Meeting Grief with Gratitude

Meeting Grief with Gratitude

I grew up as a pastor’s kid. Since my dad was married and had children while still in college and seminary, our vagabond ways started out young for me, and continued throughout my childhood years. When I went away to college I met and married an Army guy, so the moving continued. By the time we arrived in Crystal Lake, I’d averaged only 2 1/2 years in any one house. Unlike my husband, who had lived in the same house for nearly all his childhood, I was pretty used to saying goodbye. I didn’t know how to put down roots.

Then God landed us here in Crystal Lake. While I’ve had to say goodbye to some dear friends in the 23 years we’ve been here, it’s not been the revolving door of departures that it was prior to here. I even feel a little bit rooted—a rather strange sensation for me.

Now I’m faced with letting go, and that’s not a muscle I’ve used for a while. The night after our Good Friday service I was thinking about this. I can’t begin to tell you what a thrill it has been working with Pastor Doug on many years of Good Friday services and events. And it was a bit bitter sweet knowing that this year’s would be the last. But the Lord reminded me of lesson He’d taught me as I faced a disappointment during one previous move.

I had been disappointed that we were not getting what we wanted (our preferred destination, with a house we’d already picked out), and was pouting a bit. But the Lord wouldn’t let me stay there. He reminded me of all the blessings of the past few years, and I moved me to give Him thanks for all the wonderful things He’d allowed me to experience, and to confess my sense of entitlement. So, as I was beginning to feel wistful and feeling the loss of leaving here, I turned around and started to be grateful for all the opportunities and joy the Lord allowed me to have in serving Him at EFCCL, the phenomenal partnership I’ve had working for Pastor Doug and others on his creative team, and the many friends and spiritual family I’ve come to love here.

Over the years I have learned that whenever the sense of loss arises (for all change is loss, and all loss carries grief), I acknowledge the sorrow, but meet it with profound gratitude for all the blessings God has given me. I do this when I think of my mother, who died seven years ago, or my bosom friends who have moved away. And I will be doing so as I grieve leaving here, for there is SO much to be grateful for as I look back on our time here.

This is not a total good-bye. Pastor Doug has asked me to continue writing the Words of Worship and the annual Lenten devotional, as well as the Daily Prayers for Spiritual Growth. So, whether we meet in the written word, or you look us up on a trip to Florida, or we meet again in Glory, this is “see you later,” not “good-bye.”

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries