I get a fair amount of email. Some of it is a blessing and quite encouraging. Some not so much in either category. But the ones that break my heart are the e-mails from wounded and deeply discouraged people who have been devastated by life, the church and especially other churchgoers. I try to be encouraging. I try to offer perspective. But I wish I could do more. I wish I could help those battered and limping follower travelers find the abundant life that I wrote about recently.
Be patient. Encourage. Love. It is my timing and not yours. You were not ready to receive this message when the wounds were fresh.
I thought about my journey and I realized that the well-known theory of the five stages of grief applied to my healing. You have likely heard of the model introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying”. The stages are known as the “Five Stages of Grief”. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I realized that I had to go through those stages to get to the point of healing. Hopefully I can shorten the stages significantly as I mature in Christ and trust who He says I am. But I hope it helps those of you going through this difficult process to know you are not a failure if healing takes longer than you hoped.
How did the stages play out for me? I will give the secular example followed by the spiritual parallel.
Spiritual – “How could a Christian do something like this? How can they read the Bible, hear teaching, go to Bible studies and then act like this? I don’t understand how this is happening!”
Bargaining: Secular – “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out a few more years?”
Depression: Secular – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
Acceptance – Secular – “It’s going to be OK.”
“The abundant life is comparing God’s character, faithfulness and ability with my particular circumstances and believing that God’s character trumps my circumstance.”
I am just learning to trust that truth after all of these years. Slow learner? You bet. But I am learning nonetheless.