The Rugged Grace Blog
Good News from one of God's beloved to another.
By the grace of God, my days are beginning to be filled with wonder and awe once again.
Day by day I work hard to fully immerse myself into this new life I’m living. At times it feels weird. What I mean is, I no longer have anyone to take care of, no doctor's appointments at the Mayo Clinic, no life or death medical emergencies to contend with daily.
I'm not complaining, merely observing what I suspect other people take for granted, which is a simple, peaceful life.
Is this what it feels like to live a normal life; a life without trauma, drama, and plenty of additional free time?
I am working full time doing what I love. I love where I live. And, I love those around me that I am reconnecting with and those I am just meeting and getting to know.
I am a wanderer living in wide-eyed wonder at God’s goodness as he see his plans and purposes be found to unfold in my life.
I don't like the pain I've been through, but I am growing from it.
I am grateful for all that has happened for me, not to me in the last 6 months.
I am developing my faith, getting back to the basics, and working through complex trauma that had built up over the years of being a caretaker for my late wife.
I just want to say thank you if you count yourself among those that have prayed for me, rather than gossip.
I want to say thank you if you count yourself among those who extended hand if from headship and forgiveness.
If you consider yourself as someone called to judge me or my life for any reason, I want to say thank you, and let you know that I am praying that God would give you a revelation of his grace. I pray that tragedy such as mine would never befall you.
I have no enemies, only friends I have won over yet by God’s grace.
I will continue to live out the adventure God has for me as I live in wonder while I wander!
Much love to you beloved friends.
*PS. I will be republishing my first book, A Ragamuffin Saint: The Messy Journey of a Dusty Disciple soon. It will be coming out in a hardcover format as well as being available on Audible. I'll keep you posted.
Hear me out.
There are times where I have felt very alone, very isolated, and missing my family. My family composition has changed so dramatically over the last year.
When my wife died (7/19/2021), my best friend died too. That's a lot for a guy to take in.
I felt lost, alone, and dissociated from the internal reality of my grief. I tried on a new life, that God hadn't called me to, one that left me feeling hollow and empty, like an act put on by a burned out actor who lost faith in his craft.
Recently, things have changed. I made bold choices. I went with God. I stepped out of an illusion and fantasy, into actual reality. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
I hope you're tracking with me.
Every experience, big and small, is an opportunity for learning, and I seem to learn best in the laboratory of life itself.
Professionally, I've helped hundreds of families over the years walk through grief and bereavement pastorally. I've done so with grace, love, empathy, wisdom, and tenderness.
None of that pastoral experience guided me in my own bereavement. I was lost, angry, and broken. For months I lived as an imposter, locked in a prison of my own making, not God’s creation.
I have come back to life. I've come back from death, God is raising me to a new life and a new life in him.
Even though my amazing daughters have left the nest, and my late wife has graduated to Heaven, it is well with my soul.
I am reconnecting with old friends, and making new friends. I am deeply connected to God. I've connected with my new church and pastor. I'm loving the recovery meetings I'm attending.
So, here is the point:
I no longer feel alone.
Much love to you beloved friends!
As I work through feelings of grief and loss over the tragic death of my late wife Cally, this morning at church God spoke the following words to me.
“Jeremy, you're entering a season of renewal and revival. I will restore what the enemy has taken from you. I am filling you with my presence, and I am reviving the dreams I placed in you long ago. I am filling your lungs, breathing my life into you. You will dream dreams, you will prophecy, your words will be my words to bring healing to the hurt, restoration to the broken, and hope to the hopeless. I am releasing you into a season filled with joy, peace, and abundance. I want you to enjoy life my beloved son, enjoy your friendship with Jesus, and insanely fun belly laughter with the Spirit. Pay attention, I am doing a new thing in you!”
This is a powerful word of knowledge downloaded into heart by God this morning. I am so grateful to hear from God after a season of not feeling like I was really hearing his voice.
Praise the Lord, I am finding hope and healing in Jesus name!
I will continue to walk down the healing path that God has set before me. Making new friends, connecting with old friends and witnessing the beautiful new life he has set before me.
