Tag Archive | loving God throughout loss

Relief From Grief

Throughout my grief journeys, I’ve always purposely ensured I take the time to care for myself – spirit, mind, heart, body, and soul.

I also have trained myself to continue pursuing my hobbies and interests during these tough times (even if I don’t feel up to it) because they offer a way to blow off steam, relax, or create enjoyment … which is so very needed during times of grief.

I call these times, “My relief from grief.”

Some of my favorite things to do are: spend time with God, my loved ones, and our family’s dogs, take time for self improvement (read, reflect, plan / implement self-improvement, journal), watch a good movie, go get a great cup of coffee, sit by the fire and listen to some good acoustic music, go lift weights, do tae kwon do, go on a run, listen to my favorite music playlists, cook/bake, and go to the shooting range to shoot guns. All of these have the ability to improve my mood greatly!

During a few grief experiences, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Life and grief had knocked me down…and I initially just felt like tapping out and doing absolutely nothing.

After awhile though, I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I’ve always thought of life as the greatest gift and best adventure. I didn’t want to waste the precious gift of life, the time I could be spending with my remaining loved ones, or the time I have here on earth.

I knew I had to embrace my grief and find a new strength so I’d have the ability to grow through my heartache and eventually press forward.

It’s painful pressing forward and creating a new normal. As you do so, you realize you’re taking steps forward away from the previous pre-grief life you once knew and lived. With each new memory made, you know that your loved one wasn’t there to be a part of the memory. It feels wrong.

I didn’t like the feeling of embracing my grief and eventually pressing forward at all … but I also knew I was hideously miserable staying stagnant. I also knew my loved ones loved seeing my smile and joy while they were here on earth – just as much as I loved seeing their smiles and joy while they were here with me– and I know they’d never want me to stay continually or permanently depressed.

So I chose to get up.

I remember someone telling me, “Every day you wake up, immediately make your bed and go wash your kitchen sink.”

I thought this advice was odd, but I committed to doing those two things.

The first day I cleaned my sink, I could’ve probably cleaned the sink with just my tears. They were heavily dripping from my face.

Then as the days went by, I found myself crying less, and I felt much stronger. It’s ridiculous, but doing those two small things really made a big difference.

Seeing how much relief simply making a bed and cleaning a sink created, I decided to do more activities…even though my emotions weren’t into it.

When you go through a tough grief experience, it’s truly like you’ve been born into a new life…and you have to learn how to navigate everything around you all over again.

You navigate through the tough terrain of raw, unpredictable emotions…through the toughest days of your life…through the times you literally feel as though you can’t breathe…to learning how to live without the loved one(s) that you absolutely adored, loved, cherished, treasured, and enjoyed. You navigate through the sinking quicksand of all of the dreaded “firsts” too: the birthdays (theirs and yours), the holidays, special occasions, important events, anniversaries, vacations, and the incredibly dreaded anniversary of the death date.

It’s a true suckfest.

But then you start to realize that you don’t have to permanently say, “goodbye”…you have the choice to instead say, “I’ll see you later.”

You can find relief from your grief not just by merely investing in your own hobbies, but you can incorporate their favorite hobbies and enjoy doing some of their favorite activities in their memory and honor, too.

You also find that you don’t have to be sad when you talk about your loved one…you can fondly remember – and even smile, find joy, and laugh about– all of the fantastic, fun, and heartfelt memories you will forever hold in your heart!

Ultimately, I know my loved ones greatest wish for me (as well as their wish for all of their other loved ones) is the exact same thing I’d want for my loved ones when my time comes: they want for each of us to be happy, healthy, inspired, and whole.

And a part of feeling happy, healthy, inspired, and whole is finding activities that bring much needed relief from grief.

What activities and hobbies bring – or previously brought – your heart joy?

Which activities or hobbies of your treasured loved one would you enjoy doing in their honor and memory? What activity do you think they’d recommend you do?

What ways can you find relief from your grief this week?

Each week (or month), set aside four special appointments/times: one to do something special with just God…one for just you to do a hobby you love…one to do an activity in your loved one’s honor…and one to do something special with your remaining loved ones.

Obviously, grief will still be present as you do these activities, but as I started to do these activities, I imagined my grief was a ball. I’d set the “ball” down before I left to go invest in these four specific appointments, knowing I’d pick the ball back up once I returned.

Finding relief from your grief can truly be one of the very best gifts of strength you can give to yourself during tough times.

I know it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve given to myself during my times of grief!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

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When God Doesn’t Give You Your Fairytale

We all have fairytales we’ve built up in our minds. Those great kingdoms we so greatly desire and hold deep inside our hearts.

Some may have desired to get their college degree, find the right person, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.

Some may have desired for their kiddos to grow up, have their own children, and all of them love and serve God.

Some may have dreamed about developing their talents, passions, and abilities, and boldly create a satisfying career.

Some may have dreamed about moving away or traveling abroad, seeing and experiencing as much of life as possible.

Some may have wanted a certain relationship, dream, or goal to happen in their life.

Some might have pursued health and wellness to the fullest.

There are many desires, fairytales, and kingdoms we would’ve chosen if we could have been in total control…but the truth is, “life” happens.

Relationships end. Financial and marital issues are far too real. Illness and disabilities happen. People fail us…and we fail them. Plans we make crash and burn. Fairytales we’ve created in our hearts crumble and are compromised or destroyed…by others, ourselves, or “life.”

This past year may have been a real challenge for you…maybe the last decade, or your whole life has been difficult. Perhaps you have seen the fairytale you greatly desired fade right out of sight.

Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or you’ve watched people you dearly love go through grief, illness, or trauma. Perhaps you were given a terrible diagnosis. Maybe you’ve watched someone you deeply love walk away. You might’ve watched your marriage or family crumble…or a family member turn away from God. Maybe you’ve seen the desires you once held dear be sifted and slip through your fingers.

Something God has been showing me the last few years is to persevere … To love Him no matter what. To place my “fairytales” in His super caring – and capable – hands. This isn’t always easy; in fact, it’s much easier said than done – especially when you’re going through major grief or trials.

My frustrations, disappointments, and heartaches have taught me many important life lessons. These lessons have come at a high price, but I couldn’t have learned them any other way.

