Today I am blessed to see a dream come true with the launching of my Blog site! Wordless Groans is a concept that has rolled around in my head and formalized from Romans 8:26 (ESV):
” Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes with groanings too deep for words.”
This day of release, Father’s Day, perfectly embodies the heart and soul of Wordless Groans. Loss comes in many forms, and on a day of honor and celebration, hearts can be cracked, buried, and hidden from view of family and friends. We plant a smile on our faces while silently wrestling for breath to curl out from under the brick weighing on our chest. We lick our wounds, deny our past, or mourn our loss, all the while praying no one asks or brings up the subject at hand. After all, celebration is a part of living. We need it. We value it. We thrive on it, and it should not be denied to others.
For some of us, on this one day, the self-care we so desperately need is hidden away from the world. Lurking behind the memes, happy family photos, and loving father quotes is the intense groaning of our grief. Whether you have lost your father to estrangement, distance, death, or the kind of loss you never had the chance to know, you are searching to find comfort in your sorrow.
In Lewis Carroll’s tale, ‘Alice In Wonderland,’ Alice frivolously celebrated a birthday that wasn’t. By comparison, this is where I find myself today, with a twist; the” Very Un-Father’s Day.” As I searched my way to finding comfort, Alice had a curious conversation with Cheshire Cat. She was lost and trying to find her way:
Alice: “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cat: “That depends a good deal where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where…”
Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Alice is lost, and yet, she doesn’t have a destination. Grief needs a destination to land on, or it’s just going to be out there wandering around, like Alice!
My dad passed away this past November. As the saying goes, it feels like yesterday. In the week of his death, I walked through the motions of making funeral arrangements, finding a nice suit, writing a proper obituary, and making some videos and picture boards. The busyness of the moment created the purpose my heart needed to keep the cracks from showing. I hardly remember crying. I felt in control, accomplished, and relieved to find that the dam was still holding the floodgates of grief in place.
A month later, grief showed its way into my home. It started as the pesky annoyance of being unable to find a family angel to sit on top of my Christmas tree. Grief stirred the pot. The angel my parents used throughout many family Christmas’ was nowhere to be found. Christmas had been dad’s favorite holiday. Tearing through box after box of disappointment, grief whispered: “It’s gone. You’ll never get it back.”
I choked the tears back in my throat until, finally, the elusive angel wrapped in dusty tissue paper surfaced.
The irony of it all, is that I saw the most pitiful looking angel staring back at me. Her wings were falling off, she had holes in the netting, and half of her feathers were gone. I had a half-bald, wingless angel in my hand! My giggles quickly began dissolving into tears. This tattered object had a profound effect on my heart. It wasn’t about the angel. It was about my dad. “He’s gone. I’ll never get him back.” The groanings were deep-seated in me with no place to go. No destination. They asked in a most Alice kind of way: “Would you tell me please, which way to go from here?”
Just a few short month’s later my father-in-law passed away. It was April of this year, smack in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Gatherings of no more than 10 people in masks made it possible for my husband, a funeral director, to arrange a private family visitation for his dad. Past grief wedged its way into my heart, uninvited. ‘Now is not the time,’ I growled silently at this unwelcome visitor.
Meanwhile, my husband and his family have had their grief seemingly hijacked at the moment, like many other people around the world. As of today, a final celebration of his dad’s life is pending. Once again, griefs destination is unknown. If you do not know, like Alice, the where or the when, “it doesn’t much matter which way you go…”
We could learn a thing or two about the path of grief from a man named Joseph. When Joseph’s father, Jacob, dies in Genesis 50:1:
“Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.” The account of his grief goes on to say that he called for his father to be embalmed. They mourned for 70 days and they carried him, “with great company” to Canaan and the family tomb. They lamented “with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days.”
Genesis 50:14 continues:
“After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.”
Which way did Joseph go? He followed a path that was long, hard, and grievous. Joseph fell upon his father and wept openly. He allowed the community to help him and accompany him through his grieving process. Finally, after he buried his father and the mourning was over, he went home. There was a beginning, middle, and end. His grief had a destination that gave him direction. None of us, including Joseph, can find the clarity or the strength to do this alone, though. You may be able to find the destination, but someone else needs to provide the keys.
Mathew 5:4 states:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Let that verse saturate you for a moment.
Masking grief, hiding behind the business of the moment, or allowing the world to hijack whatever kind of sorrow you may be going through, is closing the door to comfort. The decay that resides within you stays within you because the door to comfort has been locked.
The Holy Spirit, by definition, is our comforter. He is our destination. Make no mistake. He knows our suffering. He hears the groanings of our hearts and is the window to our souls. However, just because He can see in, doesn’t mean He can come in. We must invite Him. Only then, like the best friend you have ever had, can He walk into your heart and comfort you.
In the devotion from “Word For You,” entitled “Overcoming the Monster of Grief.” this quote grabbed my attention:
“Grief buried is unfinished business.”
That word picture spoke volumes to me. If I pretend all is well, without taking the proper time and care to mourn as Joseph did, grief will keep clawing its way out of the tomb to haunt me.
The only way to give grief a final burial is to provide it with its proper season. There is no short cut. We have to fall on its face and weep over it. We have to open the window and invite the Holy Spirit in, who already knows our weakness and sorrow. We have to be willing to have the hard conversations with Him, acknowledge our hurts and loss to Him, and cling to Him in the language of love only He understands. He promises to help you in your weakness if you will only groan to Him from your heart’s very depths!
Going through the motions on your own will only carry you so far. On this very Un – Father’s Day, what is your destination? Which door will you open: the door to comfort or the door that has you spinning slowly down the rabbit hole? There are many keys, Alice. Only One is going to help you find your way home.