We don't get to choose how people perceive us. I also believe that we’re not responsible for their assumptions about us or the lives we live. We simply do not have that kind of control.
That's why I've stopped trying to control how others perceive me. I'm tired of trying to look good without feeling good.
I think I have the right to have human moments too. Authenticity is better than imposter syndrome, even if it contradicts people’s unrealistic perceptions or expectations of me.
If you’ve ever been in any kind of leadership role, then you might agree with the statements I made in the paragraphs above.
Everybody excels at something, and everyone is a leader in some large or small way. We naturally look towards leaders because they show us an example of a way of thinking or living that is attractive or appealing. As a result, we often put them on a pedestal.
The bigger the pedestal, the harder they fall. You can hear the thud they make when they hit rock bottom. It's disappointing.
Let's keep our focus on Jesus.
The best leaders don't know they are leaders. The best leaders excel at serving others. So, serving others equals leadership by my math.
Here is the question I have been pondering:
Do leaders have permission to be human?
Think about this:
Leaders face a lot of scrutinies. But, because of the visibility related to their leadership role, they bleed publicly when they're wounded by life. What I mean is this, they may have lived a squeaky clean life before the tragic event happened in their life. They may have lived a life that checked all the right boxes and followed all the rules. But, when tragedy strikes, they make confusing choices that contradict the wisdom of the life they’ve previously lived. When they come to their senses, their emotions, their regrets, and any other pent-up emotions come leak out of them like blood from a wound.
Will you be there to support, like they were there to support you in your 11th hour of need?
When caught up in the suffering and trauma of their tragedy, leaders find themselves feeling alone, abandoned, misunderstood, and perhaps even let down by God. So, in their desperation, they allow the intense grief and emotions they're feeling to override their faith's logic and wisdom. The aftermath is usually embarrassing and humiliating.
What can you do to make it safe for them to come out of their shame and trauma?
I'm glad you asked!
Be sure to remember that spiritual leaders are human too. They make mistakes that can let you down, so don't put them on a pedestal. All attention and praise belong to Christ and Christ alone. Christ is the only one who will never fail you or let you down.
PS. God gives you permission to be human (me too).
There is a statement I remember hearing in regards to the old pharisaical and self-righteous practice of pointing out someone's sin or mistakes while ignoring their own. It's called “polishing your halo.” I've heard people refer to it as “wearing your halo too tight.”
Have you ever done that? I regret to inform you that I have.
It’s a fact that the righteous and the unrighteous are both capable of acting self-righteous when making judgments about others.
I think we’ve all done it. We’re all guilty of pointing out the sin in someone else while downplaying our own. I'm guilty, and maybe you are too? That's between you and God.
Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 7:5. He talked about removing the splinter from your eye before pointing out the plank in someone else's eye. I call it “plank eye syndrome.”
What we know to be true by faith must also be understood through the lens of faith-informed psychology if we are to help people who are struggling. This doesn't preclude the supernatural work of the Spirit to bring healing, it all depends on your relationship with God. When we do something wrong, whether overt sin or a failure to exercise spiritual discernment, it is God’s grace and forgiveness that restores us, not the idle gossip and judgment of religious-sounding busy-bodies.
For example, how often do prayer chains morph into gossip chains? I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it. I won't participate in it.
With all the latest research into trauma and how it affects the brain, it is clear to me that many of the choices we make that blow up in our faces are less in the category of sin, and more in the category of compromised judgment due to variables released a tad to poor mental health. It doesn’t rationalize or justify making poor choices while under emotional duress, it merely explains it.
I’ve learned the following facts throughout my life and ministry:
The church needs to follow the example of Christ in dealing with those who’ve experienced trials, trauma, and tragedy in their life by not judging them, but forgiving and restoring them.
There will be a time in each of our lives when we need grace and understanding from others. So, lets be sure to extend it on the front end, so we can receive it on the back end (in our time of need).
Grace and peace to you my beloved friends.
