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Tear to Open

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The package said, “Easy Open” — I tend to disagree.

Either I am woefully incompetent or it just isn’t all that easy. After failing to pull the tab with my arthritic fingers or rip it open with my teeth, I resorted to more drastic measures — a jackhammer and lightsaber later, I got it.

Unfortunately the bag tore open at a right angle to the suggested dotted “tear here” line and my breakfast granola spilled out like some kind of freaky spring hailstorm. Was the old box system really so antiquated that they had to reinvent packaging?

Funny thing though…before it exploded all over the kitchen I paid little attention to what my favorite granola contained. As I sorted through the mess I found rolled oats, chopped pecans, sesame seeds, puffed millet, coconut flakes, flax seeds, dried cherries, and raisins, not to mention the various other unknowns.  I’ve been eating this stuff for some time now, you’d think I would’ve noticed all that before.

This may be an odd comparison, but like that bag of granola, I kept the content of my heart tightly sealed.  Doubt and unaddressed grief dwelled in the vacuum of my self imposed quarantine. But the same catastrophic event that sealed my heart would eventually provide the courage to open it.

Like a virus lying dormant within, the wound would sporadically resurface with no rhyme or reason.  At the start, I did my best to look away. It was hard to address the unresolved death of my son, especially when there seemed to be no way to change the consequences.

Making matters worse, I didn’t always recognize the source of the bleeding as it spilled over into other areas of my life.  It would have been so much easier if this unwelcomed skeleton just went away — but it wasn’t going anywhere on its own.

Instead of giving it free rein to come at me unchallenged, I eventually chose to become the aggressor. Like exploring a cave system, I rappelled down into the chasm,  determined to look this thing in the eye and resolve it once and for all.

I found the impasse, it was God. I had always thought of Him as being this all mighty, all knowing protecter who watched out for me.  But I couldn’t unravel His apathy in the wake of the accident that claimed the life of my son and five of his friends. How could He just stand by and watch them die a brutal death?  Nothing hurt worse than the bitter sting of that betrayal.

Acknowledging the root of the standoff was the first step to reconciliation. I had to take the thoughts and emotions found there and attempt to put them in line with what was true.

But true for me, or true in principle, especially one of fundamental importance? I looked long and hard, and here’s what I found:

Truth is not a principle — truth is a person.

Truth is Jesus Christ. 

When I look not only at Christ’s life, but His sacrifice, there can be no doubt of God’s love, truth and grace.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  

~ John 1:14

One of the most straightforward statements made by Jesus is this:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

~ John 14:6  

He didn’t claim to be pointing to the truth or even searching for it — he said:

“I am the truth.” 

When Jesus was crucified, God demonstrated both His grace and truthfulness. He showed us grace in that Christ bore the punishment of our sins, leaving us hope for eternity.  And He was also true to himself, because sin was justly punished.

“Surely, God will not act wickedly, And the Almighty will not pervert justice.”

~ Job 34:12

Unfortunately, it took the devastating loss of my son to open my eyes and fully grasp the risk I was taking by gambling with God’s sovereignty.  Now, I’m betting my life that Jesus is who he said he is.

Maybe we have to die a few times before we can understand what it means to truly live.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 

~ Galatians 2:20

The lodgepole pine of the western costal forests have seed cones that are sealed with a layer of resin. The cones will only open and regenerate after experiencing the heat of a forest fire.  It could be that people like me need an environmental trigger to bring about the Godly regeneration of our lives.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

~ 2 Corinthians 4:16

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10 thoughts on “Tear to Open

  1. Yes to this: “Maybe we have to die a few times to understand what it means to truly live.” Deeply poignant post, Gene. Thank you for sharing part of your heart with us. I can’t begin to imagine what you’ve been through.
    Blessings to you & your family ~ Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gene, I always love reading your posts. Your words, your stories and the way you make them so personal always resonates with me.

    And this post? Thank you. It’s difficult to understand and embrace God’s sovereignty sometimes. But, when we come to believe He is who He says He is (good, truthful, loving) even in those times when we don’t understand? I think His peace is able to help us walk through those seasons a little easier.

    When you talked about your heart being closed off . . . God’s been opening mine up too. Keep up the magnificent writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jeanne, you are always so kind in your responses. As I read your posts about dealing with your boys I usually see some new awakening in you, so yes we keep God busy don’t we?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Maybe we have to die a few times before we can understand what it means to truly live.” Yes, Gene. I’m praying for you right now. Because I get sick over loss. It nearly kills me before I seem to recover. But I know my heart is never the same in strength. Each time I experience loss, I feel I truly do die a little … I can’t even begin to imagine your pain. You’ve opened up so many feelings in my heart right now, by my reading this … I’m going to go think about all this. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Shelli, I appreciate your prayers. When I write about grief it is more reflective than current. I guess we never quite get over it but it does get better.

      Like

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