All of us will mourn in our lives. Perhaps it will be the death of someone we love, or a relationship gone wrong, a loss of health, or a job terminated. A mourning heart can convince itself of all sorts of things that aren’t true: My husband didn’t really love me or I could’ve made him stop smoking if I really wanted to. Maybe you’ve heard some of its criticism, too: My friend never liked me. I didn’t deserve that job.
And, of course: It’s all my fault.
A mourning heart is also a fickle one. Mine can be quiet for days in a row and then some tiny detail catches its attention and suddenly it indicts me again. It squeezes my emotions and torments me with comments: You didn’t listen enough. You didn’t devote enough time. You didn’t pray enough.
So how can we deal with the emotional turmoil the lies of a mourning heart cause? I found three things that help.
- Shine the light on those lies. In my case, there was nothing I could have done to make Neil quit smoking; he was a grown man who made his own choices. You may not have been a perfect friend or employee, but there is no such thing as perfect. And no matter what happened, it was not all your fault.
- Remind yourself that mourning is an important part of the healing process, but guilt is not. If you made mistakes, learn from them. You cannot change the past, but you can use that new knowledge to change your future.
- Take a step ahead. You don’t have to go running into a new life, but take one step into it. I find this to be the hardest part. I don’t want to step forward – I want to go back! Accepting that as impossible, I’ve been able to take some tiny steps. For example, Neil and I watched the Christmas parade from the same corner for the last 20 years. This year, I found a new spot. Being in a different place allowed me to enjoy it as a fresh experience and not just an empty echo of an older one.
So, the next time your mourning heart starts trying to convince you of things that aren’t true, shine the light of understanding into it and remind it how God sees us. God knows we aren’t perfect and that we make mistakes. He knows our faults and weaknesses, and He loves us anyway. He is walking into the future with us even if we are only taking baby steps. And He doesn’t believe the lies of our mourning hearts, so neither should we.