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Validation And Distraction

As I am once again plunged into the dark place of grief since I just lost my grandpa only nine months after losing my mother-in-law (I was extremely close to both of them), I am confronted with well-meaning people trying to distract me in order to make me feel better.  I’m also confronted with people who are not compassionate at all towards my deep pain.  I had no idea I would have the latter problem.

But with this post I want to focus on validation and distraction.  From the moment infants are born, many well-meaning people tend to distract infants when they cry instead of validating them and telling them that they will meet their needs.

I mean shushing the infant and saying, “You’re okay.” is not validating them. They are crying for a reason and it’s up to us to validate them and figure out what they need.

Unfortunately, this tendency to use distraction over validation occurs throughout life.  People just aren’t comfortable with anyone of any age showing negative emotions.  And yet, the Bible says:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, NASB).

The Bible also says:

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NASB).

We can rejoice easy enough with people, but when it comes to weeping and mourning with them, many run the other way.  I believe this is due to being taught distraction from birth.  It’s easier to say, “You’re okay,” and try to make someone smile and laugh than to sit down with them and listen to their pain and cry with them.

I find the most peace when people tell me that everything I am feeling right now is normal and to take my time. After all, to truly semi heal from great loss is to feel the pain and let it pass.  God never distracts us from our pain.  He is right here feeling it with us and comforting us.  Encouragement is also so helpful to anyone of any age.

All this being said, I believe there is a place for respectful distraction.  But it must always come after validation.  Offering a young child something to do after he/she has pretty much worked through his/her upset is fine as long as the child can refuse it.  Sending a funny video to a hurting person is okay as long as it is preferenced with “I know you’re having a hard time.  I thought this might give you a smile.”  Offering to take a grieving person out is okay as long as you are ready to hear them talk about the pain and maybe even see him/her cry.

Hurting, upset people of all ages need validation over distraction!  Yes, taking a break from our pain is important, but without the support and validation of others, it makes the healing process take longer.  It also causes children to learn that negative feelings are unacceptable and that they should repress and deny their pain.

If there is physical pain then validating it should still come before distraction.  I use distraction as a coping mechanism but I recognize that I must feel the pain too as, unfortunately, pain is a part of this life on Earth.

May we always validate each other so that no one must carry their pain and burdens alone.

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The Pain Is REAL!

So, my husband and I are grieving his mom who went Home August 8th, 2015 and it’s become more and more obvious how the United States wants to repress pain as soon as possible. Any negative emotion is pushed into a time frame, and once that time frame is over, it’s time to “get over it.”

Western society minimalizes everything unless the media finds it sensational and can then exploit others’ pain.

It wasn’t like this in Bible times. People spent weeks or months in mourning. It wasn’t rushed. You could actually mourn without pressure. Now, once the person is in the ground, it’s time to move on.

Well, I’m not ready. Grief does not work that way, especially when it’s a MOM!

Watching my husband grieve his mom has been unbearable. She carried him in her womb, nursed him, and did all the wonderful mom things with him.

How in the world do you simply “get over” that?  Guess what!  You DON’T!  Especially when she was a wonderful mom that never intentionally hurt him.

She was my second mom for 17 years. She fully accepted me into her family. With my disability AND our age difference, she could have chosen to be like my dad and reject me and disown her son. But she and her husband welcomed me right into the family as did the rest of my husband’s family.

To be hurting this much actually makes me happy in a way because to hurt THIS much means she did something VERY RIGHT. I’d choose this grief over the weird, yucky grief I had with my dad who abused me.

We need to stop teaching children from infancy that happiness is the only acceptable emotion because it’s not. It has created a society where pain and suffering must be dealt with as quickly as possible because it makes others feel uncomfortable. God never intended that. Validate your children’s negative feelings. Help them learn healthy ways of dealing with negative emotions.

Then, teach them how to help others who are in pain. Because while anyone can put a smile on his/her face and act “fine,” the pain is REAL no matter how old you are. It helps if not only God, but other people actually come along side you and help carry some of the pain. We can’t stop it, but we can help carry it!

Romans 12:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB):

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

Love this song, “Not Right Now” by Jason Gray.

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Meeting Needs as God Intended

Proverbs 3:27-34
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you.
Do not devise harm against your neighbor,
While he lives securely beside you.
Do not contend with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.
For the devious are an abomination to the Lord;
But He is intimate with the upright.
The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.”

How many times do we fail to help each other when we have the ability to do so?  The Church seems to be broken in this matter.  It seems many churches tend to help those who meet their criteria and will promote their agendas. A certain church may only help outsiders in order to bring in more people to their building, yet, when a member has a real need, the church rejects that member. Other churches will only help people within their denomination. Yet, God clearly says to help one another both in the above verse and throughout the Bible.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16).

This is also a problem in the family unit. A hungry infant is made to wait to eat and drink in order to teach him/her “who is in control.”  A tired toddler in need of snuggles is told to stop whining or is punished. A school-aged child needing to talk about an upsetting event is told not to interrupt a phone conversation.

Yes, there are times when children need to wait, but the introductory verse tells us to meet our neighbor’s need right away if possible. Yes, anyone, including our children, are our neighbors. Just think how much more connected we could be with our children and others if we would just put them first when possible!  Children rely on us just as we rely on God. God never puts us on hold while He sees to other matters. He is always attending to our needs in some way.

Finally, the last part of Proverbs 3:27-34 says do not envy violent men. This applies to spanking/hitting children too. God hates violence. We see this in the teachings of Jesus. To strike a child is an act of violence.

Let us do our best to give others and our children what they need whenever possible. Putting them off and/or inflicting pain on children is not what God had in mind.

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