Embrace Your Tunnel Vision

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Ever feel like you can’t see beyond the end of your nose? Or that you are blinded to everything that goes on around you? That feeling of darkness and isolation can be frightening. When vision is obscured, your impulse may be to stop and shield your heart and head until light peaks through again. The problem with hiding is that we may be missing the very light that is waiting for us far ahead in the distance. Tunnel vision can strike and deem us incapable of movement. However, I would like to present the possibility that tunnel vision does not have to be a disability in grief. Instead, I suggest you embrace your tunnel vision.

Looking up the definition for this malady, I found the following: medical : a condition in which you can see things that are straight ahead of you but not to the side; a tendency to think only about one thing and to ignore everything else. (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary)

Upon reading this definition, I decided I wanted to have a form of tunnel vision as I journey through my grief. Not the type of tunnel vision that renders you useless and scared. I seek the type of tunnel vision that keeps you focused and moving forward, successfully working your way through the grief journey. As you embrace your tunnel vision, here are a couple of advantages you may find.

Healthy tunnel vision can help propel you forward along your journey, where you find yourself closer to the end than the beginning. Knowing your purpose and what you desire can help you arrive at that destination sooner rather than later. Embracing instead of avoiding will drive you further along on your journey.

Another advantage you gain when you embrace your tunnel vision is the realization that you do not have to wait until “the end” of grief to feel joy. While the grief journey will not really end to the point that things will return the way they once had been, you will arrive to a point in time when the struggle is lessened and your smiles occur more often. However, how sad if you believe that you cannot feel joy now, in the midst of grief. Allow yourself permission to smile at the little pleasures along the way as you keep your eyes focused on the light at the end of your tunnel.

Even if that light periodically blinks and seems to disappear for a while, keep looking! The tunnel of loss does have light for you to find and you can arrive on the other side of grief having learned to function and enjoy life again because you chose to embrace your tunnel vision.

I truly struggle at times to choose what picture to place with my posts. I have chosen this picture because I believe it shows me choosing joy, and being silly, as I embrace my journey. I hope it is evidence that tunnel vision does not have to be harmful – it can be functional and play a huge part in handling grief.

Until next time –

Karen

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Get your copy of Grief Letters today! Someone you know needs the encouragement it offers to those who are navigating the loss of a loved one. Available from WestBow Press at:

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A Dark Place

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Have you ever been stuck in the dark? Imagine a place so black that it is impossible to see your hand in front of your face. When the boys were young, we took them to explore an old mining shaft. The elevator we entered was small. As we descended, we could feel the dampness creep in around us. It became a dark place as we approached our destination in the cavern below. Gratefully, upon disembarking from our elevator car, we encountered the lights strewn about inside the tunnels, illuminating the path we were to follow. That kind of darkness is one without visual light.

There is another type of darkness as well. This kind dampens our spirits, steals our joy, and allows fear of the unknown to invade our daily lives. Meet the darkness that accompanies grief.

The darkness of death and loss comes in many forms. One is through the numerous questions and uncertainties which bombard our daily lives. What will tomorrow hold? How will we manage without them by our side? Who can I turn to for help? Will the bills get paid? As the questions race through our thoughts, the darkness moves in, squeezing out the light of certainty.

Fortunately, we do not have to dwell within this darkness. We can make the choice to believe there are brighter days coming. While we may not be as certain of things as we had been in the past, there is a way of seeing light while passing through a dark place.

Having faith can make a difference in how the world looks to you. Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness. It is knowing that even though the future seems obscured and unsure, you can move forward into it, trusting while moving through your days. Be careful in what and whom you place your trust though. Putting that faith in yourself or others will land you on less than solid ground. While people may have the best of intentions, remember that no one is infallible. Mistakes will happen, feelings will get hurt, and you will find yourself faltering in your journey.

Securing your faith in God is the sure way of having your path clarified and your questions answered. Perhaps these things won’t happen immediately, but speaking from experience, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know because I can see it now. That is why I chose a picture of light for this posting. We all see enough darkness walking through grief. I prefer gazing at and enjoying the light!

The beginning of a grief journey is a dark place. It does not have to stay that way though. Be aware that even when you have traveled forward a while, the darkness can seep back in, taking us by surprise and beating down the faith to which we have been clinging. Fight back! Do not allow the darkness to set up house again. Dig down deep and find your faith that will bring forth light.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope [faith] in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11 (New International Version)

Until next time –

Karen

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Do you want more information on fighting the darkness of grief? Grief Letters can help!

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Author/Default.aspx?BookworksSId=SKU-000980156

A Lantern for the Storm

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As a teenager, I did a lot of babysitting. One family in particular holds a place in my memory – though not for the reasons you might think. While I only sat for them one time, the impression of that experience gives me food for thought today.

