I want to tell you about a book. A beautiful, wonderful, terrible, moving, life-altering little book. What I mean by that is, upon finishing it, I (an avid reader) couldn’t find another volume in my library which I felt could even begin to come near to the experience I’d just lived through.
As with yesterday, the following comes courtesy of Grace Hill Media, and makes a compelling point about the vulnerability which accompanies grief. When we are desperate–hurting, grieving, alone–we are often altogether too open to anything which will assuage the pain, numb it, drown out its voice.
Yet that very voice always comes screaming back, shrieking like a banshee, claws like meat hooks piercing our souls. The late, great C.S. Lewis well said that "our passions are not too strong, but too weak… We muck about with drink and sex, when all the the splendors of heaven are open to us."
Yet when we are down in the very depths of despair we don't see that splendor. Grief, loss, pain pale the light, and we reach out for whatever shred of comfort we can find.
Sometimes that takes us to dark places. Whatever comfort we find there turns to ashes and dust, blowing away upon a baleful wind.
And then there is hell to pay…
We know this, but when we're that far gone into despondency we don't care. God doesn't seem real any longer, or if we cling to a shred of faith in his existence, it's in a capricious deity who doesn't care.
Else why would he cause, or allow, us such pain?
Thus the downward spiral goes.
Fortunately, as David wrote, even the darkness is as light to him. And the thing about hitting bottom is that we've hit bottom. We may not be able to see it at the time, but there is a way back up…
Without further ado, Grace Hill Media:
Comforting Those Who Need Us Most
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
Life is a miracle filled with God’s blessings, love, and cherished memories. Life also comes with struggles, temptations, and loss. At some point in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one. Our grief is one of the hardest things to overcome – and it manifests differently for everyone. We as God’s creatures love deeply and thus we feel loss strongly.
For many, it takes time, faith, prayer, and support to heal from the loss of a loved one. But for some, the journey may be too difficult and their burden too heavy. We’ve all heard that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But what if someone struggles to heal? What happens if they get stuck in one of the stages of grief – anger- for example can lead to a great deal of self-destruction. How far might a person go “to make the pain go away.”
There’s an upcoming film “Annabelle: Creation” that deals with this very premise. I’m not usually a fan of horror movies but there’s something in the storyline of this upcoming film that’s worth talking about. The movie begins with two parents – the Mullins – who suffer through the unimaginable and sudden death of their daughter. Their grief is unbearable, and it is when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable that temptation and evil comes with whispers of consolation, and a way of “seeing” their little girl again. I don’t want to give away any more plot spoilers, but needless to say the Mullins give into temptation, and a supernatural battle against evil takes place in their home. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you may really enjoy this film which releases in theaters this Friday, August 11.
Though the Mullins are fictional characters, the idea that we’ll do anything to hold on to a loved one who has passed and/or that evil wants to take advantage of us during a time when we are vulnerable can be very real.
Grief, especially when it comes unexpectedly, can crush the spirit of even the strongest among us. As Christians, it is my hope that whenever we come across someone who is grieving, we reach out to comfort and support them with their immediate needs (ex. cooking dinner for the family, babysitting the children, etc.).
It is also my hope that we minister and share God love with them and remind them that they are not alone. As Christians it is our duty to take care, comfort, and pray for one another. Healing may take weeks, months, or years, but it is a comfort when they know they can turn to God and to their neighbors to help them through.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:3
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Relax. No, I don’t have cancer, but it runs in my family. I’ve lost both a grandmother, and an uncle, to it. Because of this, despite not yet being fifty, I’m supposed to get an annual colonoscopy.
I’ve yet to have one.
The reason for this is simple, stupid, but nevertheless true: I’ve had a flexible sigmoidoscopy. What’s that, you ask?
A sigmoidoscopy is colonoscopy’s younger sibling (or maybe its second cousin, twice removed). All of the prep work is the same; meaning no food beginning 12-24 hours prior, stool softeners, and that lovely Cascara, which is like drinking chalk-flavored Gatorade.
In case you missed that, one’s mission–whether one accepts it, or not–is to self-induce diarrhea in advanced of undergoing the procedure. On purpose.
People died of diarrhea during the Civil War!
In any case, while the preparations are similar, there is one crucial difference between the flex sig and a full colonoscopy; namely, that a colonoscopy is done under general anesthesia, whereas the sigmoidoscopy is done fully awake.
Yes, you read that right: it’s done entirely conscious. And while both are out patient procedures, the former is usually done in a hospital, while the latter can be done in one’s doctor’s office.
If my understanding is correct, the prevailing medical thought is that because the flexible sigmoidoscopy doesn’t go as far into the colon, it’s less a pain in the butt, and can consequently be done awake.
Let that sink in.
One reports to one’s doctor’s office, after having quite literally crapped one’s guts out, to lie prone upon a table, in a too-cold room, with nothing but a paper gown on to ward off the chill. The doctor enters, with a nurse, because like the boy and girl scouts this requires two-deep leadership (it wouldn’t do to have anything untoward occur). And then, without so much as a by-your-leave (or even dinner), lube is lugubriously applied to a region reserved as an exit only zone. After that, a long tube, at a snail’s pace, is inserted. All the while, the nurse is encouraging relaxation; “just breathe,” she says.
Relaxation is about the farthest thing from one’s mind at that point. It’s more like grin and bear it–or grimace and bear it. One of the two. The best that can happen is an uneasy peace; it’s not going to last forever, or one will die right there of embarrassment.
There is after all a long, dark tube right up there in the Hershey Highway.
But the worst is yet to come:
Air, like helium into party balloons, is pumped up in there so that the doctor may better appreciate the structures of the lower bowel. Only it’s no party; it’s quite literally a pain in the butt. And beyond.
As a patient, whether one can, or cannot, see the monitor upon which the Colon Cam is displayed, one’s doctor will typically begin a descriptive video service. (Nowhere did this item ever even begin to appear on my bucket list: have your sigmoid colon described in vivid detail by your doctor). “That’s a hemorrhoid! There’s another one! Good! Don’t see any polyps! Oh, look! A piece of poo!”
If one felt embarrassed before, that right there would be where the bottom fell out of the nadir of embarrassment. Oh, to melt through the table, into the floor, and be no more! Curse this too, too solid flesh!
Then at last it’s over, one is handed tissues to wipe off the thick, viscous jelly from one’s nethers; the doctor and nurse exuent omnes, and one is left to contemplate the series of events leading to this tube time and place.
Wiping, washing, and dressing complete, one is free to leave; breathing a sigh (or several) of relief, thinking the worst is behind you.
Oh, how wrong that is!
The air pumped up in there, no longer having a tube occluding its exit route, discovers the point of least resistance–namely, one’s anus. If the blow-by-blow of the colon highway was the bottom dropping out of the nadir of the experience this is somehow even lower.
It’s not just a little gas; it’s like the inevitable results of a weeklong refried bean binge, the Vesuvius of anal expulsions (think pyroclastic flow–all hot ash and gas, no lava), and the Manhattan Project all rolled into one. In other words, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Yet other than death there is no escaping these noxious emissions.
And that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is why I have yet to have a full colonoscopy. The defense rests. I place myself upon the mercy of the court.
Have you had a colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy? How did it go?
Looking in the mirror and what do I see?
Whose is this face staring back at me?
Familiar in outline, but foreign in detail
Craggy, careworn features all over prevail
But who is he?
Is this me?
Inside, he feels the same small boy
Curious, quick, and ruddy of mind
Rich inside life bringing joy
But somewhere, having lost track of time
The visage reflected, as in a mirror darkly
Yet somehow still so very, very starkly
Shows one thing above all others:
The face is