Dearest Rachel –
For all the Bible studies you went through several times a year…
I know you were rarely one to keep up with the every day assignments. I remember you sprawled out on the bed or the couch in the family room, catching up on the daily questions the evening prior to the weekly session, so that you would be able to contribute to the discussion the next day. You were a procrastinator, and while you weren’t exactly proud of it (any more than anyone is of a shortcoming), you managed to work with it, and still maintain a certain level of consistency in your studies despite it.
Well, it seems the ethos has somewhat rubbed off on me. Or maybe I was always a little like that to begin with (which would certainly explain our attraction to each other, if we agreed on something like this to a greater or lesser extent). The Grief Share workbook that accompanies our weekly meetings includes daily homework, which I just started today. Which means I’ve got to do three days worth of work in order to keep up.
The weird thing about the questions is that they ask me (or whoever’s going through the program) to focus on their feelings and write them down. Now, that’s understandable, as that’s basically what grief is – an overarching emotion specifically tied to a serious loss. But the feelings that accompany it change, and change rapidly, from day to day, or even hour to hour. What I write down one moment may not even be remotely accurate a couple hours later, let alone by next Monday.
I realize this is early into the program, but I’m not sure that this is off to an auspicious start. Maybe I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be doing in order to cope with all that I’m going through, but this doesn’t seem to be addressing it properly – at least, not yet.
How about the next day? Well, it has me looking into myself to determine if I think God has removed Himself somehow from me. As if He’s keeping his distance.
I wonder if my reaction has something to do with having a male perspective. You know, that stereotypical ‘cold facts and logic’ kind of outlook. Because I see a question like this and dismiss it as being simply absurd. On an intellectual level, I know that God has not removed Himself from me – and I certainly hope that I haven’t wandered away from Him.
On an emotional level, however, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt His presence or His leading; I’ve written to you about this plenty already. So why should now be any different? At least I find myself observing that things aren’t any worse in terms of my relationship with God. I know better than to question why; oh, that doesn’t mean I don’t have questions, it simply means I know better than to ask. After all, if God’s going to unload on Job with a whirlwind of ‘how dare you ask’ responses, I’m certainly not in any position to negotiate for answers. And besides, I know that where you are is better than anything I could imagine here on earth, and eventually, I’ll join you up there. I just have to wait and be patient, and it will all sort itself out.
Now, if you ask me all this in another day or two, my answer might be completely different, and I might actually be screaming at the sky, “smite me, oh mighty Smiter,” or some such. I doubt it, but anything’s possible.
Does this mean I’ve regained my equilibrium faster than the average person who goes through this program? Hardly. I’m sure this is all part of the process; I think I’m just a little more self-aware than most, and it honestly might have to do with the fact that I keep analyzing myself as I keep you up-to-date with everything that I’m going through. And of course, some of the things that I’m putting myself through that are so far out of my comfort zone may also have something to do with it. I just don’t know.
So, what about the third day? Well, it seems to be addressing our natural tendency to paper over our feelings. Specifically, how we present ourselves to other people; how to respond to “how are you doing?” and the fact that most people will just respond with “fine,” or some variation thereof.
I guess I haven’t really talk to you about that sort of issue, now that I think about it. But you know me; I rarely react in such a conventional manner. Usually it’s a question, you know, “do you want the full story, or are you just trying to say ‘hi’?” Either that, or a simple, head-on approach to the question, “you know, I never know how to answer that these days.” Maybe I am better adjusted to the situation than most people at this point.
Or maybe it just doesn’t occur to me to try and pretend everything’s fine. I’ve never been one to filter myself too much, and this just gives me more of an excuse not to bother. I’m probably not even as concerned that this is likely somewhat off putting to others as I probably ought to be. It’s one of those weird situations where nobody really knows how to react, so I just don’t try to overthink it.
Well, I’ll keep you up-to-date as it occurs to me on these sessions. As always, honey, wish me luck.