“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
I remember talking to someone within the first day or two following Kim’s death. It was as if I was processing my shock, numbness, and grief verbally and on-the-fly. I was making this up as I went, it seemed. After saying something about knowing what was ahead of me, I stopped and said, “I know I am talking pretty big right now.” I might have been in shock, but I recognized it at times and wondered what else I might have said out loud.
I identified a behavior I’ll call aspirational response. I was saying things I wanted to be true of my current and future responses to my grief, but I had not yet truly been tested. However, I knew what I should say. I was talking big. Call it instinct. Call it intuition. But call it aspirational at best. Call it years of truth poured into my life.
I remember learning safety instructions for encountering certain wild and dangerous animals. Stand tall and appear big. That’s what this aspirational response to loss felt like.
Over time, I realized you have moments when your aspirational responses match how you feel. Other times, your responses do not even come close to matching how you feel. It’s a rote response. Going through the motions. However, you keep on speaking out loud to help coach yourself toward the aspirational response.
“It takes time to get to this place after loss. It takes failing and trying again to reroute the trajectory of loss onto a path that restores hope.” Katherine and Jay Wolf, Suffer Strong
Some may call this “fake it ‘til you make it.” That’s not a bad idea. It’s almost like saying believe it until you see it. Having faith is better than having sight. By faith, we really can set a trajectory—an aspiration—for our response. Stand taller than this wild animal until you survive it. Dogged faith even in the face of horrible sight.
So, I figured it’s good to aspire to respond in faith. Sometimes what you see simply isn’t good, and the feelings reflect the sadness, even desperation, of the reality. However, you know that we see dimly now, and you can coach yourself toward what you believe to be true in the age to come. An eternal point of view is vastly different from a temporal perspective. Job understood this well, and I aspire to respond appropriately in my loss:
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 1:20-22
I aspire to do as Job did in his trials—which were, admittedly, extreme. In all that I face, I pray I do not sin or charge my God with wrong. I can stand in faith and do good because he is good. At least I can aspire.
“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11