"More than anything else, I'm sorry for myself, for living without you." That line from a John Denver song was running through my head, and it made me stop and think. Am I descending into self-pity?
There are so many resources on grief, and yet, though I have to admit to only scanning the many resources I've received, not one seems to address the character issues that might be associated with it. "Anything's fine" when it comes to grieving, it seems.
I suppose that's a compassionate stance- no one would want to tell someone struggling with a great loss how to "properly" deal with it. Maybe, though, it neglects some of the needs of the moment. After all, if the purpose of suffering is to turn us into more godly people, then there must be something we can do in the midst of it to aid that process. Not everyone who is faced with great difficulty becomes a better person. Some people are broken beyond repair. Many make foolish decisions. Others turn against the Lord. The "testing of your faith" (James 1:3) only produces endurance if we pass the test.
So what determines the line between mourning- a good and biblically-sanctioned activity- and wallowing in self-pity? Perhaps that's why it's a topic people shy away from- it's difficult to define. It's probably something only the Holy Spirit can truly determine. Each person grieves so differently, that there are no "rules" to govern the process.
I think it must have something to do with the focus of the mind. When my thoughts to turn to "self," I'm immediately in a dangerous place. The mind set on the flesh is death. It takes away my strength and my ability to serve others. It robs me of peace, and it certainly doesn't honor Bryan's memory.
The key must somehow be found in the mind set on the spirit which gives life and peace. (Romans 8:6) I have to take every thought captive, particularly during the moments of extreme sadness, and make them obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) Are these thoughts part of the healing process, or are they leading me down a destructive path of self-pity and bitterness?
I need to model the godly process of mourning for my little people. The path is dark, and we are all going to stumble quite a bit along the way. We each need to discover how to get through this valley and emerge on the other side- every valley has an end- more than conquerors.