliness and excellence to praise here. As I begin to look for them, I might even find some unexpected ones along the way.

So I’ve decided to once again begin listing my blessings as I did when I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp or as I did whenever I felt down in high school, except this time my list will be specifically for this new place. The first ones will be easy:

1) living near Greg’s parents
1a) our kids will get to know their grandparents better
1b) I get the chance to know my wonderful in-laws better
2) living near Greg’s brother and sister-in-law and their two kids
2a) our kids will get to know their uncle, aunt, and cousins better
2b) I can get to know my brother-in-law and sister-in-law better
2c) I have a chance to be a close aunt to my nephew and niece in a way I couldn’t be to my other nieces and nephews because of the physical distance between us
3) we have a great place to stay while we look for a house
4) there’s a Classical Conversations community in our new town
5) I didn’t run out of gas this morning despite the fact that I was down to two miles left according to my car’s meter (boy, I can’t rely on the empty gas light to tell me when to get gas anymore when I live in such a rural area–you can go miles and miles without seeing one gas station).

Even as I start listing these, more and more are starting to trickle into my mind–the pump has been primed.

I know I’ll have other hard days, days in which it will be hard to be thankful. I hope I can go back to my list on those days and still find a blessing to add, for “The LORDS lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is [His] faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

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3 thoughts on “Praise in Grief

  1. Hey Heather! Thinking of you in Texas. I spent my Jr. High School years down there. It’s never a bad thing to hear about the turn-around in our hearts that can happen when we choose gratitude so thank you! I met with a young lady last night and we are studying a book on contentment. What’s currently on my kitchen chalk board is this statement from Linda Dillow: “Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs.” I remember having to adjust my thinking in Texas: Though I grieved the loss of climbing trees because the Texas trees were short, scratchy and full of fire-ants, I rejoiced at getting a skateboard for Christmas and spending the whole of December 25th using it! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Janet! We don’t climb trees, but we’ll miss Knoxville’s downtown, and we’re definitely missing our friends. I know in time we’ll make new friends, though. I like the way you said it: “the turn-around in our hearts that can happen when we choose gratitude.”

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  2. Pingback: After the Red Sea | Glimpses of Jesus

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