In one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Avatar the Last Airbender, there is a tag-line that is memorable: “then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” The story goes that throughout the world there was peace and harmony. Then a catastrophic event occurred that upset the balance in the world and everything was changed. How many of us have had those “everything changed” moments, where we thought life was going one way, but then something happened that we could never have expected. The fact that many of us have had those moments does not make them any less significant, any less painful, or any less raw. To those who are going through those moments I just wanted to say a few things that I hope might reach you through the grief and pain:
1. Don’t let anyone devalue your emotions: I believe it’s safe to say that a lot of us are uncomfortable with sadness. When someone opens up to us about their grief and pain, the worst thing we could do is try to push them along as quickly as possible into happiness. For those who are going through “everything changed” moments, the last thing they need to be told is that their pain is not significant. Your pain is significant, it is worthy of grieving, and you have a right to grieve in the way God calls you. Jesus wept, so you can too.
2. Get familiar with the Psalms: The Psalms are filled with lamentations. The book is filled with poetry that speaks to the immense pain and grief of losing loved ones, having dreams shattered, and struggling with the guilt of regret. There are lines that cry out accusing God of wrongdoing, and there are lines that wrestle with the doubts that creep in once we’ve experienced those “everything changed” moments. One might think that these aren’t feelings or actions we want to emulate; however, God deems them worthy to be included in scripture. We know that God does not shy away from these feelings, and he doesn’t leave us in them either. He is willing to walk with us through that pain, through that suffering, and we don’t have to be ashamed if we cry out in anger, pain, frustration or doubt. God will deliver us through those moments.
3. Ask, “What is God teaching me?”: In 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, Paul informs the Corinthian church about the hardships, pains, and fears he and his companions went through. They felt as if they were about to die, and that they were under so much pressure that they could not even bear it all. In that moment, they reached out to God in hopes that they might get relief. God taught them this truth: “Don’t rely on yourselves, rely on Me.” Through all their pain, God delivered them. I’m sure this is a difficult lesson to learn, especially when you’re in the midst of a valley. And not everyone is taught the same lesson in their specific valley. My encouragement to you is to see where God might be leading you through your “everything changed” moment.