Although hurts, frustrations, and disappointments can come from multiple sources, some originate from an unexpected source: ourselves. We want to play God. We think we know best and try to force the “glass slippers” in our life to fit. We will wiggle, stretch, or try to broaden or shrink our feet (life) to make our plans and desires fit God’s plans. God has a better plan, but we want what we want.

God asks us to close the door on something, and if we refuse, He closes it for us. We then become upset. Instead of seeking to find the right “doors” He wants us to find and enter…we instead stay stagnant at a closed door, resenting Him for not answering our prayers – and we desperately try to “pick the lock” of the closed door. Oh, how we cry at the shut doors and become upset with God for not doing things our way – and for not giving us the “happily ever after” we envisioned.

As I was talking to God about this very thing a few years ago, I felt as though He was saying, “I don’t always allow the glass slipper to fit in the way you so desperately want to wear it. I know you want it to fit, but I love you enough to take that glass slipper away from you, place it behind a closed door, and lock the door because in My higher wisdom, I can clearly see how that glass slipper will eventually shatter…and then you would be stuck with broken, shattered slippers that would forever cut you the rest of your life.”

Sometimes, God protects us from the fairytales He knows will end badly; other times, I have found (particularly in times of deep rebellion or extended disobedience), God will allow us to make those ill-fitting glass slippers to fit. Sometimes, we need a painful reminder to not make the same unwise choices again.

God knows what is best – whether we like it or not. He is God and we are not. He is all knowing…our vision is so very limited. He doesn’t owe us our fairytale or our “happily ever after”…if we were to look at all of the good in our lives and every blessing, it’s astonishing how good He truly is to us. Even when bad things happen…He may be mercifully preventing something far worse from happening in the future.

If God closes a door or removes a glass slipper in your life, press forward, seek Him with all of your heart, and see what He has in store for you.

Many problems are born out of not viewing life or eternity correctly. We faultily believe life is about our comfort and blessings here on earth…and we fail to see that life is ultimately a training ground to prepare us for Heaven.

Everything we experience or go through in life – all of it (the good and the bad) – has great value and purpose. Every joy, every success, and even every heartache, disappointment, and failure brings us closer to God’s heart as these precious life experiences prepare us for Heaven. Nothing is ever wasted when we give it (and continue to give it back) to God. We can waste or take for granted the lessons God offers us, but each has a specific purpose.

Our minds cannot possibly wrap around or understand God’s plans, thoughts, or ways…and some of them may even seem incredibly cruel.

Being told you or a loved one have cancer (or another major health issue) is devastating. Going through relationship, marriage, or family difficulties…or other hardships in life, again, totally stinks. It tempts us to think that God doesn’t care or that He somehow dropped the ball. But the fact is, God cares more than we can ever begin to fathom or imagine.

God loves us, and if we could see the overall picture that He is painting in our life and our loved ones’ lives, we’d totally be ashamed of any time we’ve doubted Him, His Word, His promises, or His goodness.

I’m just like everyone else…there are things in life I deeply struggle with and don’t understand. I don’t have everything figured out…and there are situations I sure do wish God would heal, repair, give justice in, or fix. There are some things I’ll never understand or agree with…not in a billion years.

We are fortunate God is so patient with us. He allows the questions throughout our deepest heart’s grief. He shows up. He cares.

We don’t know what Heaven will ultimately be like, but God is a great God of purpose, order, goodness, and creativity. This I know to be true.

As we go through the death of a fairytale or the death of a great desire of our heart, it is so vital to remember that God promises He will be making up for all of the bad we suffer and go through on earth (Joel 2:25-32; Revelation 21:3-5; Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Acts 3:19-21; Psalm 51; Job 42:10-17; Jeremiah 33; and so many other verses that share of God’s healing, blessings, and restoration).

When we faultily believe that life is primarily about our happiness…without caring about the incredible holy work God wants to perfect in our heart…we shortchange ourselves and those around us.

Don’t get me wrong. God loves to give us the desires of our hearts…He loves to see joy and happiness in our lives — He truly does. But when we have a specific purpose that God has in store for us (or our loved ones)…and then we rebel or refuse to obey God or fail to make His purpose and plans our first priority – above our desires and “fairytales” – then why are we surprised when life becomes stressful, difficult, and chaotic?

I love the quote by Lecrae: “You can live like there’s no tomorrow…but tomorrow always shows up full of consequences.” The same is true: God gives us free will to disobey, reject, and rebel against God when our fairytales crumble, but the consequences of these decisions will eventually catch up to us.

I’ve seen a lot of my fairytales end up in flames. Sometimes, “life” just happened – I didn’t do anything wrong and it was totally unfair. Other times, if I’m truly honest with myself, I can trace my heartaches and disappointments in life back to times when I disobeyed God or didn’t submit to Him. The consequences may not have shown up until years later, but in my heart, I know where the pain truly originated from.

When it comes to our life, our castles, kingdoms, and fairytales, they must fall so that God’s perfect plans can be rightfully built in their place instead.

Instead of us making ourselves the kings and queens of our own lives (which is ridiculously easy to do…knowingly and unknowingly), we need to exalt the King of Kings over every facet of our lives instead. When we truly do this, God gives us the desires of our hearts. The difference is He takes away the glass slippers (desires) that could cut us deeply, and instead gives us a fresh new pair of sturdy, unbreakable glass slippers that are custom designed, the correct size, and a joy to wear…no pain or hardship is attached to them. If we do go through hardships down the road, the slippers will hold us up because we will be walking in God’s perfect, purpose-filled, peaceful will.

You may be in the worst chapter of your life right now, but with God, your life story is far from over. Give God the “pen” of your life’s book and ask Him to write the remaining chapters of your life.

What if you’ve already quit on God? It’s not too late! Just the fact that you’re reading this is proof that God has amazing plans for your life! Simply ask God to forgive you and tell Him you want HIS plans and purpose to prevail from this moment forward. Ask Him to guide and direct you.

Your very best days may not have even happened yet. We need to fully trust God to write our life stories. It will be far better than any fairytale we could ever write ourselves. Yes, we will still go through grief, hardships, and difficulties, but they will not be in vain.

What could God truly accomplish if we were to trade in our glass slippers and fairytales for His perfect will? God wants so much for us to trust Him, obey Him, and delight in Him.

