Little funerals

I heard on a podcast a few months ago from Emily Freeman about the importance of allowing yourself periods of mourning, even for things that we don’t traditionally think of as needing to mourn. She wasn’t talking about the awful circumstances that require legit grieving, like the death of a close friend or a failed relationship.

She was talking about those everyday disappointments in life. When your reality doesn’t quite match up to your expectation.

It didn’t ring very true to me at the time, but the more the concept has marinated in my mind, it makes a lot of sense.

These are those circumstances that maybe the average person wouldn’t consider a big deal. There’s no reason to be upset. Maybe it’s our own hearts telling us to just get over it.

Maybe it’s a new work situation, when you weren’t particularly asking for a change.

A long-anticipated trip that just kinda fizzled in fun once you got there.

Maybe a movie or book that you’d been fired up about, but fell really flat.

That diet that seems to be getting you nowhere.

A diagnosis that you’ve never heard of.

Maybe just the realization that something is a lot harder than you expected.

I recently had one. The counselor I’d been seeing just didn’t work out. It became evident that she just wasn’t a good fit for what I needed. So I asked for a new counselor. I knew it was the right thing to do, but I still struggled with some guilt, some phantom fear of disappointing someone. It niggled my brain for a couple of days. I got set up with another counselor, but still felt a little bothered.

I kept trying to let it go, just “get over it.” Finally, I remembered Emily’s advice to give myself room to grieve the disappoinment and I did. I let myself acknowledge the disappointment. Instead of trying to tell myself that I wasn’t bothered, that I didn’t feel bad, I acknowledged that I WAS, that I DID. That I had very mixed up feelings about the situation, ranging from guilt to anger.

I was already feeling those emotions, but trying NOT to. I needed closure, and I needed to make room to allow closure in.

So I did. I admitted to myself that I had a disappointing first experience with counseling. I had a little funeral, of sorts. I stopped everything and gave all my attention to this situation. I thought through and recited what was good about it. I also sorted through the negative emotions. I noted the destructive ones, because they are likely to resurrect themselves later. And I sought closure, to put this bothersome feeling away.

And, this is important, I prayed about it. I told God that it kinda hurt, and it kinda made me mad. I asked for help to stop feeling guilty over it. I told him I trusted Him, even in this.

I took a proactive step here. I addressed something that felt negative before it had the chance to make me feel true anxiety. I recognized the emotion and I was able to process it before it grew roots in my brain. I picked it up, examined it, gained appropriate perspective, and I put it away.

And I prayed. I let the situation lead me to an interaction with God. “In all your ways, acknowledge Him.” Proverbs 3:6. That’s the key. I shared my heart with my Creator, who understands all things about me and the swirling thoughts in my head, even better than I do myself.

To be honest, my little funeral hasn’t quite put the issue completely at rest. BUT, that part about acknowledging God is an ongoing process. When those people-pleasing fears creep up, I am ready to send them away again. I have already had a talk with them and I know that they’re not God-honoring thoughts. I have already red-flagged them as ENEMY, and, armed by the promises of God’s word, I can send the enemy running. And I can move on, without being spiritually and emotionally handicapped by crippling fears.

As we lay to rest all that destroys us, He transforms us into something greater, something more like Him. “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)

What other circumstances need a little funeral? What nagging fears or disappointments or resentments are floating around, unaddressed in my mind and heart? What if instead of trying to ignore them, I looked at them as an opportunity to acknowledge Him? Romans 12:2 instructs us to “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (NLT)

God doesn’t want us emotionally and spiritually crippled. He offers us freedom. Abundance. Life. Peace. How? “In all your ways, acknowledge Him.” Train your mind to view each circumstance as an opportunity to seek God – for praise, for help, for direction, for joy. For closure.

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