After bereavement, who are we?

Intertwined reflections.

I used to think that once you lost some one you loved, that you were sad for a while, and then felt better. However often, grieving is such a complex process, and can be confusing and circular in form. You often seem to go round in a circle, rather than making tangible progress.

One of the things I struggle with, is about identity. Often in a marriage, you get to know the other person so well, you almost become one. And when the two people are no longer together, you can’t remember who you were beforehand. Another dimension can be if you are a carer, as your energy in in supporting your loved one, and your motivation and focus is their wellbeing. When that person is gone, you miss them profoundly. But you also can realise that you have then lost your self too. The simplest decisions seem too hard.

Part of the grieving process then, is allowing your wounds to heal, and then seeking space to find out what is left in who you are. It can be hard to remember, and the old ‘you’ is gone anyway. So I pray for God to refashion me into whoever I am meant to be now, a bizarre mix of genetics, memories, learning and likes and dislikes, limitations and scars.

We can work hard on trying to work out our new priorities, praying for inspiration, seeking wise counsel. Yet I think perhaps the best thing, is to pray for God to shape our lives, to remind us that He still has a purpose for us:

In Isaiah, the prophet writes ‘Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.’ Isaiah 64:8

At times that can be what we feel like- a clump of heavy mishapen clay. Yet God is not finished with us yet, and can use even our cracks and blemishes, to make something beautiful. Though His spirit, may we each find our God given identity as His beloved child, and have courage to live in this truth, and to find our way forward.

Gracious God, You tell us in Your Word, that we are made in your image, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Help us remember this when have many questions, and we feel lost and disorientated. Lord Jesus bring healing to us, and in time help us rediscover our true self. In this season of Pentecost, may your Holy spirit bring life to dry bones, so that we might live again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Healing of identity!

Discovering our true self.

I had a birthday this week, a lockdown birthday, which I guess has become quite distinctive. They are characterised by not being able to meet all the people you would like to, and a sense of poignancy as a result. We are all grateful to be alive, and we know keeping the rules keep people safe, so that is a small sacrifice to make. But it still feels very different.

I have been very blessed however, because there are so many ways of keeping in touch with people. And this year, it has been wonderful to be in contact in different ways with people. And actually co writing ‘Love song for a wounded warrior ‘ has been part of that process, because I have been able to reconnect with lovely people I had lost touch with, or not spoken to properly for years. It has been healing to explore shared memories of different adventures that we experienced in the past.

And so, one of the things that seems to be happening in my soul, is a healing of identity. It has been healing to connect with people, and hear their stories. It has also been amazing to remember parts of my life that were at the circumference of my memory, and to bring them back into the middle.

And this has been so significant because I think when I was a carer, I completely lost sight of who I was. Just dealing with the day to day stresses and medical needs of Colin, working full time, and being a mum, meant that I didn’t gave much space to exist, to make a decision, to know that I had choices. I wonder how many other carers are like this, where your identity gets completey eroded in caring for someone else. I am not complaining, that was what seemed best, to fulfil all the roles I had, to love unconditionally. However now I look back, I recognise that part of myself died. Now I am beginning to realise that I need to ask God to bring possibilities of renewal and resurrection.

Knowing who you are, is a profound question. It changes and evolves over time. I love the Ignation concept of becoming your best self is to be fully alive, the one that God has fashioned us to be. The quest is how to rediscover this, to ask God to put the fragments back together in some form of wholeness.

Many verses remind us of our identity with God, ‘ you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus’ Galatians 3:26. We are beloved children of God, which is breath taking. A song by Jason Gray ‘Remind me who I am’ https://youtu.be/QSIVjjY8Ou8 also speaks of the rediscovery of identity, of love and purpose. It is an important quest for each of us, especially if we might have lost our way through the pressures of life.

Let us pray, Gracious God, sometimes our lives seem full of jagged pieces, bits of a mosaic but with no discernible pattern. We repress painful memories, we get overwhelmed by trauma and weariness, and we feel lost and broken. In the messiness, You come to us Lord Jesus, to forgive, to hold and heal, and to remind us who we are. We thank You that we can trust You. Please bless all those who care for others, may they be supported by kindness and support and respite. Holy spirit, recreate our identity, as Your precious children, and give us courage to explore our freedom our gifts, our path forward, in Jesus’ name, Amen.