God created all of His marvelous creation in just one week. Think what our Creator can accomplish in our lives if we were to give up our fairytales, and dedicate the remainder of this year to Him.

When we trade in our fairytales and kingdoms, God always gives us something far greater: He gives us true crowns and grants us a life we will wake up to each day and be truly excited to walk throughout our life with Him!

One day, we will see He is the truest Friend we can ever hope to have. Everything will all make perfect sense.

Today, share your heart, dreams, goals, and plans with God – your most treasured fairytales – and ask Him to accomplish His perfect Will for your life!❤️

He is faithful!

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

❤️

Grief Bites

I previously posted this a few years ago, but thought it’d be a good repost since I am often asked how we came up with the name “Grief Bites” for our ministry. Hope this helps someone!

“Grief Bites.”

Such a simple sentence…yet complex and filled with incredible pain.

My sister called me one morning in 2010 to ask how I was doing.

“Grief Bites” is all I could say through my tears.

Little did I realize how such a little sentence would transform my grief.

That one random phone call, one question, and those two little words – God would eventually develop it into 2 published grief books, a local grief organization, an international grief ministry that would encourage and give hope to people through multiple church campuses, a blog that serves grief communities in 143 countries, as well as five Bible Reading Plans on YouVersion that offer encouragement to millions of people.

The morning my sister called me in 2010, I was in the middle of experiencing a lot of grief. I was sick of grief – and to be honest, I was sick of life.

In the 3 years leading up to that phone call:

  • my son had been diagnosed with tumors and went through several consultations and surgeries in hospitals in two different states
  • 3 of my son’s friends died
  • my grandmother died in a freak accident a few days before Christmas
  • 2 family members died on the same day
  • my marriage crumbled almost to the point of divorce
  • I had a cancer scare that required 2 surgeries
  • my sister’s fiancé died suddenly (this was her 2nd fiancé to pass away..her 1st fiancé died a few weeks before our other sister’s death)
  • we lost our entire retirement savings due to a then trusted person’s foolish decisions
  • many key relationships I dearly loved deeply changed (grief can do that unfortunately)
  • my son’s father died
  • I was diagnosed with a lifelong serious autoimmune illness

I felt incredibly defeated and depressed.

To go through several deaths, my son’s illness, my illness, heartbreaking marriage issues, relationship losses and changes, among other losses within three short years was very challenging…but I knew I wanted good to come out of it. I wasn’t about to allow life or grief to defeat me, and I wasn’t going to sit down and remain a depressed mess. I had already done that when my sister died and that wasn’t going to be my reality again.

It was almost a “saving grace” that I had previously been through grief when I was younger. Grief had been second nature in my life since I was a child. (In hindsight, I’m actually very grateful for the grief I went through while growing up because I don’t think I could’ve made it through my adult grief experiences without knowing what to expect through previous massive heartache).

While growing up:

  • my dad was killed the night before my parents wedding anniversary
  • my favorite grandmother (who lived with us after my dad’s death) died a few years later while having a routine surgery
  • I lost my grandparents (and 2 uncles and an aunt) to cancer
  • a tragic event happened when I was 12 years old, and as a result, I was hospitalized in ICU where I almost died
  • my boyfriend died in a car accident when I was 15 years old
  • one of my best friends died…then a few weeks later…
  • I saw my 22 year old sister die after only being sick for 3 weeks

All of this before I was 20 years old…so I knew what grief could do. I understood the heartbreaking days and nights, as well as how difficult it could be to get through.

BUT 2010 was different.

I didn’t want to just “get through” my grief. This time, I was desperate to understand.

As I already previously did (while growing up), I didn’t want to be forever mad at God and life…I actually needed to deeply and heart-wrenchingly take my tough questions to God so I could come to genuine peace with Him.

I didn’t want to live in the shadow of grief the rest of my life…I wanted to find a new way of life that made sense and had meaning and purpose.

Majority of the grief experiences we go through will never make sense…but I found that purpose and good can come out of any circumstance if you allow life – and yes, even grief – to teach you lessons. They are not fun lessons…but they do have value.

And eventually I learned, (ironically through my grief), that God IS good.

It didn’t magically happen overnight, but God did heal my heart from major grief and heartache.

The reason I share my grief is not to solicit sympathy or pity…absolutely not. It was through everything I went through in the past that made me who I am today. Grief has taught me incredibly powerful lessons that I never could have ever hoped to learn any other way. I’m a much better spouse, mom, family member, friend, and church member due to my grief. It is also through my grief experiences that I found my purpose in life: I get the privilege of helping so many people through their grief so they are able to live better lives.

Although extremely painful to go through, I finally (and through a lot of hard work) came to a place of gratitude and peace with each and every grief experience.

So why blog about it? Why talk about grief? Because grief has a huge need to be more commonly talked about so people can find the hope, encouragement, and relief they so desperately need from grief. And so everyone can understand how to help and minister to those in grief, too. And because grief doesn’t end on the day of the funeral — in fact, grief never goes away. Unfortunately, grief velcroes itself to your heart. It’s. there. for. life. And the greater the love, the greater the grief. Grief typically doesn’t stay as strong as it is in the first few years…but it lingers and can come back full strength at the oddest times.

Some grief experiences are minor, while other grief experiences are majorly debilitating. There is hope for major grief, but it takes a lot of self work and grief recovery to get to that point.

I also talk about grief because there is a great need for grievers to share their experiences to help others who are going through grief. It is also helpful for grievers to help others who have never been through grief to better understand.

Who better to help someone through their grief than a person who has already walked the same thorny road?

This blog is for anyone who has been through grief or loss…anyone who has been through a heart-shattering sleepless night…anyone who has had a broken heart yet still wants to live the best life they possibly can live in spite of any circumstance they face.

I hope something I write encourages someone. I hope it allows someone to obtain the hope they need to move on press forward in spite of the heartbreak they have been through.

Notice that I drew a line through “move on” because anyone who has been through deep grief knows how frustrating that phrase can be.

I say “press forward” because if you are going through intense grief, it has to be a personal choice to press forward with everything you’ve got. I am NOT suggesting forgetting about your treasured loved one(s). In fact, I am a HUGE advocate of honoring a loved one’s memory. I don’t believe in “Goodbye”; I believe in, “See you later!”…I’ll write more about this in the days to come.

