The nor’easter was blowing against our windows when I sat down, crossed my legs on the coffee table and heard the television evangelist claim, “Your next will be better than your now.” It sounded good, but it didn’t sound right so I listened longer. For the next 30 minutes I heard how Rebecca made 84 trips to give 1000 gallons of water to Boaz’ camels which is the exact amount of dollars God told the evangelist that people should donate to his TV show.
The problem is, for some people their next is going to be worse than their now. When you get told your kid has leukemia, or you find out your friend was killed by friendly fire, or you simply sit down and turn on the news your next gets ugly. In those moments, your next could be worse than your now and no amount of money is going to change that.
But how can my next be my now? Ah grasshopper, good question. Attitude. Call it spirit. Or how about your world view? For me, this generally decides how I take the news, how I deal with adversity or prosperity. Generally, I’m a pretty pessimistic guy. But hey, I’m a Philly fan and I’m watching them play the Cowboys.
On a moment to moment basis, situationally speaking, I’m pretty optimistic. I was confident I could walk 2000 plus miles. I thought I could make it on a college soccer team after playing two years at a tiny high school. I believe that if I keep trying, if I don’t quit, I can build a timber frame building, or a chopper motorcycle, or fix the internet.
But for some reason when it comes to world peace or the heart of mankind, I’m pretty negative. I forget the unforgettable—God wins. That’s the attitude that fills my wife when she reads her devotions, sings in the choir, and watches ION Life shows (we don’t get Hallmark). Knowing what I can do is okay but knowing what God is doing, is life changing. That’s when my next gets as good as my now. It’s got nothing to do with how many gallons of water I feed someone’s camels and everything to do with recognizing I am blessed.
Now I’m the first to question the fake smile and the naïve view that everything is okay, especially when it isn’t. You find out what real spirituality is when you experience real suffering. Sadness, grief, even anger are normal, expected emotions. But not a way of life. And that’s what prolonged grief syndrome is—it’s a way of life. It’s physical, it’s emotional, and yea, it’s spiritual, too and it sucks. No, it SUCKS.
Prolonged Grief is when you get up four years later and the Christmas season is still dreaded. It’s when you see the joy in a child’s eye when they get a present, but you have tears in yours because all you can see is your own child who is no longer living. I know it’s going to happen, I know I’ll drift into what will never be at a time when all I see is joy but it just isn’t enough. It happens every year. But it doesn’t have to be a way of life for me. It doesn’t have to define me.
What if now, I do something different? What if I think something different? So yesterday I helped some dads build a manger with their kids. I was together with some guys who never got to experience having a dad at home. And I got to watch them do something for some dads and their kids. They didn’t lament their past, I’m sure it bothers them sometimes. But what did they do? They took that energy and turned it into something good for some other dads and their kids.
That’s the magic of Christmas. God gave his son to save the world. The guys I saw forgot themselves to help others. If you suffer from grief, please look below to find out more. This season, I will be thinking about you.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about grief.