Day 21: Self-Acceptance and the Mysteries of Grief

The last few months I have been living the stages of grief, swerving from anger to depression and back again, barely catching my breath. I only momentarily live in the broad open spaces of acceptance before being pulled back into the vortex.  Grieving is exhausting and messy and triggers other places of deep brokenness yelling, “aha, and you thought you were more together, more healed!”


Yesterday I found THIS BOOK and through the lovely, authentic writing of Leanna Tankersley began to remember the deep, velvet gift of self-acceptance. Crazy that last January I would know that self-acceptance would be this year’s key…and crazy that by December and through one more move I would completely forget.



Self-Acceptance is nothing fancy, it’s just finding yourself on an emotional map and looking and saying, “Yup, that’s where I am…and Yup, I’m not sure where to go from here” and then just sitting down in grace.


Sunday I cried through the entire church service like a crazy woman. Andrew had to go in search of tissues I was such a blubbering mess. He came back with 10. I used them all and then left during the exchange of peace to go out in search of more.  Later we escaped through a back door because once again, I couldn’t stop the tears.


Before the escape, I lay my head down in front of a small side altar and just looked at the crucifix there. I gazed at He who gave up and kept giving up until there was nothing left to give up. We stared at each other for a while…and then I kept on weeping.


Today? The opposite. No weeping. Stillness. Even a small lovely ounce of Anticipation. This is the serious crazy of grief, wide pendulum swings of emotion catching you by surprise.


Things I have learned through this season:


1. Grieving is circular. It doesn’t get wrapped up tight in 31 days…or 40 days.  Just the idea that I tried to will myself towards 31 days to rootedness makes me feel nauseated now.


2. Nourishment is essential. I need serious amounts of Jesus to make it through. My sweet priest friend, Carrie Klukas put me onto this one. Sometimes it takes 10 chapters of the Word to come right through the smothering tunnel to the light. Sometimes tapas meals of scripture just doesn’t cut it. There are seasons of malnourishment where we will need long slow feasts.


3. The senses are like a valve for deep emotion to pass through. Music, beauty, art, love-making. They are all triggers.


4. People who haven’t gone through this process of moving, loving and leaving, over and over just plain forget. It’s like the forgetfulness of a young mom who just through labor looks in her husband’s eyes and asks for another one.  My favorite question: “So, how are you getting settled?” I just don’t know what to say.


5. Grieving just means there was something lost which was of great worth. The truth is that I wouldn’t be grieving so deeply if I hadn’t been given the privilege of loving so deeply. When we do the work to move past the masks to the beautiful, soft underneath with people, we fall in love hard.  Hard.  The loss then becomes more of an excruciating tear. Jagged. Nothing clean about it.


But tonight I had to share because for the first time in this crazy ride, I’m realizing that this too is the gift. We give ourselves. We love hard. We choose a wide “yes” over the easy, tightfisted no.


We are ushered into the holy of holies with the image of God written all over the dna of a human being and we are hushed into silence. We take off our shoes and share bits of the real over cheddar biscuits at a table at Red Lobster, over a candle flaming in a small prayer room, over a conference table cluttered with thick binders where together we have been seeking wholeness.


So maybe this season of brokenness is inevitable after imbibing so much joy and knowing that the well…that particular well…can no longer be reached.


And this is perhaps our only taste of the cross following life…of stretching our arms to purposefully love in spite of knowing we are all walking slowly towards another loss.


So, here’s to being truthful with our stuff,

to the unexpected surge of anticipation which trusts that empty arms will someday be filled again,

to self-acceptance being the path to wide open spaces,

…and knowing that through Christ, resurrection always follows the cross.


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  1. My dear Summer, I haven’t forgotten you. You are being held and cherished in my heart. I am sorry you are grieving a loss….yes, grief isn’t as cut and dry as some make it out to be. I too am grieving a loss–loss of a dream and a piece of property that I felt the Lord was giving us to start a retreat house–a place of refuge. Loss is difficult not matter what the loss is. I pray you find peace and wholeness in the arms of Jesus. ((((HUGS))) and love to you. Write to me sometime. Diane

  2. Dearest Summer, God will supply his healing with the balm from Gilead. I went through a year of deep grieving when my husband had a brain tumor removed losing hearing on one side and my brother was murdered and his body not found for a month. That year also my cousin Ted in AZ lost his precious toddler when she drown in his Jacuzzi where there was a little too wide crack in the fence she slipped through. I cam back from that funeral to my brother’s with his 3 children asking what the cardboard box was at the graveside with his ashes. Little Ben released his balloon at the end of the service and said, “Daddy is catching my balloon in heaven!” Ben was only 5. There were deep emotions when the trial came for my brother’s murderer and splits in the family where I lost contact with my brother’s 3 little children. God has been good and I reconnected now 20 years later through Facebook as they had moved to IN and CA. The intense working through so much grief lasted over a year has Larry had 18 mo of pain after his surgery and had to learn balance and walking again as those are affected with acoustic neuromas. The deep experiences helped me to reach out to many who needed caring and understanding at a deep level the challenges they were living through. Without those terrible tragedies, I would have not become the person I am today. God is good, all the time. We just don’t always understand his timing for the evolution of our life as we pass through shadow of death into the light of his deep abiding love.

  3. I want to flag this and keep it and read it over and over. So much beautiful, hard-earned wisdom here. Especially #5. I feel the truth of that one deeply. Oh, my friend. Keep sowing these tears. There is a harvest of joy to come, I am sure.

  4. Summer,
    As I read your journey through salty tears of my own
    remembering, I want your hurt..want to tear it away and out from…but I remember how God shaved my own soul and reformed it with pain. And I know it is good, and that your very mission of healing will be enhanced.
    You struggle so well! Jesus must love you SO very much.
    Linda Andersen

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