By pressing forward after you have thoroughly grieved, you’ll prevent additional loss, guilt, and regrets from entering your life. If you stay still or stagnant in your grief, or ignore it, more loss develops…and then you will have so much more to deal with later on…and grief will have damaged your heart and life further than you wanted it to.

Don’t allow grief to choose for you how you are going to live the remainder of your life. Grief does not deserve to make that decision for you. The only thing you should allow grief to do is teach you lessons…and the lessons are certainly there.

Choose TODAY to embrace and thoroughly go through your grief so you are truly able to create the life you want to live in the years to come.

It will NOT be easy.

There is no such thing as “neatly” grieving or a one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-style of grieving…there are no rainbows, unicorns, or cotton candy in grief recovery. Nope, it is messy. It will most likely be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do…but one day you’ll look back and be so very grateful you worked through your grief and embraced it.

Although grief nearly permanently paralyzed my heart, I eventually decided life is too short to not live to the fullest every single day. Life is too good to not find joy in it…especially the “little things” in life. I realized you only get one life…and you never get time back. Redeem the time and enjoy every moment life has to offer you as much as you can — in time…when you are able to.

I have a motto: Life is a canvas so throw all the paint on it you can so one day you will have the ability to look at the amazing picture you created in spite of heartache and grief. This is the very best way to get back at grief: getting your breath back after life and grief have knocked it out of you.

It will take time and you will know when your heart is ready. It is very helpful to join a grief group and talk to a trusted and respected pastor/counselor too.

Grief bites. It certainly does…but we ALL have the power within us to bite back.

©2014 / 2018 by Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

💕If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

❤️For more encouragement:

💕Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

💕Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

💕Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

Grief: When No Closure Can Be Found

Going through grief is excruciating.

Having to go through a grief experience where there is no ability to have closure is terrible.

There have been grief experiences in my life where the grief had a beginning and an opportunity for closure. Then there were other grief experiences that were like a wild roller coaster ride that had no end. To be honest, I’ve been on two seemingly never ending roller coasters of grief the past 10 years and 3 1/2 years.

I’ve experienced just about every emotion known to mankind. And to be honest, some emotions weren’t the godliest. I’ve had to work through some extremely tough thoughts and emotions.

I’ve struggled and wrestled spiritually with God with many questions:

“Why would you allow this?”

“Why wouldn’t You prevent this?”

“Are You there…and do You truly care?”

“Will you please grant me a brand new season?”

Lots and lots of questions.

Ultimately, God doesn’t owe me answers to any of my questions. God is God…and I am not. He understands the entirety of situations…He knows the good that will eventually come out of the situations (Romans 8:28)…and the purpose for the situations, too. God understands what He is accomplishing through the tough situations and in every heart involved in these tough events.

These situations seemingly have no closure…and no possibility of closure.

One of these situations caused a dearly loved family member to become an atheist and several family members to drop out of church…which created even more heartfelt, agonizing questions from me to God.

I’ve thought about not only these two situations, but all of the situations I’ve experienced in life that I’d label “No closure grief events.” No closure grief events are tough events because it is very difficult to find any closure…the emotions that stem from them can eat you alive. They’re exceptionally tough because it takes a lot of faith to get through them.

Some of the most common No closure grief events are:

  • terminal illness
  • regrets you can’t make right
  • unspoken grief events
  • a devastating diagnosis
  • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who died
  • when someone violates your trust
  • when a loved one attempts or commits suicide
  • when there is a major betrayal in a relationship
  • family, extended family, step-family, marital, or parent/child conflict…or conflict with any of these that began post-grief
  • separation or divorce – especially if it’s not wanted by one spouse
  • adultery
  • abortion
  • church hurt
  • church abuse
  • rejection or abandonment by a family member or loved one
  • situations of abuse – physical, emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual
  • a job issue
  • not getting to say “goodbye” to a loved one who left
  • not getting to confront or make something right with someone who deeply hurt you
  • a situation where justice did not prevail
  • unfair life events
  • when someone mistreats you or lies about you
  • any situation where closure is difficult

So what can you do?

God has been teaching me so much these past few years. I haven’t enjoyed the lessons, but I sure have learned…and applied…some very valuable lessons and truths.

Have there been times I’ve wanted to quit? Oh yeah! Many.

Have I been bitter? For a season, I sure was! Absolutely.

Have I been tempted to be mad at God? Yes.

Have I wanted to speak about the situations and about my thoughts, heart, and opinions publicly? Definitely.

I think anytime you (or a loved one) have experienced a major grief event, especially a No closure grief event…emotions are sure to show up. Some emotions may even surprise you.

When there is no closure, the trick – and what is most needed – is to trust God and not our emotions…to believe God is sovereign in spite of what a situation looks like…to fully fall into God’s arms and realize He truly is good…to know and fully trust that God holds everyone accountable and no one gets away with anything – even if it appears there has been zero conviction or consequences.

Maybe you’re going through a “No closure grief event” right now. Maybe you’ve also pleaded with God for answers through many tears…and have even prayed throughout many months or years. Perhaps you feel like giving up.

I highly encourage you to never give up!

I highly encourage you to never fall away from your relationship with God!

One day, God will give you the gift of closure…the Bible promises it.

God doesn’t mind our questions and pleadings…His heart is big enough to take on our woundedness, sufferings, and hardships…and He truly and genuinely cares about every grief event and situation we go through.

We may not be able to find the closure we need…but God created our hearts – He fully knows and loves us. He will be making every wrong right. The situations we go through do not catch God by surprise. And He will never allow us to go through a situation unless He realizes the situation can be turned into something great. It may not happen overnight…it may even take years…but God can turn your worst events into something of great value.

Our job is to praise God through the storms we face…to deepen and prove our salvation is genuine and real…to love and forgive others…to live in peace…to embrace God, our grief, and our hardships…to learn through everything we face – the good and the bad…to love God with all of our heart and to sincerely rest in Him.

Today, lay down your toughest grief events – every grief experience – at God’s feet. Cast all your burdens and cares onto Him. Tell God you are choosing to trust Him with everything – especially the situations that are breaking your heart! Leave your hurts, heartaches, burdens, situations, disappointments, dreams, goals, emotions, and grief experiences with Him.

