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  • Writer's pictureJenni Lien

How to Have a Self-Guided Christian Godly Grieving Workshop


You Are You Christian Podcast for women by Jenni Lien

What is godly grief? Why is it important? What does it look like — and what are some reasons to do it? This episode covers all these questions and more! And why this topic? In this episode, I share my recent experience doing a self-guided godly grieving workshop and the reasons why I wanted to. Yes, we can repent and re-surrender to God anytime. But it can be so fruitful to spend some extended time with God and really confess, repent, talk, and allow him to love us back to health. While we are human, may we not take it lightly that our sin grieves God. ❤️ Lord, help us to humble ourselves, seek your face, and turn from our wicked ways (see: 2 Chronicles 7:14) — and run right into your arms of grace!


Listen to You Are You Christian podcast for women on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Or for my reading-lovers out there (I'm with you!), the transcript is below.


On the day I prepped this podcast, which, full disclosure, was done with plans to leave some space before the release date, I’d woken up feeling a pit in my stomach and knew it really important to spend some time with God. The pit wasn’t because of an upset stomach but because of something I’d been putting off confessing because it would just take so much emotional honesty and surrender before the Lord. Which are usually my favourite things to do! There is nothing like living with joy and lightness knowing that—while we’ll never be perfect—we are walking closely with our Savior! But it had truthfully been awhile since I’d had such a session.


While I didn’t like admitting it, it was true.


And, with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit I’m sure, I made myself a big coffee, gathered some blank sheets of paper, and started processing. It ended up being a six hour process—and I really am thankful for slow, unhurried time with God. And I want to share this episode in hopes that it’s useful and practical and even bookmarkable because we’ve all knowingly sinned and perhaps we all will again. God certainly answers short prayers but I’ve experienced such blessing in spending extended time in front of God working through a more thorough godly grieving process over the years.


So whether we’re 16 or 36 or 56… Whether it’s about a relationship or substance abuse or digital addiction or lying or gossip or revenge or any other of the myriad struggles humans can face on this earth… I pray today’s episode releases practical ways to recommit to God and walk in freedom.


Emotional health Christian podcast by Jenni Lien

Let’s start with:


1. What does godly grieving mean?


2. Why is godly grieving important?


And then let’s dive into:


3. What does godly grieving look like and how can I do it?


What does godly grieving mean?


The Gospel Coalition has a great article on Godly Grief. It quotes the Heidelberg Catechism which describes godly grief as “to be genuinely sorry for sin, to hate it more and more, and to run away from it.”


The author, Pastor Kevin DeYoung, further explains,


“Too often we are simply sorry we got caught. Sorry we have to live with the consequences. Sorry we got knocked down a few notches in some people’s estimation. Godly grief is different. Godly grief doesn’t blame parents or the schools or the government or friends or the church. Godly grief says “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2).”

I also like this explanation from Pastor Taylor Jensen at Christianity.com which explains it as


“A sadness and deep emptional pain or hurt that comes upon us when we knowing sin and disobey the Father.”

Christian women podcast quote by You Are You podcast by The Yay Project

Why is godly grieving important?


I think godly grieving is important because of how holy God is. When we are distracted by worldly things, they can seem so real and more important because of how we can physically see and experience them. The holiness of God, his majesty, his power, the fact that he is real, all around us, in us, and watching our every move can feel far away… even if it’s so much more real and consequential.


When we are in a state of wanting to experience godly grief, to really spend some time understanding how we have sinned against God, don’t want to take him for granted, and want to rely on him to overcome sin and walk in his light again, friend… I think that can only come from God’s sweetness in calling us back to him.


It’s so much more natural to want to ignore or avoid that gentle nudge to repent and change, especially when we don’t necessarily want to actually change our behavior but know we need to. When I was going through this process, at one point I was writing/speaking to God and felt him ask me if I’m really ready to break soul ties. And I wrote:


“Honestly, God? It feels like white knuckling. Does my heart want to do it? Not entirely. But the heart is deceitful, I know. Is doing your will white knuckling? Your word is clear and I want to obey. And for my actions to follow you even if my emotions haven’t yet, and I trust they will catch up.”

So there are many reasons why godly grieving is important but to me, the most important reason is because we’re accepting God’s open, active invitation to return from our prodigal ways and accept his ring, robe, identity as his child.


Jesus died for us to be forgiven and redeemed. May we not take his sacrifice for granted!


Which leads us to…


You Are You Christian Podcast for women by Jenni Lien

What does godly grieving look like and how can I do it (aka what is a self-guided Christian godly grieving workshop)?


I first thought about doing a godly grieving exercise during the post-broken-engagement-ish period of 2019. A few years prior to that, I’d done a course by Nothing Hidden Ministries (NHM) out of California, related to Bethel, that had introduced me to a few practical prayer tools on how to engage with God on various emotional health matters.


Now we can talk to God at any time. More eloquent prayers aren’t better than short ones. There’s nothing magical about the prayer tools by this ministry. But they are very practical, easy to understand, and can of course be adapted to use our own language as we pray to God. But sometimes when we don’t have the words, it can be immensely helpful to have words—written by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—to speak and help us pray to God.


