As already discussed, we view all that happens to us through a frame of reference, the first being that which comes through the filter of our past. https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/filters-from-the-past/
A second filter which makes up our frame of reference is our present.
- First, there are the countless individuals that surround us as we walk through our current valley. We can divide them into categories.
We have the individuals who ignore our pain. They ignore because they simply can not grasp it or because they don’t want to be touched by it, so running away is the easier action to take.
Others invalidate it with clichés, hurtful statements, and downright stupid comments.
Others are uncomfortable around us. They don’t know how to act. They fear that if they act normal, we will feel invalidated and forgotten. But they fear that if they act sad, we may wish they would treat us like they normally would. Their intentions are pure, are but they are honestly lost about what the right thing is to do is and how to act.
Some just don’t grieve like we do. This often happens with spouses and other family members. We see their initial grief but then, they return to their own life, even as we remain entrenched in our pain. We look at them and wonder how they cannot be feeling the pain that we are.
And then, we have the gift of those who walk with us in the tears, supporting us with their physical hugs and prayers, offered multiple times a day, on our behalf. They are the support system that carries us through the raw newness of our grief, and with whom our hearts are forever bonded as a result.
- Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone. Empathy is feeling so sorry for someone that you put your life on hold and walk with them through the pain.
Please refer to https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/when-people-arent-god-is/ for a more detailed study of this topic.
2. Secondly, we also have our experiences, and each one is unique to each individual.
No two sets of circumstances are exactly alike. Both of our stories may include a situation such as an ectopic pregnancy, a stillbirth, or an early miscarriage, and the details might mirror each other, but our experience is still unique to us. It’s unique because of the frame of reference from our past, because of our personality and way dealing with pain, because of those who surround us, and the other circumstances existing alongside the situation. It might seem easy to compare our level of pain and heartbreak to someone else’s, but we do not know how big the piece of “straw” must be that might “break the camel’s back” in another person’s life.
My experience is not yours and yours is not mine. Mine can lend to empathy for yours that I would not otherwise have, but still, I cannot say to you, “I fully know what you are feeling.” Because I don’t and I can’t. Our experience is our own, tailored to our particular life. While some may enter into our experience with us, there is a place deep down that only we can go.
This makes #6 so very crucial.
3. We also have our present circumstances.
The infertility we are facing may be first time infertility. Or secondary. Or inexplicably, after a third child, when the plan was to have a fourth.
The miscarriage or stillbirth may have been our first longed-for, dreamed-of child, or it may be our fifth unplanned, but already loved, baby. The loss may affect just you and your spouse or there may be other children that you have to carry on for.
4. And then, there are extenuating circumstances. A husband leaves in the midst of the grief, moving on, because he couldn’t live with it. No insurance to cover the medical expenses. Dealing with a loved one’s cancer at the same time. A job that won’t give bereavement time, or wishing for a job to go to, in order to take our mind off the heartache. Maybe it’s financial hardships that have us weighed down or a family drama. The list of extenuating circumstances are endless, but these things can be that “last straw” on top of this shattering of our hearts that threatens to break us.
5. There is our own unique personality and temperament that adds to our frame of reference. Some are fragile to begin with, already struggling with depression and anxiety that are now exacerbated, because of the heartbreak that has occurred. Others tend to be tough natured and lose themselves in work and busyness. These are the default reactions that filter our heartbreaks.
6. Our walk with God.
How we view our situation can depend entirely upon where we are in our current walk with God. Or, where we were has little to do with it, as suddenly, we find ourselves shoved into a brand new place spiritually.
When our loss takes place, we may have been on a spiritual mountain top, and this sudden shock plummets us into an unexpected abyss. Maybe this is the catalyst for losing our spiritual strength, because it strips it bare. That which we thought was firm was only based upon a fragile faith.
And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. Mark 4:17
On the other hand, maybe we were in the strongest season of our spiritual life, and that will be what carries us through. Maybe we didn’t even realize the solidity of our faith. Surprising, but oh so blessed, is to arrive in our valley of pain, feeling weak and fragile in our faith, and realizing that there was more depth and substance to it than we realized. What we thought we would never be able to bear or walk through, we find we can, because we have a tenacious grip to our Redeemer’s hand. The Scriptures tell us to prepare ourselves for the unexpected.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27
Either way, our belief system plays a large role in our reactions to unexpected circumstances. God will always redeem our pain, and He will use trials to grow us in our walk with Him.
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3
7. Lastly, we cannot leave out the role Scripture plays in our circumstances. If we consider it our love letter from God, the source of our truth and comfort, then, it will be our sustenance during this time in our lies. Conversely, if it is “just a bunch of sacred writings” we will find little comfort or hope when turning to it. We also need to be sure that the truth makes it to our hearts and not just our heads.
And here is our crux. It is in our relationship with God and our dependence upon Scripture, in the “here and now,” that will be our life-lines—or not—during the crisis of our life. Some things we cannot change, such as the people and the circumstances in our lives, but one thing we can change is our pursuit of God, our surrender to Him, our stubborn clinging to Scripture even when reality seems to deny it’s truth.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC. Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp32p04-10-13