When the enemy reminds you of a No closure grief event, immediately take your thoughts and feelings to God! It is imperative that you talk through your feelings with God.

We may not be able to find closure in our present circumstances, but we can find closure through leaving our situations in God’s more than capable hands.

Seek God with all your heart! Pour out your heart to God as you spend time with Him today!

He loves you.

He truly cares.

Entrust your situation with Him and trust His great heart!

Gratitude & blessings,

Kim

©2018 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

The Yo-Yo of Grief & Holidays

Most grievers go through…and understand…the yo-yo cycles of grief.

You dread the holidays…then you desperately want to have the ability to enjoy the holidays…then you agonize about the holidays…then you go through a period of time where you just wish holidays could be normal again…and then you may feel guilty when you do enjoy the holidays…then you feel weird…then come to peace about it…and the grief cycle can spin you again out of nowhere…and so on…and so on…and so on.

The thing about grief: nobody who is going through grief signed up for it.

The harsh emotional turmoil.

The guilt.

The regrets.

The crazy emotions.

Nobody in their right mind would even wish it on their most annoying enemy. I know I wouldn’t.

My holiday yo-yo began several years ago…and I sure have learned a lot about God, grief, life, family, friends, and overcoming grief ever since.

Several years ago, my 22 year old sister died on Thanksgiving Day.

It shouldn’t have happened…she had everything going for her: she was married and she was a mom to three beautiful children who she loved with all of her heart. She adored and enjoyed being a mom so much that she was trying to have another baby. An amazing pianist, she had taken piano lessons at a university since elementary school since no teachers in our area could keep up with her talent. An accomplished baker, she and I had been going to several baking and candy workshops since we were in the process of opening our very own bakery and chocolatier…that way we could always have a flexible schedule and have our kiddos with us. She had everything in the world going for her.

But then she got sick. Really, really sick. Really, really fast.

That Fall, we were all on vacation having the time of our lives…a month later, she began to have allergy-like symptoms, and then within a few weeks of feeling ill, she suddenly and unexpectedly died of Wegener’s Granulomatosis (GPA) – a very rare autoimmune disease that was only named in 1939.

Thanksgiving has never been the same since…and believe me, I have really tried.

I’ve tried vacationing during Thanksgiving to get my mind off of it – to no avail. Then I tried going on a Disney vacation…the happiest place on earth…and during that trip, I had to go to the Urgent Center since I was so sick. In fact, the first several years after my sister’s death, I’d wake up every year around 4am and become violently ill. There has never been a Thanksgiving since that I haven’t gotten sick or felt major anxiety.

The last Thanksgiving morning she was alive, she had her nurse call us around 4am and ask us to immediately come to the hospital to be with her. We threw our clothes on and got there…only to be blocked from seeing her by her medical team.

Then the Code Blue came…and they revived her. And then the final Code Blue came…and she was gone.

I guess my body remembers the 4am time – and that whole morning – because every year since, I have become extremely ill or anxious each Thanksgiving from 4am-10am.

Frustrated by Thanksgiving, I finally found a way to cope. For years, I have put all of my Christmas decorations up by November 1, so I could just go straight into the Christmas season.

I still celebrate Thanksgiving with my family…and I am extremely thankful for God, my family and friends, and all of life’s blessings…but this has helped me to not focus on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Although I am super thankful for life, loved ones, and every blessing God lovingly grants me – and although I put on a happy face for the sake of my remaining loved ones…mostly my sweet mom and the kiddos in my life – I just don’t like Thanksgiving.

In October, and up until this week, I was actually looking forward to Thanksgiving…it’s the very first year that I have actually looked forward to it.

I haven’t put up one Christmas tree, ornament, or decoration yet.

I was still feeling anxiety about Thanksgiving, but I was super grateful for the progress of my grief. And it felt good to not experience the yo-yo of grief the last six weeks – especially from all the years I tried so desperately to run away from the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

I’ve spent many years going back and forth trying to make my heart feel something it just didn’t feel.

I think most grievers understand what I’m talking about…especially if they’ve experienced a holiday death. But it’s not just the death of a loved one…it could also be loss of any kind.

But then this week, all of the feelings of dread are starting to creep back.

So the yo-yo is apparently still strong.

I always try to be very transparent in my grief so I can help and encourage others.

I hope this blog post doesn’t come across as whining. I truly hope it helps someone to know they’re not alone in their grief.

Here’s my advice for getting through the Yo-Yo of grief:

  1. Seek God’s heart. It is truly amazing the amount of comfort and love God will shower onto those who love Him! Making God my closest and most treasured Friend has made all the difference in the world! Even during times when I don’t think a grief situation is fair, He patiently and lovingly always directs me in the right way. I can’t stress this enough…when you feel like you don’t want to trust His plan, always trust His great heart! Fight for your relationship with God…never give up on the true Treasure of His Friendship!
  2. Be true to your grief. Don’t force yourself to feel anything that isn’t authentic. If you feel sad, honor that sadness. If you feel fine, don’t feel guilty for having a good holiday…it doesn’t mean you love someone less. Good days & good holidays are truly a gift…embrace them when they come!
  3. Share with your family and friends where you are at in your grief…and don’t be ashamed of your grief. Don’t assume they should know or that they should instantly understand…take the time to share your heart.
  4. Don’t make family or close friends be mind readers. Tell them what you need so you will have the ability and support you need to get through the day.
  5. Do only what you feel you can truly do. It’s totally okay to have a relaxed holiday. If you’ve lost someone very close to you, it can take awhile to find a “new normal” for life and holidays…and sometimes the “new normal” you found can suddenly change and need readjusting. It’s okay not to always be okay…and that is totally FINE!! Be gentle with your heart!
  6. Light a memory candle in honor of your loved one…or do something special to “include” their memory. I have found that lighting a memory candle is a very special way of including my loved ones – it’s a beautiful way of saying, “I love you…I miss you…I will never forget you…I sure wish you were here!”
  7. NEVER apologize for your grief. If other people are uncomfortable with you honoring your grief or loved one, well tough. Lovingly remind them that you didn’t sign up for your grief experience…you’re doing what you need to do to get through it. So they’re frustrated? Kindly remind them that you’re frustrated too. Losing a loved one is the highest price you pay for loving someone…just because a loved one dies, your love doesn’t die too. People sometimes forget that.❤️
  8. Be careful to not create future guilt or regrets. I love the quote, “Even though I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living purposefully.” I take the time to truly honor my grief, but I also make a very purposeful choice to celebrate and extravagantly love my remaining loved ones. Just like my sister suddenly died, I realize that is a possibility for everyone else I know too…so I make sure not to isolate myself and I choose to make the most of Thanksgiving and other holidays. I’m very authentic about my grief, I honor my grief…but I also honor my loved ones who are here as well.

