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Quiet and Rest for the Still Grieving Heart

Quiet and Rest for the Still Grieving Heart

I just want to do.

I’m always in need of a project, or a cause. Something big, something tough, something worthy that I can sink my teeth into and pour all of my energy into and get consumed by. Hours of toil, mind-numbing problem-solving, energy-draining effort – they all make me feel productive. Useful. Alive.

Just don’t ask me to be.

“Be still and know that I am God”.


I’m not still, ever. Not in body and certainly not in mind. I am a perpetually dynamic force of emotional busyness that always has to be figuring or solving or creating or fighting. It takes me an average of an hour and a half to fall asleep every night because I can’t stop thinking about what I’m doing, what I’m going to do, what I did that I feel badly about, or what I am not doing and should be. And, because I usually can’t make my attitudes or actions keep up with my self-imposed, cause-dedicated expectations, I end up feeling chronically glass-half-empty.

And now, more than a year after Dominic, simply being often opens up a chasm of emotion.

As ironic as it sounds, tragedies, like Dominic’s loss, give me purpose. As horrendous and awful as the experience was, it gave me focus, direction. All of my energy and efforts were channeled in one way, and I saw, moment by moment, how The Lord was working. God’s will and voice become crystallized and clear and, through writing about our saga, I felt useful, meaningful. But now, over a year later, that purpose has faded. I am no longer the grieving mother in need of the Lord’s sustaining grace every second. I don’t feel, every morning anymore, a new, specific way The Lord is showing Himself through Dominic’s tragedy. Time has moved on. Life has moved on.

But I haven’t moved on.

I wonder, sometimes, at what point I leave the “legitimate grieving mother” realm and enter the “poor, maladjusted gal who needs to up the Zoloft and counseling appointments” realm.

My Dad reminded me, the other day, that grief takes so much longer for the person experiencing it than we ever think it will. And it’s so very true. Now that the “Dominic year” is over, and I’m supposed to be getting back into regular life, I realize that I’m not exactly sure how I fit into regular life. In spite of the way Dominic has changed my life for the better, it’s not all neat and tidy and closed. I have moments of weeping during Sunday morning worship. Being around people for long periods of time wears me out. I can get gut-punched by an unexpected baby sighting. Learning about newly pregnant people – especially it’s-their-third-baby pregnant people – brings up lots of emotions for me.

I still cannot attend baby showers.

Yes, grief is a long process. And in spite of my efforts to do and focus and fix, I have yet to conquer it.

Of course, that’s part of the problem. I’m not supposed to be trying to conquer it.

I’m not sure how much of it is where I am in the grief process, and how much of it is just me, but the daily routine, the mundane nature and ordinariness of existence sift me and shake my soul. I end up feeling lost and adrift at the sea of irrelevance, just longing for some “moment” when my passions and purpose will align with God’s will. I feel like I am in a perpetual state of waiting. Waiting for…

I’ve got a list, but I’m not entirely sure that getting what’s on my list will actually get me to the place I want to be.

“Be still and know that I am God”.

It’s always been this way for me. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait for the day when I could drive. When I could drive, I couldn’t wait to go to college. When I got to college, I couldn’t wait until I got married. When I got married, I couldn’t wait to have children. Now, after Dominic, and with no future children on the horizon, I’m…


Where do I fit, now, Lord, in your plan? What is next? Yes, I know my charge is to raise my children to be your servants, and I am doing everything within my power to bring that about, but they are getting older and needing me less and I just want to do for you.

Do. Something.

If it’s not going to be babies, then I need something else, Lord. Please, something else. So I don’t always feel the longing.

I have prayed about this. I have sought guidance, and I have begged for my way, and I have told God what I thought He should do with me and with my life. I’ve even, in my better moments, actually listened to Him and searched His word for His words to me.

I found them, but, as usual, they weren’t what I wanted to hear.

Recently the Lord’s reverberations in my soul have had the same refrain. I’ve felt Him speak into my need to control and accomplish and find a project or purpose through activity. It came through Isaiah 30:15:

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”.

Rest. Quietness. Everything that is the opposite of my soul. I really don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to transform a heart in turmoil and activity and conquering into a soul of peace. I guess the answer is that I don’t do it – He does it, which is the whole point of resting and being quiet, but…

Being rather than doing.

The Lord reinforced this message recently when a friend dropped by my house with a special gift she had obtained for me from her mission trip in Haiti. It was a wall ornament, with a blue background and hand-stitched letters of reed – the verse from John 14: “Peace I give to you”. Jesus is peace. So why is my heart always so perpetually, chronically at unrest?

I don’t have the answers. But as I write this, I sit on the front porch of my parents’ house, beneath a crystal clear sky, overlooking the grey-blue mountains. I hear the chirping of crickets, already, even though it is only late afternoon, and I see chickens happily pecking the ground in the field in front of me. I hear the sweet sounds of my daughter searching for worms, and watch the sunlight dance through the tendrils of her hair. The din in my heart starts to lessen and the beat of my soul begins to keep time with the chirping and the cadence of divine truth.

Peace.The weight of the world – my soul weight – lifts…just a bit. For now.

It is rest and quietness for today.

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