So after the course was over, I bought the app so I could have the prayers handy on my phone, intially only using a prayer called ‘1, 2, 3 Skidoo’ which helps us identify any ungodly thoughts or feelings that we feel coming against us and ask God for his specific help (e.g. on anger, hopelessness, self-protection, etc.) But as the post-engagement breakup period was so intense, it wasn’t a ‘pray one day and all is well’ kind of feeling but a ‘God I need you so much in so many ways every single day’ thing, and so I started exploring more of the tools including Godly Grieving.


The first thing NHM suggests we do is “Choose one issue, and fully acknowledge your pain and suffering. Don’t try to minimize the pain or find a way to ‘make it go away.’” So whether our pain is because of something someone has done against us, something we’ve done against someone else, both, or something we’ve against God… this process works for all scenarios. The purpose is giving God permission and making space for him to take us through the process and believing that “Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).


Emotional health Christian podcast for women quote by You Are You podcast by Jenni Lien

When I did the process recently, I vered away slightly from the NHM guidelines and did the following.


1. Write it all out


NHM suggests writing a letter to God describing how you feel. I felt like I was constantly talking with God so then wanted to try and get every emotion and memory out on paper. For me, I broke down my situation in terms of timeframe and then processed things week by week, talking about things that made me happy, things that made me hurt, and ultimately asking for God’s help in moving forward.


This process ended up taking much longer than I thought. I started around 9:30am and just figured I’d finish when I’d finish (and it took about 6 hours). Personally I like clearing a whole day and letting the Holy Spirit move. I’m also a deep feeler and really value time to reflect and seek God’s opinion on various things, asking him to show me his perspective on events that happened. The time required also depends on how we feel God is moving and speaking to us. Perhaps the process will lead us to a time of soaking and worship as well. Or perhaps God will give us clear breakthrough quite quickly. We can never put God in a box right, he moves in many different ways. So I suggest giving God time and then responding to the Holy Spirit.


It’s also a dialogue. As I was reflecting and documenting, there were times when I wanted to stop and reminisce. Or want to get distracted. Or question whether today was the day I wanted to surrender. Our human flesh may want to resist what’s hard and the enemy always wants us to stay away from God’s best. When this happens…


2. Worship and pray


Writing everything out was therapeutic and I think useful to grieve and let go, but there was also a lot of human emotion in there and we for sure want to make sure we’re in line with God. So bible reading, meditation, worship and prayer during this process is key. Maybe we take a worship break and then get back to writing. Or finish writing and then have a worship session. But reminding ourselves of God’s order in all this—we’re not just journalling but using it as a way of remembering and submitting specifics to God—helps keep us focused and reminds us of our why. We are children of God, God has a plan for our lives, this too is temporary, and God is with us. What beautiful truths.


3. Ask God what he wants to tell you


For me, I finished writing first and then wrote my prayer of repentance. Then I stopped, worshipped, repented, and asked God what he wanted me to know about this situation? Then I kept worshipping and waited. God often speaks to me through writing, and when I felt his Spirit move, I put pen to paper and wrote down what I felt him saying.


Here are a few things that I think can be applied to many of us, so sharing and if you feel these resonating with God, claim them for yourself.


  • My strength is in you. You are stronger than you know. I am giving you the strength to get through this. And you will.

  • My beloved child, I am with you. You’ve already run to me. You’re in my embrace. It’s OK if you want to cry. It’s OK to be upset. It’s OK to confess your sins. It will all be OK. Know I am for you, always fighting for you, always watching out for you, always here… for you. Always.

  • I love that you’ve run to me. Now let me help. Don’t beat yourself up but guard your mind. Don’t accept the enemy’s lies but call yourself my redeemed daughter. You are. You’re mine. I claim responsibility for you. I give you my love.


I also asked God to show me if I was dealing with negative things that were not from him— e.g. shame, anger, rebellion—then prayed in the opposite spirit and claimed God’s promises in these areas, and then sealed the session in the name of Jesus.


Bible quote podcast by You Are You podcast by Jenni Lien

Like in any situation where we’ve dedicated or are rededicating ourselves to God, the enemy will try and convince us it didn’t happen. We may be tempted with the same thing. Maybe we’ll even fall again and be tempted to think our prayer didn’t work, this godly grieving didn’t work, maybe that we’re powerless to change, or worse.


Let’s not believe such lies.


Look at how many times God forgave the disciples in the Bible. And do we really think God didn’t know how difficult it was for humans to stay holy? Look at the Old Testament! But it’s different now. We have his Holy Spirit as our helper. It may take time but testimonies abound on how people have overcome sin with Jesus. May we take God at his word that he is our healer and go to him everyday. What a joy it is to know we have hope.


Let’s end this episode by meditating on a few verses. Here are three that are sticking out to me today:


Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:10-13,17)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Love you guys, feel free to DM if you’d like to chat about this process any further. Happy to share and would love to connect. See you next time.


***


You Are You is a podcast for Christian women. Follow along for faith-filled encouragement on emotional health and healing! Let’s celebrate our God-given design, pursue our kingdom calling, and love God 100% ❤️

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