Grief is like a magnifying glass. You focus on what you lost, but the rest of your mind is blurred and numb so that you can’t think clearly. You want to go back to the way it used to be, before the loss. Sometimes the thing we grieve isn’t the death of a beloved person, but a self-chosen change. We decide to move across the country, or we decide to say, “no”, to a job that is burdensome in order to say, “yes” to a new opportunity that fits us better. Even in these situations I find myself grieving for what I lost rather than focusing on the as yet to be realized gain.
The classic example of this is in the Bible. When Moses led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt to trek across the wilderness to the promised land, they wanted to turn back, even though they were told the new place was flowing with milk and honey. They weren’t gone more than a few days before they’d forgotten the harsh slavery and could only focus on the food they missed. There is a repeated chorus of, “if only we were still in Egypt,” and “if only we’d never left.” Their grief stricken minds couldn’t remember the promise of something better. They didn’t want to stay the course even when they could see the promised land just ahead of them and saw with their own eyes the produce of that land. (Exodus 14:10-31; 16:1-17:7; Numbers 13:26-14:4)
I am just coming out of a period of grief over a change that felt like a release from bondage. Yet for weeks my numb mind could not think nor could I write. I could only focus on sorrow, completely stuck and wallowing. I wanted to go back, just like the Israelites, even though God promised something better if I acted in obedience to what I perceived He was calling me to do.
When we are grieving over choices like this, it’s helpful to remember that, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV) We will feel better if we stay the course, even through pain. God is with us always, even when we are too numb to remember who we are.
Have a blessed day traveling to your personal promised land.