This Thanksgiving, I am praying for all of the Grief Bites Family! May you highly treasure God, enjoy your remaining loved ones, and honor & remember your treasured loved ones who are no longer on earth.

Wishing all of you a very peaceful, special, joy-filled, and loving Thanksgiving Day!!

Gratitude & many blessings,

Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!For more encouragement: ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

❤️

Conflict Resolution (Pt 3)- 75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~Helen Keller

Grief, conflict, hardships, struggles, and suffering are opportune times to develop personal character because through each of these circumstances, character is revealed…and tested…the most.

The key to changing every aspect of  life…including conflict resolution…is developing solid character because character and success go hand in hand. 

Show me a person who has solid character and I’ll show you someone who handles grief circumstances and conflict wisely, as well as marriage, parenting, career, and relationship issues.

The amount of character one develops in life directly influences how much success they will enjoy…in their spiritual walk, personal life, marriage, family, finances, relationships, career—basically everything!

A lack of character is quite costly because character is a derivative of the heart…and the heart is the single greatest indicator of what we will choose to do with EVERY area of our lives.

 

Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

 

Why is character so vitally important? Because character affects ourselves and everyone we come into contact with. Character is singlehandedly the greatest impact a person can have in this world.

 

The following character list is great to go by when:

  • developing personal character
  • going through grief or hardships
  • experiencing conflict
  • looking for a dating/marriage partner
  • training your children
  • interviewing a potential staff member
  • living life

Whatever conflict you are experiencing right now, consider which character trait has been violated. After discovering which trait has not been honored, you then will be free to begin developing the character trait to bring about restoration.

Ask God to reveal to your heart how to best develop each character trait below. As you read each character trait, ask yourself how you can effectively develop each trait so it can truly become a part of your regular day-to-day life.

 

75 Character Qualities That Can Change Your Life
1. Alertness vs. Unawareness– Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

2. Attentiveness vs. Unconcern Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

3. Availability vs. Self-centeredness– Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of God and those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

4. Boldness vs. Fearfulness– Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

5. Cautiousness vs. Rashness– Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

6. Communication vs. Lacking Communication– Willingly, kindly, and clearly communicating my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and needs with others while allowing them to clearly communicate their needs, ideas, concerns, and thoughts as well (Ephesians 4:25-29)

7. Compassion vs. Indifference (I John 3:17)- Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.

8. Community vs. Isolation– Treating my family the very best I possibly can (realizing God specifically placed them in my life) and also seeking out a great church and wise friends to “do life” with (Hebrews 10:24-25)

9. Contentment vs. Covetousness Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness, and not comparing myself or my life to others (I Timothy 6:8)

10. Cooperation vs. Rebellion Doing my part to harmoniously respect, obey, and cooperate with God,  as well as all the authority figures, law enforcement, and people (spouse, parents, elders, family, employers, church) God has placed in my life, and wisely choosing not to rebel against scripture or legitimate guidelines, laws, rules, and boundaries (Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:1-5, Ephesians 6:1-3)

11. Courage vs. Cowardice– Choosing to face any obstacle in life with courage so as not to run away from hardships or responsibilities (Philippians 4:13)

12. Courtesy vs. Rudeness Extending respect, kindness, and courtesy to everyone I come into contact with–regardless of their behavior (Ephesians 4:32)

13. Creativity vs. Underachievement/Dullness Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)  and considering all of the creative ways to implement a bright outcome

14. Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness- The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

15. Dedication vs. Wavering Establishing a razor sharp focus and dedication in my relationships with God and others, as well as my life purpose, for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17)

16. Deference vs. Rudeness- Limiting my own personal freedom in order to not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21) and showing proper respect and honor to others above my own selfish interests or inclinations

17. Dependability vs. Inconsistency– Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

18. Determination vs. Faintheartedness– Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

19. Diligence vs. Slothfulness Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

20. Discernment vs. Judgment– The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)

21. Discretion vs. Simplemindedness The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

22. Empathy vs. Hard-heartedness/Aloofness Taking the time to genuinely care about others and see things from their perspective by choosing to put myself in their “shoes” and truly taking the time to see how my words and actions could possibly affect them (Colossians 3:12, Romans 12:15)

23. Endurance vs. Giving up The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

24. Enthusiasm/Excellence vs. Apathy– Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16,19) and seeking to live my life and use all of my talents to the best of my ability

25. Faith vs. Presumption- Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

26. Faithfulness vs. Unfaithfulness- Being, and remaining, committed to the people and responsibilities God has entrusted to me and refusing to cheat God, them, or myself out of God’s best (Proverbs 3:3, Luke 16:10)

27. Flexibility vs. Resistance- Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

28.Forgiveness vs. Bitterness/Rejection– Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

29. Generosity/Hospitality vs. Stinginess Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

30. Gentleness vs. Harshness Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

31. Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness– Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

32. Honesty vs. LyingCommitting to live a life of truth by being honest with God, myself, and others, and resisting the temptation to tell outright lies, white lies, or partial truths (1 Peter 3:10, Colossians 3:9)

33. Honor vs. Dishonor- Choosing to live a life of honor by being honorable in all of my thoughts, actions, words, and deeds, and highly honoring those God has placed in my life–especially family (Psalm 1, Colossians 3:17)

34. Hospitality vs. Loneliness Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with family and friends (Hebrews 13:2)

35. Humility vs. Pride Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

36. Humor/Fun vs. Coldness- Choosing to see the goodness, enjoyment, fun, and humor life has to offer with those God has placed in my life in spite of circumstances (Psalm 27:13, Ecclesiastes 3:1-22)

37. Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness– Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

38. Integrity vs. Lack of character- Choosing to live a life of character even when it becomes difficult, realizing that who I am in private reveals my true integrity (Psalm 18:25, Psalm 119:1, Proverbs 2:6-8)