Their home was only a few miles from ours and was an old farmhouse with high ceilings, wood floors, original light features and switches – very authentic with a few modern conveniences.

The night I went over to watch their girls was a stormy one. In fact, on his way out the door, their dad gave me final instructions to light the kerosene lantern in case the electricity went out since they had no flashlights. As the girls and I settled into having fun, I did not think much of those parting words. Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to thunderstorms and rain.

After playing for several hours, the girls went to bed with no problem. However, it was not long before another wave of the storm moved in, causing the wind to blow, apparently bringing down power lines and, yes, you guessed it – leaving us in the dark. The girls awoke with the storm noise and began screaming and crying. I brought them into the living room and lit the kerosene lantern as I had been instructed. I had never burned one before and was grateful their dad had taken the time to show me how to lift the glass to light the wick.

The parents arrived home a couple of hours later to find their girls back in bed and me seated in the dark with the one lantern burning. You may be wondering why I remember this experience so clearly. Well, as the mother walked into the house, she immediately began yelling at me, accusing me of ruining her house. Apparently as the lantern burned, black smoke rose to mark her ceiling with soot. I did not realize that would happen. I was simply following the instructions her husband had given me hours before.

You may be wondering why I chose to write of this not-so-pleasant experience today. Lanterns have recently been an object of study as I read through part of Exodus in the Bible this week. I found it interesting to realize the different between lanterns and candles. Candles burn off of themselves, using up their own wax to produce the light, eventually burning out as the wax is depleted. Lanterns, however, burn off a fuel. As that fuel is replenished, the light need never be extinguished, thus providing a continual source of light.

Walking through grief can feel like trudging through a storm. As you and I work to maneuver our way, we require a light to guide us. The path we walk is often dark, frightening and unfamiliar. Without some sort of illumination, we can fail to move forward in our journey. While it is possible to move in the dark, we tend to run into walls and dead-ends, causing unnecessary pain and harm. Your grief is already painful. Adding to your hurt can be prevented by seeking a trusted light source.

As we move forward living with loss, we need to have confidence that our path will remain lit. This means fuel is required for the journey. If we walk solely in our own strength, resembling the candle using its own wax, we will eventually tire and lose our light. However, if we allow God to supply the fuel for light, we can see the path lit by the  lantern that never stops burning. Trust that God will meet your needs. Accept His fuel for your journey. Discover the burning power in reading the Bible, praying and listening to good, solid teaching.

As you journey through your grief, allow God to fuel you. A lantern-lit path will be far better than one destined to end in darkness by candlelight.

Until next time –

Karen

 

“Light” in our Darkness

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As a child, I was afraid of the dark. Leaving a nightlight or the hall light on was how I preferred to sleep. Perhaps you have felt the same way at some point in your own life.

Since growing up, though, the dark doesn’t bother me as much. I can now sleep without a light on in the room or even in the hallway. In fact, I actually sleep better without the glare of light hitting me or reflecting around the room at all. Then why do I still face restless, sleepless nights at times? Why am I bothered and find myself so resistant to sleep  when I feel “darkness” in my journey?

This kind of “darkness” is different from just the absence of light. It is experiencing the absence of someone; feeling alone and abandoned. Isolation is such a difficult part of this grief journey. Even when we are in a room full of people, we can feel lonely. To the average person who has not experienced the loss of a close loved one, that type of loneliness may seem foreign. But to those of us who are navigating the road of loss, it is all too real and occurs way too often.

Tonight though, God revealed a new perspective on darkness through my reading and hearing Beth Moore suggest a new point in her A Woman’s Heart study, Session 3 DVD. In this section of the study we find that Moses had requested to see God’s glory; the very goodness of God that sets Him apart from His creation and everything known to man.

God grants Moses his request explaining what He would do to fulfill it. “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:22, 23 NIV)

It was then suggested that perhaps the “darkness” we experience around us is not the absence of God’s presence in our lives. Perhaps it is merely a season where God has placed us in a cleft in the rock and has covered us for a while with His hand. It is dark there. We cannot see what lies ahead. We only know the past. Reliving that past can be difficult, long and frightening.

But, this season of darkness will not last forever, even though right now we fear it will. No, God has plans for us. And those plans include light, knowledge, and freedom from pain. We just need to have the faith and fortitude to wait on Him. Not an easy task, but one that is attainable because we do not have to do it alone. So as we sit in that cleft and see darkness, instead of feeling isolated and alone, let us imagine being sheltered, protected, and cared for. God realizes we can only handle so much pain along the journey of loss and grief. Allow His strong, good hand to relieve some of that hurt and let us strive to rest and find safety in the darkness He provides. He truly is the “light” in our darkness.

Until next time –

Karen