PS. You might’ve noticed I changed the name of my blog to The Rugged Grace blog. I did that due to what God is showing me about his grace. I’ll explain more in a future blog post.
In my journey of growth and healing after a significant loss, I am relearning the importance of giving my heart a voice. I mean to say that it's easy to deny your pain, especially when you feel like you are nothing but an inconvenience to others. It’s not true, of course, but it isn't an uncommon feeling in the bereaved.
If you are grieving or struggling with anxiety, PTSD, or trauma, you must share what you feel with someone you trust.
Trauma digs up a lot of painful stuff in us. Stuff that we’d rather not acknowledge about ourselves.
Things we could've should've, or would have done, had we had more time.
We cannot afford to keep “shoulding” on ourselves. That is why I had to stop.
When people are so overcome by grief and loss, some make pretty impulsive decisions that further complicate their bereavement journey. We are all vulnerable when caught up in the intense emotional sting of grief and loss.
It is easy to hate yourself, avoid others, and just want to disappear altogether. There are many defense mechanisms triggered when dealing with traumatic events.
Yesterday when I was scrolling through my FB memories, this post from last year came up.
“What if everything we hated about others, is the very thing we denied the existence of within ourselves? How often do we project our own insecurities, hang-ups, and hatred upon others? All we need to do is look in the mirror, and begin to forgive the person we most hate. That is how you destroy the greatest enemy of the soul.”
As I immerse myself in the work of exploring past trauma, triggered by recent grief and loss, the above-quoted words are taking on a new meaning for me.
For many years I was overly worried about what others thought of me. What I was doing was projecting my insecurities on them, and then obsessing over making sure they had a good opinion of me. Too often I've worried about what others thought of me, rather than focusing on what God thinks about me.
God's opinion is the only one that counts. And that's a game changer.
In the grief journey, I am now taking I am working on being vulnerable, Letting down my guard, and getting in touch with feelings I used to deny.
I am also reading several books, listening to podcasts, and meeting with professionals who specialize in treating complex grief.
I am feeling the joy come back, and my zest for life is filling in the low points in my soul. I feel alive again!
Have a wonderful day my beloved friends.
If you've followed my journey, or you're just that bored with your own life, then you'll know that my daughters and I have been through some major changes in the last 6 months.
For those that have prayed, I say thank you, to those that have talked, well, thank you too.
I am now living in Minnesota full time after being in Oregon on a rather interesting 4-month adventure (I will leave those details private).
It feels good to be home.
They say that change imposed is change opposed, in most cases that is likely true, but not mine. I saw an opportunity to correct a major mistake, and take back my life. It reinforces my belief in God's providence.
I am starting a new job on Monday, looking for a new home, and reconnecting with friends and family. I have to tell you that I feel better than I have in a long time.
After Cally’s death, it was the most difficult season of my life. I had lost my best friend and had to deal with the grief, trauma, and tragic fallout of a bereaved and bewildered family.
In my grief, I made regrettable choices, but those choices have been transformed into lessons learned. I think it's important to be a student with your own experiences so you can learn and grow from your mistakes.
As I put the past behind me, and embrace the life in front of me, I am feeling optimistic, and hopeful about the healing work the Spirit is orchestrating in me.
I am grateful for the many friends who have offered me a listening ear, and offered their sage advice. I love you and appreciate you.
Today I know:
I just want to say thank you to everyone who is praying for me, and showing me grace while I grieve.
I send my love.
Allow me to share a few thoughts on forgiveness.
God's forgiveness is extravagant. I don't know how else to describe it. What Christ has done for us exceeds my capacity to understand it.
His sacrifice has advanced my life further than any self-sacrifice ever could. When I've messed up, like royally screwed up, God already knows and has already unleashed his forgiveness upon me. it leaves me stunned.
God's forgiveness in full force is fierce.
Here are the facts:
Life is so good when God can take what the enemy meant for our destruction and make it conform to his purpose.
Life gets better every day!
Trauma-Informed Faith: As I learn more about the impact of trauma on my life, I am also learning about how it has affected my faith.
I hope these thoughts inspire you. -JE