The Danger of Moving On Too Quickly

Nothing can prepare you for tragedy. When tragedy comes, it’s going to mess you up. That’s why they call it a tragedy. It’s tragic. Something has gone horribly wrong. You can either be wrecked by it or you can be numb and seek false comforts that will disconnect you from the reality going on around you.

My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 46 this week. The reaching out of friends and family during this time has been incredible – few times have I felt more loved than this. And yet in so many of the messages I’ve received, there’s been this very well-intentioned theme of minimizing the sorrow, trying to explain why its all ok and why we’ll be able to move on. Again I know the intention is good, people are caring for me the best way they know how, but I’m learning that to look tragedy in the eye and be able to “hold yourself together” is one of the least genuine and most dangerous places for your heart to be.

When tragedy comes, it’s going to mess you up.

Two people whose love and care I will be forever most grateful for during this time are that of my wife and my friend/pastor, Justin Buzzard. Justin was the only non-family member whose call I took on Tuesday while I was still in shock. Justin told me 3 things I will be eternally grateful for:

  1. Death is an intruder into God’s creation and its ok to be sad about this. This is not the way it was meant to be.
  2. My job description right now is just to cry and mourn and process what I’m feeling with God.
  3. Be in the Psalms – this will give me language for what I’m feeling and keep me talking to God about it.

By the time my family gathered the next day to view my mom’s body one last time, I had apparently taken this counsel very seriously, because I was a mess the whole time. I couldn’t stop crying and at one point couldn’t even hold my own head up and had to lie in my wife’s lap weeping. I don’t know that I would say I wanted to show so much emotion to my entire family/the strangers at the funeral home, in fact I used to believe being so emotionally venerable would make me look weak so I’m sure I did not want to show so much emotion, but I didn’t have a choice. God in His grace wouldn’t let me check out, wouldn’t let me stop feeling the reality happening around me; I couldn’t stop the tears.

Moving on too quickly is dangerous to our hearts.

Before everyone left, I spoke some of my first words of the day and asked if I could pray with my family. When I opened my mouth to pray, my heart was overcome with sorrow and all I could think of was Psalm 31:9. So I began to pray “God, be gracious to us, for we are in distress..” and with more whimpering words and through many tears I found myself asking that God would not let us seek false comforts, but that He would allow us to really feel the weight of what’s happened, not moving on too quickly, but that He would let us be sad and in our sadness draw us to Himself.

And the reason I prayed this prayer with my family is I know our culture teaches us to seek false comforts.

Moving on too quickly—seeking false comforts—is dangerous to our hearts. It disconnects us from reality; it displaces God from the center of our life. This is as true in the big tragedies of life as it is in the day-to-day disappointments. When broken things happen, we can either feel the sorrow of it or we can choose not to feel – to be numb. What are common ways we numb ourselves? Though a myriad of things. For me its generally getting completely wrapped up in a TV show, for others its getting overly committed to a sports team, parenting, studying, etc. Anything we can over-focus on to distract us from what’s really going on in our lives. When we choose to distract ourselves from reality instead of taking our sadness over our hard reality to Jesus, we’re in affect saying He can’t be good enough in the midst of this and we need other things to help us be ok (the Bible calls these things idols). And our hearts grow cold toward Jesus as we cling to our idols more and more as life gets harder and harder.

On the flip side, letting ourselves really feel what’s happened leads us closer to God. The commonly held belief that the Bible is a neat religious book, filled with good people getting good things because they are good at following God’s rules is a wild misconception.  The Bible doesn’t paint the story of a God who gives you good things if you obey Him and bad things if you don’t, the Bible tells a far greater story! The story of a good and gracious King who loves to chase down runaways and give them new life with His amazing love. The Bible tells us that the love of God that’s completely one-way, totally set on us in spite of us is the good we all long for, not circumstance, or careers, or relationships, etc. A commonly used phrase around our church is “Before grace can be amazing, it must be devastating (it devastates your pride).” To this end, grief is one of the most “real” moments in life because in it we see we’re a mess and can’t keep up trying to prove ourselves to God. Our world is broken and so are we. We just need grace. Undeserved love. It’s our only hope. And when we dare to let ourselves feel the weight of this, we can truly cry out to God and ask for grace alone (Ps 31:9) and its then that His grace becomes all the more real, all the more sweet, because its so clearly in spite of us.

