No one can escape the impact of loss.
The loss of someone who passes away, the loss of a friend through betrayal, the loss of health through illness, the loss of a marriage through a divorce, the loss of routines and stability due to a job loss or moving to a new country, the loss of innocence through abuse, the loss of the dream family through miscarriage, or the loss of a dream of a career. However big or small, everyone will go through loss in life.
The question is how do we deal with loss and its accompanying pain. The way to deal with loss is through grieving. Grieving is not limited to tears. The grieving process could be through artistic expression, journaling, or helping someone else in the area of your loss. Grieving is any way of getting the pain that’s inside out to the surface. Jesus said blessed are those who mourn (get the pain of what’s inside out), for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Personally, I know what it’s like to face loss – specifically the loss of innocence through sexual abuse at a young age. Through this loss, my life became consumed by fear – the fear of never being able to trust anyone, the fear of never being able to be mentally or emotionally stable enough to pursue the dreams that God placed on my heart, the fear that I was gay because of what happened to me as a child. Like many people, the pain of loss was so great that I suppressed it for many years and put on a happy Christian veneer to avoid the pain that I felt. After a number of emotional breakdowns, I knew it was time to come clean and stop lying about what I was going through. Fortunately, God placed a great support system around me who helped me find my way to a competent Christian counselor to begin to deal with the pain of the loss of innocence at such a young age. The first few steps were acknowledging the loss and starting the grieving process. Here’s what I learned in the process.
Each time we don’t grieve losses, 2 things happen:
- We begin to compartmentalize our lives where we walk around with a false optimism, pretending that everything’s okay. But the reality is that there is unresolved grief and if it’s not grieved fully, we are tempted to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like hiding/denial, minimizing, rationalizing, distracting, avoiding, addiction, becoming hostile or other unhealthy ways of not facing the pain.
While everyone thought all was well with Jon because I was accomplished – graduating with honors, getting my CPA license, working for a reputable company, etc., I dealt with secret addictions and emotional and mental battles that most people couldn’t believe. At different points, I also had bouts of anger that lead to disrespectful confrontations and misunderstandings and when I suppressed the anger, it led to depression. These issues kept me from having healthy relationships, walking in God’s perfect will, and were robbing me of the fullness of the destiny that God has for me. Once I understood what was occurring, I concluded that unresolved pain is like a beach ball pushed underwater – it will always find its way to the surface. In what ways are your unresolved issues showing up in your life?
- The 2nd thing that happens is that our hearts become hardened to avoid getting hurt again. Proverbs 13:12 says that a dream deferred makes the heart sick and when we experience loss, to keep the heart from getting sick again, we stop pursuing our dreams or even worse, stop dreaming. Grieving gives us the freedom and permission to risk again and set big goals for God. For close to a decade, I’ve worked in the corporate world, but I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. In the last few years, the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to work with young men from the inner city. Through a series of circumstances, I started working as a resident advisor in a transitional living facility aka group home teaching life skills to young men who have been temporarily displaced from their homes due to issues of abuse, a parent’s drug addiction, or a parent’s incarceration. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the pain that these young men faced would be similar to what I’ve known. Had I not grieved the pain of my past, I would not have emotional capacity to deal with the serious issues that came with the position, let alone possess the heart and empathy to walk them through their own pain in a healthy way. As bible teacher Geri Scazzero says in her book, I Quit, I could enter the pain of others because I’ve entered my own.
In life, there will always be grief because there will always be loss. We cannot choose our emotions selectively – to be happy and never to be sad. Let’s not neglect the benefit of grieving and embracing sorrow. As Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, a sad face is good for the heart. In a weird way, grieving pain leads to greater empathy and compassion for others, a better perspective of what really matters in life, and a restoration of the peace and joy of knowing that what God is doing is best. I’ve learned and continue to be reminded that joy truly comes in the mourning. What losses and pain have you yet to fully grieve and let God’s divine healing meet?
Jonathan Frejuste was born and raised in Newark, NJ. He went to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he was saved at the age of 19. Though he has been saved for 10 years, God has taken him through a painful sanctification process which is what lead him to learn more about emotional health and how vital it is to one’s walk with God. He is currently serving as a life group leader at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NY and is committed to giving people who have been broken by sin a safe place to heal and provide them with the encouragement and resources to pursue their destiny in God.
Connect with Jon via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jonathan-frejuste/42/202/b0a
Watch Jon’s Story here “The Story of New Life”: