The first letter dad wrote to me was October 1, 1998 at least the one I was able to locate this holiday season. My dad always wrote letters to encourage us towards our dreams and goals particularly when he had to travel to Sierra Leone for work and family business in the late 90s when we had just moved to the US. I always looked forward to opening those blue Par Avion envelopes and he always started the salutation of those letters with my dear daughter. He always wanted the best for us and always communicated that in his letters. They motivated most of my academic, career and life successes up until now. I think a lot about my father during the holiday season. It has been almost 16 years since his passing and grief still shows up at times. Losing him was the greatest loss I experienced. There is something so intangible and strange about grief, its hard to explain to others how one generally feels and it doesn't have an end season.Some of you reading this some of this may resonate with. Whether it's a loss of someone who has passed away, or an estranged relationship, grief can be very difficult to maneuver. It can show up in different waves and over the years I have had days where I generally push through by pretending it doesn't exist, or occupy my time with things to distract me. These are all coping mechanisms and there is nothing necessarily wrong with them. Some years I have scheduled therapy/counseling appointments around the holiday seasons just to ensure I have additional space to process what was happening.
Lately, I find myself even deeply appreciative of the time that God gave me to spend with my Father. In this season of Christmas, I wanted to just be still and have some alone time journaling, and in close community whilst I reflected on my grief. I am reminded of Jesus speaking with Martha and re-shifting her focus because she was distracted by so many things and He needed her to do one thing which was to sit at his feet(Luke 10:38-42). You see it's not that what Martha was doing was the wrong thing, it just wasn't what Jesus needed of her in that moment. I wonder what it would be like if in our deepest moments of grief during the holidays we choose to grieve at His feet, talk to Him about the pain we are feeling and allow Jesus to minister to us. That we don't have to have it all figured out or even have an agenda of how we plan to grieve that day like Martha having all these tasks, but just allowing ourselves to be still and spend some quiet time talking with Jesus.
After all it was the same Jesus who even when it was not His set time turned water into wine at the wedding of Cana John 2:1-12. So even in these moments, where perhaps the entire world around us may have perceivably so much joy and our worlds may not look like what the noise or joy looks like whether or social media or physically around us, or the several distractions that the holiday season sometimes bring; perhaps tuning out the noise and sitting at Jesus' feet is all we need to do. Perhaps tuning out the noise and asking Jesus to step into our situations just as He did at the wedding at Cana is the new perspective we need in our seasons of grief.
So this holiday I decided to think about my grief through a lens of gratitude. How did I get this perspective? By spending alone time at the foot of Jesus and talking to him about how I felt. I find myself even when I have my moments of sadness asking the Lord Jesus what to do and how should I respond to how I am feeling. So this year even through the moments and bouts of deep grief, I have found comfort in gratitude in the things my father taught me to do, the ways he was such a cheer leader to me, and all the insights I learnt from him in business, and some of the unlearning as well. So reading his letters now I hear him saying these words to me and I am thankful I still have these words written somewhere to remind me of who he was and how he saw me as his dear daughter.
I may not know what type of grief of loss some of you may have suffered this year or in previous years, yet I pray you receive comfort and peace during such a time, and give yourself permission to focus on the one needful thing, sitting still and at the feet of Jesus. May you find the peace, comfort in this season and may the Lord give you a new and better perspective on your grief, just as He gave new and better wine at the wedding at Cana. God bless you and I wish you a blessed Christmas season. May we fix our eyes on Jesus in all things. I love you deeply and God bless you for reading.
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