Spiritually Speaking answers personal questions and concerns with a spiritual perspective. Local religious leaders that will take part in the discussion include Bryan Griem of Montrose Community Church; Jon Karn of Light on the Corner Church; Kimberlie Zakarian of Holy House Ministries; Skip Lindeman of La Cañada Congregational United Church of Christ; Rabbi Simcha Backman of Chabad of Glendale; Levent Akbarut of Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge; Betty Stapleford of Unitarian Universalist; Paige Eaves CV United Methodist Church; Bryan Jones of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church; Steven Van Meter and Beverly Craig of La Crescenta Center for Spiritual Living and Sharon Weisman, atheist/agnostic/secular humanist/free thinker. We welcome your questions and comments. Email us at email@example.com.
Responses are offered from the perspectives of individual clergy members, which may or may not be in agreement with other respondents of Spiritually Speaking nor the editor and staff of the Crescenta Valley Weekly.
Question: Although I was raised with what I consider a good, solid spiritual base, I must
not have grasped important Christian principles that are helpful during difficult times. My husband passed away recently and every ounce of faith I thought I had went out the window. Peace is a foreign word to me. I am grateful that God blessed us with a son and a daughter who are now adults. They are grieving too, so we’re not much help to one another. I’m having a difficult time just getting through a day at
How can I regain and practice my faith?
~ Lost Soul
Dear Lost Soul,
Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of your dear husband. Healing is a very personal process and it takes as long as it takes to adjust to a new life without the one you love.
My spiritual belief as a Minister of the Science of Mind teaching is that we live in a spiritual universe and that there is one creative Source to all things, which is eternal and all present. We also believe in the immortality of life. Death is as much a part of Life as living. Ralph Waldo Emerson states in his essay Circles, “There is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning…there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens…” Each one of us is the individualization of the one eternal life, God. Scripture tells us that “In my house there are many mansions”. What that means in my teaching is that in the Mind of God there are many dimensions, or states of consciousness. We continue to rise from one state of mind to the next as life progresses. That is part of the eternality of life.
You have said that you have been having a difficult time relying on your faith to see you through this time of struggle. Faith is truly the answer to your prayer. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. We must coach ourselves to trust and to look persistently to God for the solution, all the while resting in assurance that what we ask and affirm in Spirit will come to pass. When we turn our attention to Spirit, our mind makes contact with a realm of thinking that is above our day-to-day thinking. We come into alignment with the inspired Mind of the I AM, God, and listen with the understanding that there is a solution for good working itself out.
I would like to share with you a passage, by an anonymous author that I have shared at many memorials:
“Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. This thing that is, is anything but what it seems to be. I am me and you are you and whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name and speak to me in the same easy way. Put no difference in your tone and wear no sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Think of me and pray with me. Let my name be spoken without a shadow of a ghost in it. Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight? All is well, nothing is lost. One brief moment and we shall be as it was before and we shall be together.”
Grieving comes in stages and is very much a part of the healing necessary to cope with loss. It can feel overwhelming and never-ending, but I assure you, you will heal in time.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is an exceptional psychiatrist recognized for her insightful and compassionate works. She identified what she termed the five stages of grief through her intensive research in dealing with death and dying. Her insights can offer great solace in coping with the feelings that you have expressed. In brief, the stages are:
- Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
- Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
- Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
Furthermore, if you find yourself in the state of mind that feels incapable of coping, there are steps you can take to help yourself move beyond the grief. Reaching out to fellow family members to reminisce and also share your feelings can be very healing; getting together with friends and staying active is a positive way to cope; contacting a grief support group or counseling can be very helpful; reading inspirational books can be another valuable tool. Most importantly, turn your struggle over to God, knowing that with God, all things are possible.
I offer you my prayers and trust that you will move through this time in peace and grace – God Bless!
Rev. Mary Morgan
Dear Lost Soul,
As one who has suffered through the death of a child, cancer and a few other significant losses, I can tell you that times like these are never easy,
but that God is able to get us through them. Faith is not a feeling; faith is holding onto God, trusting that He will heal the heartache and pain you are now experiencing.
Here are a few things that helped me as I “walked through the valley of the shadow of death.” First, be honest with God. I found that reading the Psalms was especially helpful. The Psalmist didn’t sugarcoat his emotions. He expressed his emotions in raw, unfiltered terms. terms.
Second, find a Christian grief support group. It is usually led by someone who has already experienced loss and understands the journey that is ahead of you.
Third, give yourself permission to grieve. It takes several years to fully recover from the loss of a spouse. Accept and embrace your emotions – they are part of life. When our Lord lived on the earth, he experienced all these emotions and fully understands our pain.
Finally, a book that helped me through the loss of my daughter was, “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. Lewis lost his wife, Joy, after a long bout with cancer. This book is based on his journal entries during his time of grief. He is honest about the impact of this loss on his faith, as well as his journey back to faith.
These things helped me during my times of grief and loss. I hope you’ll find them helpful.
From one who has been on
Pastor Bill Flanders
First Baptist Church at La Crescenta
Question: When I was 16, I had an abortion. Since then, I’ve regretted that
decision. I read once that the little souls who are not allowed into this
world because of abortion grieve for the lost opportunity. Now, at age 34,
I’m the mother of three beautiful children. Although I’m told God has
forgiven me, I can’t forgive myself. When I look at my children, I think,
“There should have been four.” Will I have to live with this burden the rest
of my life? Is there a way I can really forgive myself?
~ Guilty Mom
Dear Guilty Mom,
There are many of us who have had much the same experience as you. Our culture does not do a very good job in helping young women and young men move through intense situations by acknowledging the difficult decisions we make as teenagers. So, like me, any grief or loss you may have felt at the time over the termination of your pregnancy would have gone ignored or invalidated. And those feelings can stay with us for a very long time. The residual feelings about decisions like terminating a pregnancy as a teenager change us for good and are always with us. What I have found helpful is honoring the young girl I was and that painful yet necessary decision I had to make at the time. That decision was necessary because in no way was I mature enough or stable enough to be a mother. It grew my relationship with God because knowing that I am forgiven has given me permission to forgive and love myself. I am able to accept the teenage girl I was who did the best she could with the tools and information she had at the time. Not only that, but the love and appreciation I have for my two beautiful teenage children is informed every day by the decision I made as teen.
My prayer for you is that you find some forgiveness and peace for yourself.
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church
Dear Guilty Mom,
You ask a difficult question, one that many in the world have faced because life presents us with difficult choices, sometimes leaving with us regret and grief. When we choose a certain path, it means saying no to other paths. You said no to giving birth at a young age, and I imagine you gave this much thought and consideration and made the best decision you could at the time. Now you have children and you wonder what that other child might have been and did you keep that child’s soul from finding a home in a body for this earth. I am a believer in a God who not only forgives but has the power to make all things possible. I do not think any soul is kept from us; God finds a way to birth that life into this life. God’s will is not thwarted by
As far as forgiveness, I believe in a God who throughout the Bible forgives so we are free to move on, learning from our experience so we might live fully and joyfully. So it is not so much about forgiving yourself as believing that God already has forgiven you and loves you unconditionally right now.
I was inspired to write this poem on the changing of the seasons, and I offer it to you as a way of letting go of the hurt and allowing God to transform your pain into healing:
As the trees fall,
As the Amber turns from
Green to Red
As the temperature drops
And the sun sets so soon
My heart opens to your Spirit
And I allow healing to begin
As you harvest the pain.
Open my eyes to your Mercy
Help me turn away from Sin
Turning and returning to you.
Pastor Steve Poteete-Marshall
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church