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"Let My Grief Be Mine Alone"

In Evidence Not Seen, Darlene Deibler Rose tells the story of how her relationship with the Lord sustained her through various trials in a Japanese prison camp in New Guinea during World War II. 

While forced to work for the Japanese, she learns that her husband, who was at a men's camp, has taken ill and died. When she first hears of this, she does not openly grieve. The morale of the camp is so low that she doesn't want to exude a heavy heart and further dampen everyone's spirits.

The other women in her camp acknowledge her loss with a few comforting words and hand presses. Later, when she is alone, she weeps and mourns. And after the war, she visits his grave and participates in a memorial service for him. 

When she first hears of her husband's death, she prays this prayer:

"Let my grief be mine alone. Anoint my countenance with the oil of joy, that none may ever feel embarrassed to laugh in my presence. May no joke or sharing of the ridiculous be stifled because I am there. Wrap me in the garment of praise, that I may not burden others with the heaviness of my grief." (Rose, 112)

I am in awe of the selflessness this demonstrates. How unusual for anyone to be thinking about others when grieving! Other people's feelings are certainly not my first, second, or third priority in the midst of grief. In fact, I recall being horribly offended at some people's attempts to comfort me after my miscarriages. Their words didn't sound right in my ears, and I was angry regardless of their intentions. 

My tendency when wounded is to believe that others ought to mind me, not the other way around. It is the same when I'm afraid. At the start of Covid-19, Philip and I established some boundaries so that we would feel safe in the midst of the unknown. I expected others to mind my boundaries over their own desires or convictions. And now that we've been in this quarantine for some time and I'm sick of regulations, I'm feeling that I have a right to express myself regardless of other's feelings. 

But when I believe my feelings are more validated or deserve more attention than others, I begin to create a sort of presence that can dampen or impede or alter those around me, just like Darlene foresaw in her prayer. When my speech is full of grievances, those around me might feel like they're always walking on eggshells when they're with me. When everything I do oozes fear about the coronavirus, those around me might find being with me too laborious or stifling. And when I give vent to others about how illogical other's behavior seems to be at this time, those around me might feel themselves attacked, judged, or misunderstood. They might even hide parts of themselves when they are around me for fear of offending me.

The alternative to putting ourselves at the center of our universes is to do what Darlene Deibler Rose did: to see other's feelings, views, or convictions as equally important as our own, and to entrust our feelings, views, or convictions to God before we allow them to sit on the throne of our hearts. 

By the way, Darlene's story is a beautiful demonstration of how she committed her thoughts, fears, aches, and angers to the Lord and how he answered her beautifully.

Rose, Darlene Deibler. Evidence Not Seen. HarperOne: New York, 2003.


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