Traversing the Dark Valley of Loss Part 1

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“The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23

The above bible passage means a lot to many people, it is highly used in funerals to bring comfort to the living.  It was also my grandmother’s favorite bible passage. This is not a death passage, it’s all about living life to it’s fullest.  I have found myself in a depression, one in which began two years ago and I am now just getting out of.  It has hit me so hard that I have stopped writing and have stopped running.  These are two of my most positive solitude’s.  I have put off writing this blog for weeks, and am finally doing it.  Loss is probably one of the most difficult trials we can go through.  Some people never recover from it.

I lost one of my best friends 12 years ago and his loss was enough to put me deep into a depression that would take years to get me out of.  I was eating myself to death, and I finally got some much needed positivity entering my life and lost 242 pounds to my surprise.  I found running and writing, and continued on these awesome positive paths, until two years ago when I lost two friends a week apart.  One was an incredible man that was one of my greatest cheerleaders in losing my weight and the father of the awesome friend and nurse that helped me lose the weight.  He was one of the greatest prayer warriors I have ever known and has influenced me to take my prayer life to the next level.  The other friend was a complete inspiration to me while I was losing weight.  She had battled cancer for so long and got it to remission, to get it back in the worst form.  Her husband and she were personal trainers who were out of shape and decided to get fit and began helping people with their fitness.  That fact inspired me to get into the business as well.  The loss that has been so hard was my best friend, who even stood up with me during my wedding, died of pneumonia a couple of months ago.  This shook me to my very foundation.  It also made me realize 90 pounds later that I have an issue and it’s called depression.  I want to speak to the idea of walking through the dark valley that is having loved ones lost, they are gone, and we must keep moving.  We cannot allow depression or survivor’s guilt to destroy the right paths God has for us.

There are five different stages to grief; the first is to deny the reality of the situation.  The second stage is anger for the one who died and left us.  The third stage is bargaining, or the if factor; if we were there, if he did this, if he could have done that.  The fourth is depression and sadness where most people have a hard time getting past.  The last stage is acceptance and is where we need to end up, but sadly a lot have a hard time getting to this point.  I’m going to focus on traversing the pain which is what Psalm 23 is all about, continued living in the face of death.  God cannot take this pain away; just like you cannot turn off the love for the person lost, we have to go through it and deal with it and learn from it.

The first part of this passage is the most comforting thing we can realize and that is the Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.  The roles of the shepherd are to keep the flock together, keep the flock safe, keep the flock on the right paths, and to keep the flock strong.  The only the role of the flock is to respond to the shepherd.  God keeps us together as long as we are receptive to His deity and His great love for us.  It’s a positive response in knowing that God is there doing great things and planning good for us.  The positive in pain is God turns the pain into prosperity if we get past the dark valley.  Let’s be honest, loss breaks us apart and leaves us an emotional mess, but it’s understandable, it’s the cycle of life.  Staying there is the problem, and God if we allow Him, can turn the tables on our grief and get us to the last step of acceptance.

The next thing God does as our shepherd is He keeps us from harm.  Pain seems to be at the onset harm, but it’s not, it’s a learning experience, it’s how we learn to respond to the negatives that will pop up during our lifetime.  God never promised a rose garden and sunny skies all the time.  He said we would have trials and tribulations in this life.  I have older clients that I deal with during the week, they are learning that to keep the digression of muscle loss they have to keep moving and experience the pain that exercise can bring.  The pain they experience the next day or so are little minute muscle tears that heal up and make stronger muscles.  It’s the same thing with emotional pain, we get stronger if we continue in God’s word and trust Him.  The shepherd is going to lead us to the right path that doesn’t cause harm, it may be painful, but we grow.

This leads to the next point and that is to keep into God’s word, do not disconnect from God with your pain.  Stay on His path He has set for you.  If you have a dream, keep on that dream, don’t let this stop you.  Sure, you have to take time to morn, which is so important to cry and grieve over someone you loved.  Don’t just grieve and leave God out of the experience.  Stay on the path, God is guiding us through.

If we allow God to keep us together, keep us from harm because we continue on His path, we will become stronger.  Part of overcoming barriers is to learn from them and to become stronger as we go through them.  I’m not saying if we allow God to do His work in our life that we will not experience the pain of loss, I’m saying we will be stronger as we go through the next one.  As we live longer we will experience loss more and more.  Like I said it’s the cycle of life, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop living.

If we allow God to be the great shepherd and keep us together, keep us safe from harm, keep us on the right path, and make us stronger because of it, we will lack nothing.

Is there someone you recently lost that you would like to mention in the comments below, I would love to hear about how great they were and still are?

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016

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