Denise Grace Gitsham
The past two weeks have been a blur. Between Josh’s birthday, visiting parents, Fourth of July BBQs, dinner parties, on-boarding a new client, and the arrival of my sixteen year old stepdaughter, life has been non-stop.
Non-stop is a welcome pace when I’m looking for distractions, and I’ve certainly needed them over the past few weeks.
But as the whirlwind of activity ground to a halt, normalcy returned, and with it, a now-familiar sense of grief. For the past two days, I’ve kept that grief at bay by throwing myself back into work. But yesterday, it hit me full force, right as I was driving to a business meeting. Fighting back tears, I kept the waterworks in check, but lost it on the way home when a friend called to say hi.
In between big, gulping sobs, I told her about the grief that’s haunted me ever since we learned about our miscarriage. It’s literally omnipresent; a dark little cloud that follows me everywhere, and threatens to lash out at the most inopportune moments. She listened patiently as I told her how I felt, and at just the right moment, she asked a gentle but direct question: what was I doing to rest?
Rest?! Who has time to rest?! And what does rest have to do with grieving? Rest is for the weary, not the sad.
Plus, I’m really bad at rest. While I try to rest every Sunday, I often fail at it. My mind is constantly spinning, and if there isn’t something I need to do, I’ll make up something to do.
The upside of my busyness is that I’m the literal queen of productivity. I can do more things in less time than most, and get praised for it. The downside of my busyness is that it keeps me from doing the inner work that’s essential to my personal growth – the stuff that no one gives you a gold star for. That stuff can only happen when our minds and bodies are in a state of rest.
That’s what my friend helped me realize; that resting is the only way I can finish processing this grief. Instead of burying myself in distractions, I need to do the opposite. I literally have to rest. But how, if my mind wanders off to dark and lonely places, when left to its own devices?
I found the answer to this question in the Old Testament. It lies in a magical combination of rest and praise, called selah. Hebrew scholars aren’t 100% sure of its meaning, but they found it commonly used in response to a declaration of God’s truth. Selah appears 71 times in the Book of Psalms, where King David chronicles his sorrow, while he hides in the desert from a pack of murderous enemies (including his ingrate of a son, Absalom). As he pours his grief out to God, King David ends his psalms with reminders of His goodness and love. It’s in the declaration of these truths – truths that transcend his circumstances - that King David finds the rest that ultimately heals him.
Therein lies the magic of selah; that in the midst of soul-crushing realities, we can still choose to rest in greater truths: that no matter how dire our circumstances may look or feel, deliverance and healing are near. Distractions come and go, emotions rise and fall, but God can always be trusted. These truths sustained King David, and they will sustain me as well. In time, and with selah, my heart will be restored.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for he shall redeem me. Selah. – Psalm 49:15