There’s no fear in feeling, because our feelings will drive us to Jesus. Always.

When hard things happen, you can either let yourself feel the weight of it and in your helplessness let this drive you to God or you can numb yourself and seek false comforts in other things. Numbing yourself is easy but there’s a real danger in it. The big truth I’m learning through this is Jesus doesn’t ask us to disengage from the reality going on around us but come to Him with our hardships. There’s no fear in feeling, because our feelings (when really felt) will drive us to Jesus. Always.

[Note: This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing about my mom this week – if you came here looking to read more about my mom’s life and all the things that we loved about her, stay tuned in, there will be more posts focusing on this.]



  • I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine the pain you are experiencing. Your blog was right on. Thank you for your transparency. I will lift up you and your family in prayer.

  • Chad, that is so beautiful and so true. I also have been able to face tragedy as it messed us up, as God has had me by the right hand….and weeping has played a big part of it..and it is very healing in it’s own way, I feel sometimes my tears are proof of Gods love for us….flowing out wherever I am and never being embarrassed of them. We are thinking of all of you and praying with you…Kathy (Kens sister)

  • Thank you for getting to the real heart of what grief is all about. You are wise beyond your years. I totally get how our well meaning friends of faith want us to “move on” at the expense of not working through the painful situations. It dishonors God when we do that and it diminishes what the loss really is to us….. no matter how large or small the loss is. I look forward to what you will write in the days ahead. You are off to amazing start. (I knew your Mom through Christian Mingle and FB. She was an amazing woman.)

  • I completely agree. I’ve been scolding myself for randomly crying, for being unable to go back to work this week, for just wanting to sleep. Then I stopped scolding myself, I don’t have to be perfect….and having no feelings is not my idea of perfection. I loved your Mom and I miss her. I, once past this sadness, will never think of her without laughing or smiling, though.

  • Chad, your post comes at a good time for me. It’s an excellent reminder that we do not need to be strong. God will be strong for us and comfort us as we grieve through His grace. The prayer you gave when we said goodbye was earth-shaking. I witnessed the Lord speaking through you and giving a gift to all of us. It was clear to me that you had no idea what you were going to say, yet the words were said, and grace was felt. Thank you for helping me to open my heart and be more aware. I have witnessed the power of the Lord this week beyond all the days of my life previously. I am humbled.

  • Chad you are an inspiration to me in more ways than one. I needed these words when I lost my mom. You are a gift to us all. Take care and We Love you!

  • Chad..thank you for being so honest and open about your personal feelings and grief. My heart is filled with so much love for you and Karen as you go through this tragic time relying on God and listening and clinging to his truths. Love and Hugs, Patti

  • Hello Chad, this is kevin, Karen cousin probably do not remember me though we met once when you were about five, kind of a funny story for another time, me and your mom laughed about it a few months back, lucky you were wearing those little cowboy boots… Anyway I enjoyed your blog and am looking forward to more… Been going through pics of your mom and you guys, incredible how much I can see your mom in you………………

  • I lost my infant daughter last year to a genetic disorder, and I have also experienced the “look on the bright siders,” as I like to call them. I did my own blog post a couple of days ago about how grief can be beautiful. I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking that.

  • Thank you for this beautiful and moving blog. I’m very sorry for your loss and am glad you’re feeling your grief and turning to Jesus for comfort. God bless you.

  • Reblogged this on substance over shadows and commented:
    This week three years ago, my mother-in-law passed away (what seemed to be) out of nowhere. Though it didn’t surprise God, it surprised me. Chad and I had been married just over 4 months and we were about to close our failing business (our first major failure individually and together). Marriage had been hard and there was a lot we had yet to work through in our relationship… and then this hit. As I reflect on my MIL’s life this week, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reblog this post from Chad. I hope it reminds you as it reminded me of how important it is to grieve well.

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