Reality is where we find God.
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Scazzero mentions this earlier in the book, and expands on this point in Chapter 7 to help explain why grief is so important.
"The true spiritual life is not an escape from reality, but an absolute commitment to it. Loss marks the place where self-knowledge and powerful transformation happen–if we have the courage to participate fully in the process...The central message of Christ is that suffering and death bring resurrection and transformation...Resurrection only comes out of death–real death. Our losses are real. And so is our God, the living God."
We want to begin by asking: Are you in touch with your reality? Do you need a reality check in your life?
These questions are an important place to start because, again, Scazzero stresses the importance of self-awareness. Only when we are self-aware of our limits, losses and pain can we move forward on the journey to transformation. We encourage you to start by evaluating your reality. What do you need to grieve? What have you lost? What are your limits?
Oftentimes we know the obvious, "proper" times to grieve (e.g. when a family member dies, a divorce or breakup, etc), but forget the smaller, daily things in our lives that we need to grieve as well (e.g. disappointment, unmet expectations, changes in friendships, etc.). All of these are losses, no matter how big or small, and all bring some level of pain that needs to be grieved.
With that in mind, Scazzero outlines the 5 stages of Biblical grieving drawn from the story of Job. Our hope is to help guide you along as you begin this process, so below are questions and suggestions to help you with each stage. Do not rush this, take your time.
1. Pay Attention
Pay attention to God and to yourself. Identify your loss, pain and limits. Be honest with yourself and God. Give yourself permission to feel your pain, no matter how big or small the limit or loss.
Q. Where in your life are you sad? Angry? Disappointed? Who/what have you lost? What are your limits (pg.147)? What can't you do? What are you lacking?
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2. Wait in the Confusing In-Between
Identify how you normally cope with loss and pain. Review the defense mechanisms on pg. 141 and 142: which one(s) do you commonly use to protect yourself from pain? Rather than try to control your pain by running, medicating or hiding, practice sitting and being present in the confusion. Create space to be aware and awake to the great mystery of who God is.
Q. How does your theology of God explain suffering and pain? Do you believe your suffering "makes sense?" Is it deserved? Do you believe that your suffering and loss is correlated with what you do/don't do for God? Or because of sin in your life?
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3. Embrace the Gifts of Limits
Identify your limits (pg. 147). Which resonate with you most? Identify how you normally handle and respond to your limits. Do you burn out? Do you get depressed? Do you blame others (pg. 148)?
Q. Can you embrace not only your limits, but also the limits of those around you? Can you accept who you are, with all of your limits and know that you are enough?
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4. Climb the Ladder of Humility
Identify where you are on the ladder of humility (pg. 150). Make a daily choice to choose love over revenge, blame and bitterness.
Q. Have you surrendered your own self-will to God's will? How do you respond to the limits and faults of those around you? Are you open to accepting God's will as it comes through others?Identify how you are being someone you are not.
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5. Let the Old Birth the New
Just like the Wall changes you if you let it, grief will bless you if you allow it. Resurrection can only come from death.
Q. Do you trust God with all the pain, loss and limits you have and will experience? Can you fully let go and trust God with all of your limits and losses, closing the door to old relationships, expectations, dreams, etc?
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We hope these questions help you dive deeper into each stage as you search your heart and become more aware of who you are and where you are at on the journey. As you begin to experience the pain and suffering that comes with grief, we want to remind you of Rob's sermon from 2 weeks ago on "The Table." You are not alone. Remember, the table was always meant to remind us of the cross. At the cross, Jesus stands in solidarity with anyone who suffers, he is broken for you and broken with you. When we suffer, he suffers. It is a place to mourn, to grieve, to repent. God meets us there to bring peace.
> > > by Stefanie Drawdy