39. Joyfulness vs. Self-pity– The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

40. Justice vs. Fairness– Keeping myself “in check” and committing to living out personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

41. Kindness vs. Harshness– Choosing to be kind in all I do, and maintaining a soft kind heart to others, as well as refusing to be harsh or hardhearted (Luke 6:31, Colossians 3:12-14)

42. Knowledge vs. SimplemindednessMaking the decision to be in awe of God and better myself every single day by learning as much as I can so as to avoid living an unwise simpleminded life (Proverbs 18:15, Proverbs 1:7)

43. Leadership vs. Wavering– Using my leadership wisely by investing in and encouraging those underneath my leadership in every way I can to ensure their success (Titus 1:7-14)

44. Love vs. Selfishness Choosing to love God, and my family and friends extravagantly, and giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

45. Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13) and being loyal to my family and friends

46. Meekness vs. Anger– Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5) and using anger as a signal to warn me of possible self-centeredness

47. Mercy vs. Judgment Choosing to be the mercy and compassion to others today that I would want to receive myself tomorrow (Luke 6:36, Matthew 5:7)

48. Obedience vs. Willfulness Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (II Corinthians 10:5) as well as going out of my way to respect authority

49. Orderliness vs. Disorganization– Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

50. Patience vs. Restlessness– Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

51. Peace vs. Contention/Disharmony– Choosing to honor God by being a peacemaker and creating harmony in difficult relationships and situations (II Timothy 2:24)

52. Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness– Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks without being offensive or disrespectful (II Timothy 2:24)

53. Punctuality vs. Tardiness Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

54. Purpose vs. Lack of Focus- Finding out and fulfilling my life purpose, as well as the purpose for any project I am serving on with others, so as to bring ultimate glory to God in my life (Isaiah 43:7, Psalm 139:13-16, Philippians 2:1-4)

55. Purity of Motives vs. Manipulation– Resisting the urge to manipulate people or situations by continually allowing God to purify and refine my heart and motives to be inline with God’s Word and His Will (Zechariah 13:9, Ephesians 5:26)

56. Resilience vs. Quitting/Cowardice- Developing tenacity and refusing to quit while going through trials or hardships and purposefully seeking out God’s heart so that He can refresh and lift me up in His timing…and realizing God has the power to work everything together for the good of every situation (Joshua 1:9, Romans 8:28)

57. Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

58. Responsibility vs. Unreliability– Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

59. Restoration vs. Incompleteness– Taking upon myself the responsibility to seek out restoration with God, others, and circumstances when I have been offensive or hurtful to others…and while initiating restoration, allowing God to restore me (Jeremiah 17:14, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

60. Reverence vs. Disrespect– Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17–18)

61. Safety vs. Neglectfulness– Taking the time to do my responsibilities the right way and ensuring the safety of others as well as myself (Colossians 3:23)

62. Security vs. Anxiety– Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

63. Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit as well as obeying God’s Word (Galatians 5:24–25)

64. Sensitivity vs. Callousness– Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

65. Servant’s Heart vs. Taking– Looking for ways to serve God, my family, and others (above myself) so that I can fully invest in them, make a positive impact, and benefit their life (Matthew 23:11, 1 Timothy 5:8, Philippians 2:1-11)

66. Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy/Insincerity Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

67. Teamwork vs. Isolated Independence- Choosing to do what is truly best for everybody involved—whether it is at home, church or work—instead of focusing on my own goals, agenda, or myself (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 12)

68. Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness– Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

69. Thriftiness vs. Extravagance– Not allowing myself or others to spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

70. Tolerance vs. Prejudice Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

71. Truthfulness vs. Deception– Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

72. Understanding vs. Lack of Knowledge- Choosing to “seek to understand” people and situations through God’s perspective by searching God’s Word for answers so that I can effectively develop godly knowledge and an understanding heart towards others (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 4:7)

73. Virtue vs. Impurity The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

74. Vision vs. Apathy– The ability to visualize and realize a vision without becoming apathetic while ultimately helping to accomplish God’s plans and purpose (Philippians 3:14)

75. Wisdom vs. Foolishness/Natural Inclinations Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

 

The greater the character, the greater the favor one will enjoy in life.

Make all your ways pleasing to God and He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (AMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on building character, you may wish to check out these resources:

http://www.characterfirst.com/qualities

*Character Qualities: 49 are through IBLP, 26 are my own creation

http://ati.iblp.org/ati/family/curriculum/characterqualities.pdf

10+10=2? 20 Questions To Begin Conflict Resolution (Pt. 1)

Have you ever experienced conflict with a spouse, child, parent, family member, in-law, ex, friend, church staff, church member, or co-worker?

What do you consider the greatest litmus test for the times when you, or those around you, experience conflict?

Do you consider:
How they have personally treated you?
How you have personally seen them treat others?
Their usual character?
Your usual character?
How you have treated them?

The world is rampant with grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and relational hurts.

Grief, loss, disappointment, conflict, betrayal, and ongoing hurt can bring out the absolute worst in people…and we all have the possibility of this due to the hurt, or past hurts, in our lives.

When a person hurts us, or someone we love, most people do one of four things:

1. Get even. They hurt the person back through gossip, manipulation, & reputation ruining.
2. Stuff it down, hidden deep inside, and ignore it. They pretend all is well.
3. Become a doormat and excuse it because they don’t like conflict.
4. Lash out at the other person due to deep hurts and ongoing frustrations.

If we are all honest, we probably have done a few of these things in our lifetime.

But…there is a better way.

We must first consider some important information when going through times of conflict:

  • What if we are hurting ourselves, or our own families, in the midst of the conflicts we face?
  • What if we are contributing to hurting many others in the crossfire of our disagreements…potentially for generations?
  • What if people take up offenses for loved ones, leading to serious discord that keeps on going…and going…and going. At the very least, we’ve all heard mother-in-law jokes…and at the very worst, we’ve all seen political issues and wars in the world that are violently ongoing.
  • What if we harm our own character, reputation, or spiritual witness, or that of our family’s, or that of another person?

Think about it…every conflict we are in doesn’t just affect us.

 

Each and every conflict on earth was started with a little spark that grew into a monumental fire.

How do we personally tend to our “little sparks” before great damage is done?

