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Progress Redefined

I found a new truth in Grief recently. I’ve been pressing into His Word. Leaning on His promises. Trusting Him to lead me to the next step and then the next. Feeling like I was “making progress” in my grief work. And there are a few things I’ve discovered worthy of passing along to others.

Progress gets redefined when it comes to grief.

Webster's definition of progress is to proceed, to develop a higher, better, or more advanced stage. And the problem with this definition is that we tend to focus on the “more advanced” part. It becomes a measurement of sorts that we use against ourselves as we walk this journey of grief. I know. I’ve measured myself more times than not in the past few years. And I always fall short. This leads to a self-focused view. It turns our thoughts and eyes on Self. “How am I doing with my grief?” There’s nothing wrong with an honest evaluation of how we handle our grief. But if we only look at ourselves, we will always fall short. Instead, I am slowly learning that in my grief, I need to focus on where God is. What does He say about my grief? How does He want me to see the sorrow, joy, pain, void, and growth that grief brings into our lives? I looked at all the brave things I have done since my husband has gone Home and measured my success on the things I had done. New home. Ne friendships. New career opportunities. And I thought, “Ok, I think I’m ready to do this next big thing. I’ve advanced in my grief enough; I think I can…” (Fill in the blank. For me, it was buying a house on my own.) Then the grief came around. It came around and knocked me off my feet. It held me to the ground, immobilizing me. As I called on God, He met me there. Again.

As He always does. And He whispered to me, “There is nothing to prove, Daughter. You are Mine. I am right here. Breathe.” And in that tender moment, I realized I was trying to measure my progress by things I had done, forgetting that apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5b). Forgetting that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). It was the “without Him” and the “with Him” part that stuck out for me. I was forgetting that everything is from Him. Everything is for Him (Romans 11:36). It’s not my job to prove I have gone so far in my grief. It’s not about proving I am now past this point in grief and am “moving on.” I am His. I will wake up another day with breath in my lungs and hope in my heart. Because of Him. Learning to walk, breathe, and see in this truth is progress.

This grief work is not about how far I can go. It’s not about advancing through to some level imagined in our minds that will magically make us not in grief anymore. It’s about trusting Him for our every need. It’s about learning more and more about His steadfast love and reliable promises. It’s about realizing that wherever grief takes me, it can never take me from His presence. I’m already there! And nothing can take me from His love; “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come…” (Romans 8:38). Today, if you’re grieving, go easy on yourself. Rest in the truth. He is always with you, faithful in all of His promises, and nothing can take you away from Him or this truth.

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