Out of Exile: Day Ten – Denying Your Loss

Anger, Fear, and Sadness operate like a Band of Brothers. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other. That’s why it’s important you learn to identify them in your life and have a plan to deal with each one.

Unfortunately, the quick solution to these emotions is denial. Feel bad? No problem. Just immerse yourself in behavior that drowns out the noise from your loss. 

The problem with clichés isn’t that they are untrue. The problem is they shutdown the thinking and grief process. 

We’ve all been there. Denial looks different to different people. It can be socially acceptable with things like working too much, over-indulging in hobbies or exercise, or “social” drinking. But for too many, exile brings such strong disillusionment that they feel justified in throwing off any inhibitions they once had.  

If life suddenly doesn’t make sense, they why bother? That’s why we are often shocked at the revelations of secret lifestyles of people who were once known for their integrity and moral influence.  For some, sin leads them into exile. For others, exile is what leads them to sin.

The most prominent form of denial is simple minimizing of losses. Spiritual people do this effortlessly because we have Bible based clichés ready to do the job. What do we say when confronted with loss? I’m just trusting the Lord. The Lord gives and he takes away. You can fill in your own personal favorite.

The problem with clichés isn’t that they are untrue. The problem is they shutdown the thinking and grief process. You should absolutely trust in the Lord. He will bring you through your loss. BUT, it still hurts. It’s still a loss. You need to acknowledge that loss, admit the impact it had, and give yourself permission to feel terrible about it for a season.

That’s not un-Christian. That’s being human. God made us human. It’s okay. It’s necessary. But what many do is trivialize their loss and then it sits in their heart rotting for years, souring the person on life.

There are so many losses that come automatically when you enter ministry. I’ll get to these in coming posts. But for now I hope you will start to ask yourself what the losses are that you have and then what emotions you have in response to the losses. Once you answer those, if I could get you to share that with your spouse (or a friend), that would be amazing. You will have started the process of getting out of exile.

What are some ways you have denied your losses? What are some clichés you use to minimize loss?

Leave a comment at the very bottom of this page and share this post with others. Thanks.

 

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8 thoughts on “Out of Exile: Day Ten – Denying Your Loss

  1. Leah Gunderson

    Hey Remi!

    Have you ever read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero? We’re going through it as a series and we spoke about this same topic tonight in Youth Group. It’s an easy concept to grasp, but very hard to apply – thanks for exploring it. You should check out his book if you haven’t – I think you’d resonate a lot with his stuff!

    – Leah

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Good to hear from you. Yes, Peter has some good writing. I should pull his book back out. I went to a conference when his book first came out where he brought his lead staff to talk about church health. The book I read was The Emotionally Healthy Church. I haven’t read anything since. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Anonymous

    You’ve described “denying loss” very well. I’m not in ministry as a pastor, but a major life loss, nearly 20 years ago, continues to have a huge impact on me, my life, my heart, my spirit. I have shared the depths and realities of that loss with my spouse, a few close friends and even a God-sent stranger on an airplane one time. They are all very sympathetic and try to be helpful, but are just as unable to offer any “resolving” insight, help or healing. I’ve prayed, pleaded, sought and struggled with the Lord – and continue to do so. But the pain and impact of the loss continues. For me, the only way forward is to “deny” the loss and get on with life – doing all the things I need to be doing as a husband, father, follow of Christ – despite the fact that the loss is unresolved. I have done all the “right things” as best I am able. My point is that sometimes loss and it’s companions (anger, fear, sadness) is something we have to live with, embrace, and accept into the fabric of our lives.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to mention this. I’m sure other people are in the same place and you give them voice to speak to this issue. I’ll address this concern as best I can along the way of this 40 day journey. I dealt with it extensively in my book STUCK, trying to help people see how that in God you truly can move on. I think it is true that at one level, there may always be a degree of emotion. A loss is a loss. You can’t get away from that. The greater the loss, the bigger the impact. But I really do believe that God can show us a way out of that pain so we no longer look at it as something that was taken away but something that shaped us into who we now are. If I can push you beyond that thought, that who you are now has more to offer others because of what you have experienced. It’s counter intuitive to think that taking something from you can actually add something to your life. But if you can reframe your thinking, that’s exactly what happened. Sometimes we won’t let go of the pain because the event was so obviously wrong. We feel justified in holding onto our pain. But if you can get past that “right,” then you might see that there is a place of freedom waiting on the other side. That’s a short answer to a big issue, but I wanted to give you at least a little something to chew on.

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks for your words of hope and encouragement. My mind can understand and embrace what you’re saying – bringing along the heart always seems to be a different matter. When a huge piece (of the heart) is lost, the healing seems alot like scar tissue – the overwhelming and excruciating pain has passed, but there remains an ever-present (and at times tenderly sensitive) reminder of what was lost. I suppose the true mark of maturity is, as you say, when that scar tissue is a reminder of what was gained, not what was lost.

  3. Lisa

    These are my favorite insights from day 10. “Anger, Fear, and Sadness operate like a Band of Brothers.” ” For some, sin leads them into exile. For others, exile is what leads them to sin.” I agree denial and marginalizing loss works for a time but for me it typically leads me to anger. I can’t leave the loss unadressed. Where I have typically gotten in a rut was with the anger. If I don’t deal with it, the wound will fester into resentment and bitterness which exacerbates my exile experience.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      What’s happening isn’t so much that denial leads to anger. Anger leads to denial. Anger is the initial emotion to loss. Many of us learn how to deflect to something else so we don’t feel the full force of our anger, but the coverup eventually wears thin and the anger breaks through…at least for you. Some people are able to live in perpetual denial. Count yourself lucky that you are authentic/honest enough to not tolerate the coverup! Facing your anger is what brings insight. It seems like you’ve learned a lot in your exile and that’s because you were willing to face the pain of your emotions.

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