Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


Leave a comment

Blessed are Those Who Mourn

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

I lived in Montreal, Quebec, during the days of Trudeaumania, and was naively caught up in the energy of it.  I even had newspaper photos of Trudeau plastered on my wall.  Trudeau symbolized the boundless optimism of Canada in the late 1960’s when we believed that if we tried a bit harder, our national problems would rapidly go away.  As a westerner who has spent most of my life in BC, I also went through the alienation phase with Trudeau when my heart hardened to his style of leadership.  Given the hardness of my heart, I was surprised how much his funeral moved me, even to the point of tears.  I felt like I wasn’t just mourning for Trudeau’s death but for the death of an era when things seemed simpler.

When my mother-in-law passed on, my wife and I both decided to take a 13-week ‘Grief Share’ course.  Grief Share is a video series with small group sharing by the participants.  As a clergyman, I often take funerals and help others deal with their grief.  But when one’s own family is involved, grief is experienced quite differently.

We live in a high-tech culture that gives us little time to really grieve.  In contrast to the speed of modern internet communications, grieving cannot be rushed.  The heart of ‘quality grieving’ involves a lot of ‘quantity grieving’.  Grieving takes a lot more time than many of us want to devote to it.

Another thing that has been reinforced to me through taking the ‘Grief Share’ course is that grieving is best done in community and through relationships.  Our culture is radically individualistic and private about things that really matter.  Some people have become so private about death that they have even given up on funerals.  Instead we just read in the paper about the death of former friends and loved ones.  The tragedy of the demise of funerals is that it has left many people stuck in grief, with no way to express it.

I was in the Okanagan visiting relatives when my Aunt Marg said to me: ‘Ed, I have a friend who has had a mental breakdown, and no one can figure out why.  Can you help her?’  Meeting with Aunt Marg’s friend, I discovered that due to an physical illness, she had missed her mother’s funeral.  Sensing that this was the root of the breakdown, I led her on the shore of Lake Okanagan in some brief prayers, releasing memories of her mom into the arms of Jesus.  Upon returning to Vancouver, my Aunt Marg phoned me and said: ‘I don’t know what happened.  But whatever you did seemed to work.  She is totally better now’.  Some of you reading this article may be suffering at this very moment from never having been able to go to the funeral of a loved one.  Perhaps your loved one lived half way around the world, and it didn’t seem practical.  Perhaps no funeral was even permitted.  Either way, you need to create the opportunity for you to release the memories of your loved one into Jesus’ arms.

Grief, when not dealt with, can cut us off from others.  Grief can paralyze our day-to-day functioning in ways that can be embarrassing.  None of us are immune from grief.  That is why the Good Book encourages us to ‘weep with those who weep’.  Grieving is best done when a loving community and family surround us with their thoughts and prayers.  We have to fight the temptation in grief that makes us want to hide away and try to handle it ourselves.  Time by itself heals nothing.  In fact, refusing to weep with those who weep can actually make us sick, sick at heart, sick in body, sick in spirit.  How much unnecessary cancer, heart disease and arthritis comes because we refuse to grieve?

That is why the most famous person in the universe said: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’.  Jesus knew that there is a healing that can come when we face our grief head-on.  There is a comfort that can come when we are willing to be honest about how tough it has been to lose our loved ones.  There is a blessing that will come when we let the tears flow and allow others to listen deeply to our pain.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, went through intense grief and loss.  The shortest verse in the bible is simply ‘Jesus wept’.  Weeping is an expression of the depth of our love.

I have found that grieving will not destroy me, but refusing to grieve will.  Grieving will not cause me to fall apart, but rather fall together.  Grieving will not bring a breakdown, but rather a breakthrough.  So many of the dysfunctional and addictive things that we do in life are the fruit of our unwillingness to do the hard work of grieving.  But running from death always brings death, death of hope, death of peace and death of intimacy.

 

By embracing death on that painful cross, Jesus broke the power of death to destroy our hopes and dreams.  By rising from the dead, Jesus proved that death does not have the final word.  By faith in Jesus’ resurrection, we will see our loved ones again.  We need not fear as we grieve, for Jesus has them in his loving arms.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


3 Comments

The ‘Dangers’ of Listening to Women

Ed_Jan2By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Most  men are ‘experts’ on women, until we marry one. Experience can be rather humbling to our most treasured pre-conceptions.

