Secret Sins of my Grieving Heart

Image of a woman staring out a window.

Confession is good for the soul. Believing this, I confess to holding onto hidden and toxic attitudes that grief exposed. I’m super uncomfortable with public confessions even though I have felt compelled to share. While my confession doesn’t hold a comprehensive list, this process is both hard and humbling. I’d rather present the best version of myself. My advice: If you’re going to skip reading a blog, this would be the one to leave unread.

My Experience with Prayer

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I unequivocally believe in the power of prayer. I know it to be true. Over decades, I have repeatedly experienced remarkable answers to prayer. My prayer journal—which I started in 1995—holds page after page with undisputable evidence to big and small answered prayers.

The responsibilities and cares of parenting in a challenging world caused me to clock a gazillion hours praying for my son and daughter. No surprise there, right? To the core of my being, I’ve always known that God loves my kids even more than I do. After all, Jordan and Chantel were—and continue to be—gifts from Him. So, with great confidence I faithfully asked God to protect my kids from danger. Specifically, protection from the kind of physical danger which would result in a premature death.

Then the unimaginable happened. The very thing that I prayed would never occur on my watch became reality. Jordan died in a workplace accident in the prime of his life. All of his enthusiasm and hopes for the future as a new husband and a recent new hire in a growing company evaporated in an instant. All the preparation for adulthood through life experiences, years of schooling and working was for naught. Jordan was gone at age twenty-three.

God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He could have protected Jordan from this accident. It wouldn’t have been too hard for God. Instead, He allowed Jordan’s accident to be fatal.

Around the same time, one of Jordan’s friends was in a terrible motorcycle accident. The bike was destroyed but miraculously, the young man was unharmed despite being thrown from the bike and not wearing a helmet. He walked away with only a few scratches and bruises.

How does one man remain protected while another dies? It is a mystery that will remain a tension in my heart and mind until Heaven.

My Confession

When my son died, I lost almost all confidence in God. The result was boiling anger. With my heart full of anger, there was no room for love. It was not a path I was willing to maintain because even in my anger, I could see how miserable it was making me. As I asked God’s forgiveness for allowing my anger to become all-consuming, He revealed that there were underlying attitudes at the root of it all.

Two thoughts that God dropped into my heart:

  1. Anyone you love and cherish more than me is an idol. Even your child, who came as a gift from me, can become your misplaced #1 priority. Elevating the loss of a child as having lost an ultimate source of your purpose and joy will not only cause you to despair but also reveal the idol. Idolatry is a sin.
  2. Your “good” behaviour and fervent prayers don’t earn you the right to demand that my actions align with your will. Remember: I am God and you are not. My ways are not your ways. An entitlement attitude—at any age—is a sin.

These insights were difficult to digest and own. But with honest reflection, I couldn’t deny them or make excuses.

Finding Perspective

What I appreciate about God is that He doesn’t point out my sins to make me feel ashamed and unworthy of His love. Rather, He knows that my ability to move forward in healthy ways is contingent on my choice to place my confidence and trust in Him.

Trust was restored when I was willing to recognize and remove the damaging roots of sin. What was the best strategy? Reflect, confess and ask for God’s help to leave the toxicity behind. This was not “once and done.” It continues to be my daily but worthwhile discipline. Why? A heart full of love for God cannot also hold debilitating anger.

Life is short. I don’t want to minimize my purpose and joy on earth by living with unresolved sin. Confession is not only good for the soul but critical to my ability to grieve well.

How about you, dear griever? Can you relate to the anger I felt?

No matter what, please remember that God’s heart is tender towards you as grieve your loved one. Choose to trust Him even when you don’t understand it all.

Cheering you on!


Picture of Shirley Thiessen

Shirley Thiessen

Author and speaker helping you bring hope to broken, grieving hearts.