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“God, I can’t take this pain anymore. It cuts too deep, and it hurts too much. I need to cry. I need to grieve. I feel as if I’m going to explode. I can’t do this any longer. I just can’t.”

I know I’m not alone in having these thoughts. If you’ve faced a deep loss, you too know the sound of desperate, shattered heart-cries. You know the suffocating grief that presses down upon your chest, making every breath an effort. You know the sharp pain that grips your heart. You know. 

Last week we talked about how it’s okay to protect your wounds so you can heal—how it’s unwise to “keep ripping the bandage off” our wounds until we are healed. (If you missed Part One, you can read it here.)

This week, I’d like to share another truth I learned in my time of healing from my broken marriage. I pray that God will use this truth to comfort you, no matter what kind of pain you are facing today.

Part Two: In order to heal, you must grieve. 

I thought I was tough enough to handle it, but I wasn’t.

Far, far from it.

The truth had come out. Everything I had believed to be true was a lie. The very foundations of my world were ripped out from under me.

I was shattered, and just barely holding it together.

I was betrayed. I wasn’t good enough. I had never been good enough. Was I even loved? Had I ever been loved?

“God, how am I supposed to live like this? How am I supposed to go on?”

But I did. Every morning, I got up. My sons and I prepared for school.

I drove my school bus. I went through the motions of teaching my kindergarten class.

I went home again. Did laundry. Cooked dinner. Packed lunches.

And all the while, turmoil raged within. Sometimes, I felt deep despair. What was the point of even trying anymore?

Sometimes, I felt raging anger. How could this happen to me?

Other times, I felt confusion. What went wrong? I tried so hard—so hard—to do everything right.

And all the time—all the time—I felt deep, deep grief.

But I had a problem: I couldn’t grieve openly. Every single moment of every day I was surrounded by people. Students at school, students on my bus, family at home.

I was never alone.

And so I stuffed all that grief inside.

I never cried. Tried to hide the sadness.

Tried to smile. One foot in front of the other. Just keep going. Just keep hiding the pain. 

This, my friend, is a very dangerous way to live, for God created us with emotions. Emotions are not meant to control our lives, but they are meant to be felt.

If you don’t allow yourself to feel them, eventually it will catch up with you.

When I began to have chest pain, I realized my mistake. If I continued to hold my grief inside, the result would be disastrous—physically, emotionally, spiritually.

But I still didn’t know what to do about it.

“Okay, Lord. I know I need to grieve. You’ve shown me that. But how in the world am I supposed to do this? You’re going to have to give me a place to cry.”

And He did.

I realized there was a time when I was all alone. It was only a 20-minute window of time, but it was enough.

This may sound strange to some, but my bathroom became a place of refuge—the place where I poured out my grief to God.

With the door locked and the shower running, no one could hear my sobs. No one could see my tears.

No one but Jesus.

As the warm water poured down, washing away the cares of the day, hot tears flowed down my face, washing the wounds of my soul.

Every night for months, I met Jesus there. He held me as I cried, and comforted me as only One Who knew the depths of my anguish could comfort.

As I allowed myself to grieve, I began the slow process of healing. I also gained strength, which I would need for the upcoming years. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my battle was not nearing an end. In fact, it was just beginning.

I believe if I hadn’t grieved during this time, I wouldn’t have gained the strength and healing I desperately needed for the years to follow.

My friend, please hear this:

If you have faced a great loss, you must take  time to grieve that loss.

It doesn’t matter what kind of loss it is. You may have lost your marriage as I did, or lost your spouse in death. You may have lost a child, whether they departed from this earth in death or from your presence in rebellion. Perhaps you’ve lost a relationship, your home, your health, or a life-long dream.

It really doesn’t matter what the loss is—you must grieve.

Even Jesus grieved deeply. We see Him weeping over the lost, weeping over Jerusalem, weeping in the Garden before facing the cross.

My friend, it’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to pour out your heart to God.

As you grieve, know that God is with you. Know that He holds you close and keeps every tear.

Know that His Word is full of promises to help you in your time of sorrow. Find these promises, write them down, carry them with you. Don’t let them go—they are your lifeline.

Most of all, know this:

You won’t always feel as you do today. One day, the tears will stop falling. Your heart will stop breaking.

The sun will shine again.

Until then, take all the time you need to grieve. Everything will be okay, because you are held safe in the arms of Jesus.

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.”

(Psalm 61:1-4)