Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ringing in My Ears

Grief's constancy

Two months ago, I had a severe cold and blocked up ears that made my right ear start ringing. It was a mild frustration throughout the day, but that night, the ringing was so extreme that I could not sleep. It wasn't that the ringing became worse, it was that all the distractions and noises of the day were gone and I was left with only the constant sound in my ear.

I have found my grief to be much like a rining in my ear, especially during the holidays. I go through the day, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the season - but always hearing the undertone of grief. And then, when the distractions fade, either with a quiet moment in a hallway, my car, or in the calm of the night, I become consciously aware of the grief that has been humming in my mind all day. In so many unexpected moments, I am left only to hear my grief - the pause between songs on the radio, a lull in the conversation - and a dozen other moments throughout the day calm the noises enough to make me aware of grief's constant presence. But at night, the awareness can become almost unbearable. Occasionally I will wake at 3am, the house completely silent. Surrounded by quiet, my mind is overwhelmed by grief's ringing. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions of my grief flow unabated. Some nights I have laid awake for several hours, my mind unable to control the train of grief burrowing through me.

My unintended solution for this has been to wear myself down to the point of exhaustion. That way I can sleep through the night. My two toddler daughters help emensely with this endeavor! But what about those who grieve who do not have the distraction of caring for others? I have been thinking a lot of parents who lose their first child. How much louder the ringing of grief must be for those who do not have other children in the house to fill the void with laughter and playing.

However, exhausting myself is not how God intends for us to deal with our pain. "Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest." What does this look like in the silence of the night? There are times when I have come to the Lord with my grief, sitting on His lap and letting the tears flow. But there are other times when I come to the Lord in the night asking him to fill the silent void. He has given me songs and prayers to fill my mind - a respite from the ringing. I am thankful that our Lord never rests! Instead, just like my grief - I find that I am more aware of Him in the stillness of the night.

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