Last week I mentioned my own journey with grief, four years down the road. And while pondering my own journey and what I’ve learned in the process, I’ve also been thinking about my precious Mother-in-Love, back in our beloved South Africa, grieving the loss of my second “Dad,” her wonderful husband, after nearly 50 years of marriage. He would’ve turned 78 today. A friend of mine lost her Mom very recently, another lost her elderly father two weeks ago.

So basically, if there’s a list with the names of people who are grieving, let’s just say I’d be an idiot if I thought I was the only name on it.

This week I sat still for a while beside my Cowboy Gentleman Hero Hubs, and just stared and thought about his grief, his mother’s grief, my friend’s, my own — and it struck me that this one simple thing is at the root of everything that’s hard about the human experience:


Losing a loved one means change. Life changes. They are no longer here, and try as you may to make things the same, it’s just impossible. Things will never be the same. A different life is ahead of you and you don’t know yet what it’s going to look like. Whether it’s a spouse or a parent or a friend you’ve lost — somehow life is going to be different tomorrow from how you thought yesterday. And what you most desperately want is for someone to tell you it is still going to be good — it can somehow be okay.

Change is hard. What are we supposed to do about it?

And it doesn’t take death to bring change to our lives. A friend texts… Her daughter is grieving the big move they recently made. Her old friends are far away, and she hasn’t found new ones yet. She is struggling. Change is hard.

Even good things can be daunting because of change. I remember so vividly the fear I had about graduating high school. It was exciting that those years and years of school finally brought me to the place where I could walk away with a diploma, but what was life in the next season going to look like? Was it going to be okay? Living in a new town away from home? I was scared.

Change is hard. What are we supposed to do about it?

As I scribbled these thoughts down, trying to put words to a swirl of impressions, I realized all the beginnings — bringing a baby home, starting a new job, and all the endings — burying a parent, ending a relationship — they all have this common denominator that makes them feel like a sucker punch to the soul.

Tomorrow will be different from yesterday. Very different. And you don’t know how.

Think about the most hectic, high-stress environments in the world. War-torn countries where a building is there one day and it’s bombed and gone the next. A person is alive today and unexpectedly gone tomorrow. Change is at the center of it.

Consider the fast-paced environment of the Emergency Room. People are coming in quickly, people are exiting quickly, some will leave alive, others aren’t going to make it.

And conversely, what are some of the most peaceful (man-made) places in the world? What do we create for our children at pre-school? We create a place where they will get to do the same things each day or week. They will come to expect a routine and feel comfortable with it. They will typically not be as peaceful on days where the routine is changed.

Routine can be comforting. Knowing what to expect can be warmth to the soul.

To some degree, we all feel a sense of peace and comfort in the consistencies of our day-to-day lives. We want to know there will be food tomorrow. We want to know there will be a useful employment for our time tomorrow. We are unsettled when this is not the case.

But change is in the very fabric of our being. Our cells are dividing and our blood is pumping and oxygen and water levels are fluctuating and a couple of thousand dead skin cells are being shed every single second. In small, consistent ways, everything is changing. Including us.

If it’s in our nature to crave consistency and peace, how do we survive in a world where — whatever it is — it is always going to change sooner or later?

I just finished reading through the portions of Scripture that recount       the life of David. From I Samuel to II Samuel, and finally I Kings, the Bible walks you through year after year in the life of this creative, warrior, Psalmist, king — so flawed and full of shortcomings, and still so brave and full of goodness.

I arrived at his last words, and still a few more scenes of decisions (some regrettable, like the census) and glorious moments unfold in those last days. The story continues in 1 Kings with Adonijah (one of David’s sons) presuming to be king, and David specifically placing his son Solomon on the throne instead. And I paused to reflect:

Where is the part where David had peace and ruled and was like that sheep in the green pastures by the still waters?

Where is the part where they say “And he ruled peacefully and stuff was really happy until he rested with his fathers and was buried…”

But that part’s just not in there.

So I started to wonder — how did David feel so inspired, and able to write:

For You have made him most blessed forever;
You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
And through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved. {Psalm 21:6-7}

Basically it seems to boil down to this one word — one simple, five-letter word that gets you from freaking out to feeling okay…


What’s the only real answer for all the change life can throw your way?

Mother Teresa put it this way…

“I am ready to accept whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.”*

How do we trust the process? How do we trust that it’s going to be okay when we don’t know yet if it actually will?

How in the world do we accept everything He gives, and commit our hearts to actually giving everything He takes?

Where in the world do we find inside our fragile selves the space for that scary five-letter-word, trust? Especially in a world where every day is different from the day before?

Turns out we find trust when we find the God we’re trusting in.

More thoughts on that tomorrow…