Can I Feel Grief and Gratefulness at the Same Time [Episode 117]

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that I would be a grandma. Oh, girl, I was excited, surprised, and grateful!

Then, hours later, I went to bed—and I felt something I never expected. Grief.

Grateful eyes see what we have, not just what we’ve lost. [Click to Tweet]

My joy gave way to disappointment as it was replaced by the reality that I wouldn’t be able to see my grandbaby.

If you’re new to the 4:13 Podcast, now’s a good time to tell you that I’m blind. At 15, I lost my sight because of a disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. I’ve lived in physical darkness longer than I ever lived in physical light.

But now, in my fifties, I found myself grieving blindness in a way I never anticipated.

That was several years ago. Today, I have a second grandson. And, because I’d already processed such intense grief with the news of my first grandbaby, I didn’t have to navigate it on the same deep level the second time. Instead, I was able and am able to feel grateful and focus on what I have instead of the loss it represents.

Grateful eyes see possibility and hope, not just lack and despair. [Click to Tweet]

Friend, I’m learning that grief and gratefulness can share the same heartbeat, but they don’t share the same perspective.

In this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I talk about how you can feel both grief and gratefulness at the same time. You’ll discover what it means to see through the eyes of your heart and how you can put this perspective into practice.

3 Ways You Can Feel Grief and Gratefulness at the Same Time

  1. Understand that hope is your calling. When God opens the eyes of your heart, you see that hope is your calling! In Ephesians 1:18, Paul writes, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” You’re not called to despair or to drown in your grief; you’re called to hope. You’re not called to live discouraged; you’re called to live with hope. You’re not called to settle for fear; you’re called to see hope.
  2. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart. What does it mean to have the eyes of your heart enlightened? Look back at Ephesians 1:17, where Paul writes, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” The people Paul was writing to already had the Holy Spirit, so he’s likely referring to an attitude or frame of mind here that serves the purpose “so that you may know him better.”

    The spirit of wisdom and revelation is not some mysterious blessing given to a select few, and it’s not the ability to speak as a prophet. Instead, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to help the people of God understand the things of God. It enables you to view everything with spiritual awareness and sensitivity. When you see this way, you see blessing tucked inside disappointment. You view your situation—and your whole life—through the eyes of gratefulness. Grateful eyes will always see hope.

    Viewing your life through this spiritually enlightened lens doesn’t mean you see everything through rose-colored filters. Grief and discouragement are still real, and it’s all still hard. Seeing with your heart doesn’t mean you won’t get distracted by the difficult things in life, or focus now-and-then on your disappointments. But, when you see with the eyes of your heart, you have a clear view of what your physical eyes may overlook. When you have Christ and His spirit is within you, He enlightens your eyes to see the real stuff and the right stuff—and it allows you to be grateful.

  3. Realize you can “be” thankful, even if you don’t “feel” thankful. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul says, “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances.” It’s interesting that he tells us to “be” not “feel” thankful. You can’t just un-feel grief, and when it’s heavy, it isn’t easy to feel grateful. Gratitude is more of a choice than a feeling. But, when you choose to be thankful, it can initiate feelings of gratefulness.

    I read some studies recently where researchers looked at a person’s brain while the individual was actively practicing gratitude. They found:

    1. Blood flow was increased in the hypothalamus, which informs and impacts eating, sleeping, stress, and metabolism. So, being grateful likely means you’ll eat and sleep better, have better self-control, and maybe even rev up your metabolism.
    2. Gratefulness activated brain regions associated with dopamine—the hormone that brings happy feelings and helps with motivation. So, that means thankfulness is like dark chocolate for your soul!
    3. Gratefulness initiates a virtuous cycle in our brains. Our brains love to fall for the confirmation bias—meaning, our brains look for things that it believes are true so they can prove they’re true. Once we start looking for things to be grateful for, our brains start seeing things to be grateful for. And, the virtuous cycle goes on and on!

    So, no matter how you feel, even if you’re in a hard place of loss, you can be thankful. You can find things to be grateful for and say them. And, when you do, you will start to find more and more. It will change your perspective.

Friend, you may hold all sorts of conflicting feelings in your heart today. You may feel emotions you never expected. But, no matter what life looks like for you, God can open the eyes of your heart.

He opens the eyes of the blind and He opens the eyes of those who can see perfectly well, but are blinded by disappointment, fear, or discouragement. And, when He does, hope will burst on the horizon, no matter how cloudy or dark the day. Faith, hope, and gratefulness will color the view.

So, look to Jesus, for He’s able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us!

Related Resources

Books, Bible Studies, and Music by Jennifer Rothschild

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