It is important to understand the truth that we’ve all experienced conflict due to others, as well as of our own making:
1. We’ve all been 100% innocent and on the receiving end of a combative person/situation/issue
…and…
2. We’ve all dished out our share of mistreatment or misinformation onto others
Majority of the time, we are right in the middle of these two extremes…doing both dishing and receiving.

 

Ok, so about that little spark that’s headed towards becoming a wildfire of destruction…

When going through conflict, it can zap us in many ways. The deeper the conflict, and the longer it lasts, the more we probably are tempted to question God why we are having to go through it.

Conflict. is. painful.

Why is conflict so prevalent?

Ultimately, conflict surfaces because it is one of the enemy’s strongest ways of keeping us from achieving what God wants for us and what God truly wants for those around us. Conflict continually keeps hurts and problems stirred up…and sucks up all our energy…which prevents us from FULLY achieving God’s Will and His best for our lives.

If you are going through conflict, the best thing to do is for both parties to self reflect and ask a few questions of themselves:

1. Did I do anything to wrong the person I’m having issues with?
2. Has there been an offense in the past that I haven’t made right? (maybe they’re reacting to a past hurt)
3. How have I contributed to this problem?
4. Have I gossiped or lied about them…or embellished the facts?
5. Have I been spiteful, hateful, unreasonable, or vindictive?
6. Have I tried to discredit them or relayed damaging info or “facts” about them to others, casting them in a bad light, or tried to get others on my side?
7. Is this a sin cycle passed down or learned from my parents (problems with authority figures, in-law issues, conflict stemming from divorce/death, rejecting others, anger, bitterness, “getting even”, rebellion, etc)?
8. Have I had a spirit of “competition” or jealousy where I’m trying to “win” or win my own way, “one up” someone, or gain favor at another person’s expense? (Example: siblings or daughter-in-laws & mother-in-laws)
9. Have I been prideful, unwilling to budge, or unwilling to do my part?
10. Have I taken up an offense for a loved one, without considering the other person’s feelings or their side of the story?

As you read these 10 questions, did you truly self reflect?
If not, take a moment to value and rid yourself of any pride, bitterness, or hurt you are harboring in your heart…free yourself…and go back and re-read the 10 questions of self reflection (focusing on each bolded ‘I‘)…and TRULY self reflect, as you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Then you will be able to free yourself up to make a commitment to do what is honorable in the conflict you are in as much as you are truly able to.
Remember: you’re not only doing this for them…because, let’s face it, if left to us, we aren’t going to be in the mood to self reflect or do a kind favor to anyone who has been hurtful or offensive. We need to remember that we are also choosing to do this to honor God, and for our own peace, sanity, and joy, as well as those around us who are deeply affected by the conflict. Most conflicts affect everyone close to us…they’re usually never just a “2 person” ordeal.

Times of conflict are extremely painful…but they can also be excellent opportunities for personal growth.

Consider the incredible invaluable opportunity you have right in front of you to develop character & humility in your own life to become a stronger, kinder, more richly developed person.
Each person needs to ask their self:

1. What have I personally done to make the situation right?
2. Have I gone to the person to make amends?
3. Have I done, or am I willing to do, the “right thing” as much as is in my power to do so?
4. Have I truly done an inventory of the hurtful or hate-filled words I have spoken (to them, about them, and to others) as well as the hurtful things I have done to them?
5. Have I genuinely considered what I have cost them (relationally, spiritually, reputation, emotionally, monetarily/financially, time-wise, wasted special occasions, etc)
6. Have I been willing to be a peacemaker and actively taken the steps to extend forgiveness, mercy, and grace?
7. Have I put myself in “their shoes” to see how they feel…or how this has affected them?
8. Have I offered a sincere apology or offered to actively make my “wrongs” right? (a hurt or offended person is hard to win over. An apology…and sometimes restitution…is vital. Humbling but it is a must-do)
9. Have I given the person the “benefit of the doubt” and/or tried to understand their intentions behind their actions? (sometimes, not everything is personal)
And most importantly…
10. Have I genuinely prayed about the situation and asked God what to do...am I truly willing to obey God, regardless of how I feel or what I ultimately want?

We live in a broken world, but that doesn’t necessarily give us a “free pass” to go around behaving like broken people. We need to hold ourselves accountable for every word, action, and deed…because we will eventually have to give an account of these to God.  Speaking of God, we have a Helper to make us whole, Who wants to make our offender whole, and to bring healing to any situation…if we want His help. So, if we want God’s help, it is vital to go to Him and His Word for lasting answers.

Although conflict can be incredible uncomfortable to go through, sometimes, conflict can be a catalyst to bring healing into your life, or an offensive person’s life. Sometimes, God wants us to be that person…helping the very person who hurt our heart. It’s EXACTLY what Christ did…and still does…for us.

 

Compassion, empathy, and understanding pave the way…they all are key components to begin the healing that is needed.

Make the decision to start being the compassion & understanding to others TODAY that YOU wish to receive TOMORROW.

Most conflict issues can be resolved when one person stands up, decides to show good character, and becomes the bigger person to make amends.

We are all in this together.
Everybody in the world has been deeply hurt…and everybody in the world has deeply hurt others.

How cool would it be if we all chose to live life on the higher road, making the decision to love God and love others starting right now?

Many problematic conflicts could be completely resolved if we could master in ourselves those 2 important…life-changing…decisions.

Starting today, let’s begin to un-complicate life and choose to pursue healing, spiritual strength, emotional health, kindness, compassion, and genuine love.

It will most likely take time, and getting used to, but it can be worth it!

Conflict resolution comes to life when both parties agree to:

1. Truly love God
2. Genuinely love others

In action.

Because, ultimately, love can truly cover over a multitude of hurts and sin.

Yes, 10+10 can equal 2…when the 2 parties in a conflict ask themselves those important 20 questions to come to a WHOLE resolution.

 

Does this still seem impossible? My next post will be all about how to practically accomplish conflict resolution when you don’t want to through developing character. Stay tuned!

 

Lookup these verses on www.bible.com: 1 Peter 4:8, Ephesians 4:32, James 1:12, Matthew 5:9, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:2-3, James 3:18, Proverbs 13:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ephesians 5:14-17, Matthew 6:14, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 12:33-37, Romans 14:12

 

God has been showing me some pretty cool stuff this week…stuff I definitely will be putting into practice myself! Looking forward to writing more about this! 🙂