If you are alive and breathing, I’d say the chances are close to one hundred percent that you have felt pain or experienced a loss. And even still, so often, we find ourselves with an immense fear of facing a loss or feeling pain. Today, our goby team wants to offer you some encouragement that can help you on this human journey of enduring through the hard seasons you will inevitably face. The following are resources from experts and fellow journeyers that will give you practical steps to take when we walk through challenges. Remember, faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is having hope in God’s provision and taking action even when fear seems overwhelming.
“The greatest loss is your own.”
Some of us have experienced unthinkable loss and the grief that follows. But many of us experience losses that we do not consider significant because “it could always be worse.” While a positive outlook is healthy, we must avoid ignoring our own emotional landscape. Whether it is the pandemic, a relationship that ended, our kids transitioning to new stages, a job that ended, a physical change or challenge, all of these, at their core, are losses. We could be experiencing grief symptoms as a result.
David Kessler is a grief expert and had an incredible discussion with Brene Brown about the time-tested stages of grief and the additional stage that comes from his research. Recorded in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, there is a lot of time spent on the collective grief we experienced as a society. We are still feeling those residual effects now. The conversation continues with the importance of finding meaning when we experience loss. As we all experience loss, listening to this episode will arm us with the tools to endure.
Research shows that meditation reduces stress, pain, and feelings of depression and has a myriad of health benefits. Prayer and meditation share many similarities and serve a lot of the same purposes. Prayer is reflection. Recognizing something outside of yourself (God) is in control. Meditation’s foundational intention is to ground yourself in the present moment. No matter if we are experiencing incredible pain or not, we can all benefit from taking time to slow down and reflect.
The daily examen is an ancient spiritual practice dating back to the 16th century. Founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the prayer directs us to reflect and connect to the power greater than us. This video offers a guided walk thru of the steps of the prayer of examen. Take ten minutes to try this tool and see how it can impact your daily moments.
Oftentimes, the fear of experiencing pain or loss drives us to do anything to avoid these feelings. But ignoring these feelings and not engaging the range of human emotions can have negative impacts. At the most basic level, fear is an emotion, not good or bad. It’s natural; every human experiences it. In the Bible, we are called to have courage, but that does not mean the absence of fear. It means taking action even when fear is present.
In his article, Assael Romanelli talks about our emotions on a scale of 1-10, with the dark feelings on the lower side and the brightest feelings at the high levels. We often live in a truncated range of emotions, from 4-6, for example, to avoid dark emotions. But as a result, we don’t have access to the highest emotions, deep joy, what the Bible describes as shalom. In order to experience that fullness of life that God has for us, we must work to engage in the valleys so we can savor the mountaintops. As Romanelli mentions:
“The key to joy is in your pain.”
Praying with you through the mountaintops and the valleys.
Toby and the Goby Team