Flowers are, by far, the most popular gift that men like to give to women, followed by chocolates, candies, and other such delicacies. But perhaps the most valuable and most dangerous gift that we can give the women in our lives is the gift of listening.

confusedHeartfelt, non-critical listening is a rare phenomenon in our fast-paced, analytical culture. Listening takes time. Listening takes energy. Listening takes courage. To be honest, it often seems a lot easier just to give them chocolates. Most of us as men know that we need to grow in the area of listening.

The most offensive thing about listening is how helpless it can make us feel. Very few of us as men either like to feel weak or admit our weaknesses. Despite the male consciousness-raising of the last thirty years, such radical vulnerability does not come easy.

I well remember the first year of our marriage as a great time. My wife however has somewhat different memories…‘little things’ like our living on a shoe-string budget so that we could go on vacation in Europe, and my spending all my time studying for my Master’s Degree.

Years later, she finally told me that the first year wasn’t a bed of roses. I said: “Why didn’twife of your youth you tell me?” “Well, Ed”, she said, “You weren’t listening”. Sadly, she was right. One of the dangers of listening to women is that we just might hear something that we don’t want to hear. Our equilibrium may be so unsettled that it will take us quite a while to recover.

The key women in our lives usually have a remarkable ability to impact our sense of inner calm, in a way that our male acquaintances rarely do. When a male upsets another man, we often just ‘write them off’ and carry on. But when a key woman ‘gets under our skin’, we have to deal with it, or our life begins to shrink.

One of the key signs of a man going through a marriage breakup is the radical energy loss, and the consequent impact on his work. As men, we are usually so ‘thick’ that when a marriage breakup hits us, we rarely see it coming. It’s like being hit by a Mac Truck. So many men say: “I had no idea”. Exactly. More than any other offense, the action that most drives our wives to the Courts (and I don’t mean ‘tennis’) is our unwillingness to listen.

laceheartAnother danger of listening to women is that we might have to change. None of us like being controlled. We certainly don’t like being treated like children by the key women in our lives. Sometimes we confuse our fear of change with our fear of being controlled. Without change, there is no growth. Without change, there is no future. I have found that if I am willing to change the things that I can change (which is me), then the rest of life begins to make more sense.

The famous A.A. Serenity prayer asks God for the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change ( which includes anyone else, especially the women in our lives). When we finally wake up and realize that women are ‘unfixable’ (that is, by us), then we can stop trying to change them, and start actually listening. Genuine listening to women can be unnerving, because to listen is to change.

Most of us as men have an amazing ability to Channel Changerblock out parts of conversations that make us feel uncomfortable. Ever wonder why women get so irritated with us, as so many men are forever flicking on the TV channel changer. This filtering ability can make men look like their memories are extremely selective. As the old saying goes, the problem with men is that they never remember, and the problem with women is that they never forget.

I remember when a former secretary in another city came up to me and courageously shared some concerns with me about our work environment. My ‘walls’ were down that day, and so I actually heard what she was saying. I said to her, “Why have you taken so long to tell me?” She said, “Because until now you would have never listened. You would have just explained it away.” I felt stunned and challenged. Here I was, a trained Social Worker and Priest, and I couldn’t even see my own ‘walls’.

The Good Book says that our hearts are deceitful, and that no one can really understand them. (Jeremiah 17:9) We have an amazing ability to fool ourselves. Have you noticed how often we judge our spouses by planktheir actions, and ourselves by our good intentions. That is why Jesus challenged each of us to first remove the log from our eyes, before we try to do surgery on the splinter in someone else’s eye.

Courageous listening  is choosing to remove that log of defensiveness, and actually give the women in our lives our full, uncompromised attention. I have found that my wife is virtually always right even when she is wrong. She, and most other women, have a God-given intuitive ability that functions like a radar system in discerning basic truth. Sometimes she can’t even tell me why she is feeling so uncomfortable about some area, but in hindsight, my listening to her has saved me a lot of grief. That doesn’t mean that she is always right on all the details, but she usually intuitively grasps the core of issues.

That is why the famous author Gary Smalley says that every woman has a built-in marriage manual, if we men would only have the courage to listen and not reject It has taken me a long time to fully benefit from this ‘dangerous’ gift of my wife.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus after his resurrection turned up to women first? Perhaps it’s because women are so spiritually open. No one in that 1st century culture listened to women, except Jesus. So Jesus, after rising again, broke all the rules and showed up to rejected, despised, ignored women. Did the male disciples initially believeempty_large the women when they shared about the risen Jesus? Not in your life. Like so many of us men today, they wrote off the women’s stories as “old wives’ tales”.

I pray that we men may have the courage to listen to the stories of women, especially their stories of Jesus’ love.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca