Manasse, my youngest, went on field trip recently with his school to an amusement park. He was so excited about it! He had a big smile on his face as he waved to me from the bus, that was packed full. Joyce had just left for London for a few days, so I had the kids to myself at home all weekend. Great fun of course, even though my boys like to see how far they can go with me. Daddy always lets them do more than Mom!
A few weeks before that day it had been Manasse’s birthday. He had put a drone on the top of his list. Actually, it was quite expensive, but I was able to find one that was affordable on AliExpress ?. We just had to wait a little longer. But, on the very day he had his fieldtrip, the package arrived in the post! When I went to pick him up at school, I told him the good news. He was beside himself with excitement and said with bright eyes: “Dad, this is really my best-day-ever!!!” I enjoyed seeing him so happy and said in agreement: “Yes, dear, you are right, this is your best-day-ever!”
Flying a drone can be quite a challenge, so I first decided to try it inside our home. That went well for a while…until it crashed into the window with a bang. Manasse was upset: “Dad! If you break it, you are gonna have to buy a new one!!!” Hmm, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. A drone is not designed to be inside four walls. We decided to take it outside, to a field behind our house that is next to a large lake.
I let the drone lift off from the grass. So far so good…until a large gust of wind swept it up and before we knew what was happening, the drone was blown away towards the water!!! And not only that, but it flew in the direction of a sailboat, with an older couple on board! Oh no! We couldn’t hit them! I hit the “panic button” in a flash, that I had used once before. However, this time that wasn’t such a good idea, because the drone came straight down…right into the water! Manasse cried out: “Daddy!!! My drone!!! Noooooooo!!!” He started to panic and cried and screamed at the same time. We made an attempt at rescuing the drone, but we couldn’t…it sank to the bottom.
Now I had to figure out how to calm Manasse…and I was completely unable to do that! This had been his birthday present and I had destroyed it! His best-day-ever had gone down the drain. It had become his worst-day-ever! And when Mom isn’t around…boy I was having a hard time! I told him I could get him a new drone, but no matter what I said, his frame of mind didn’t change. When I finally offered to bring him to the ice-cream parlor, he calmed down a little. The ice-cream helped to distract him for the time being.
Everything seemed to be okay…until I heard him crying in bed that night. At first, he cried softly, but then his sobs grew louder and louder until he was wailing in despair. Two thoughts entered my mind. The first one was: enough is enough! You have been crying about this long enough now! It is just a “thing”. The second thought I had was: he is allowed to be sad about this and he is allowed to have time to process his grief.
I decided to give him some room and called him downstairs. He was upset and in tears as he told me how sad he was that the drone was gone. I told him I understood and let him cry. “I want it back so badly, Daddy!” “That is not going to happen sweetheart,” I answered him, “and you are allowed to feel sad about that.” He cried some more, and the tears just kept flowing.
But I also saw that through his tears something beautiful happened. I saw how the sadness that he felt on the inside slowly made room for acceptance. The drone was not going to come back, he knew that now. I watched how he slowly but surely started to accept the new situation. After he had accepted it he was able to slowly open himself up to other thoughts and possibilities. A new drone? Or maybe a different present with less risks? We decided that he would sleep on it for a night. He went back to his room without crying and fell into a deep, restful sleep.
God taught me something beautiful that day. We all go through difficult times. Times that we can run from, we can stuff our feelings deep down inside of us, pretending that our feelings don’t matter, or are not even present. Ye there is only one order through which we can reach full recovery: grief, acceptance and renewal. First, we need to allow the tears to flow. They are allowed to be. By allowing grief to be present, you are giving yourself the possibility to accept the situation like it is. It is not until after that, that you can make room for the new things that God wants to give you.
When Manasse came home from school the next day, he said: “Dad, I have given it a lot of thought. I think I still want to have a new drone.” We ordered a new one right there on the school playground. I want to encourage you with our story to walk through all three of the phases in this order: grief, acceptance and renewal. Many of us skip one or two of those phases: we stuff away our grief or we look for something new to numb the pain. But I believe that we are allowed to go through these three steps with God, so we can have complete healing for our pain.