Back in the Saddle

Last week I felt like I was in a fog.  If you read my blog (no pressure), you know my dad died unexpectedly after having a massive stroke.  Five days later we said goodbye to our oldest son and daughter-in-law who moved to Cambodia.  They’ll be there for the … next … four … years … serving as missionaries.  My fog continued through the weekend, as I was trying to figure out how to move forward in this new season of life.

How does a person regroup, “get back in the saddle,” and carry on?  

Since yesterday was MLK Day, I was off work and able to take some time to pray and process.  Here are a couple of lessons God is teaching me that I hope will help you when you’re trying to get back in the saddle and carry on.

First, accept that the “fog” is normal.  You’re not the first person to experience grief or loss, and you won’t be the last.  Breathe deeply, move slowly, and pray frequently.  Take it one day, one hour, and, if needed, one minute at a time.  Though we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), we still grieve.  

Acknowledge that grief comes in waves.  One minute you feel better, the next minute sadness overtakes your heart.  Here’s an action step you can try: When you feel the sadness come, think and pray through it.  Don’t let the sadness overwhelm you, for you know that this, too, shall pass.  Take a moment in the midst of the wave and quote Scripture, such as Psalm 42:5, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Second, get back to a healthy life rhythm.  Don’t deny your grief but push through it into a positive routine.  Eat healthy.  Go to bed at night and get up in the morning around the same time every day.  Practice spiritual disciplines of reading the Bible, praying, meditating on Scripture, journaling, and worshiping.  Exercise daily.  Don’t isolate yourself.  This has been a key in my own “grief recovery” as I deeply miss my dad and as my heart is heavy with my son and daughter-in-law living on the other side of the world.  

Even though Daniel faced many sorrows in life, he still “got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10b).

Wherever you may be on life’s journey—the mountain top or the valley—I hope you will get back in the saddle, knowing that one day you will “rise again to a better life” (Hebrews 11:35).