Faith Self-Management

An Initiation in Grief

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It was a cold rainy night in January. I was on my way home from church after a long day. Before I could get home, I had to stop by the store to pick up some oil for my Jeep. You see this old Jeep Cherokee of mine had 312,000 miles on it and it had been making some weird noises lately. Up until this point I had been pretty consistent with the oil changes but this sound concerned me so I decided to swap the oil a bit early. I had picked up everything I needed and started the fifteen-minute trip back to my house. As  I started to gain speed when I merged onto the highway a sound came BANG BANG CLUNK CLUNK and my engine died. Luckily, I pulled off to the shoulder but once I did, I realized very quickly I had blown up my motor. My wife came and got me, a tow truck hauled the Jeep to my house. I was off shift so I didn’t have to leave the house for quite a few days.

312,000 miles of memories


I started scouring the internet for another vehicle as soon as I got home. I was a man and this was a problem I certainly needed to fix for my new marriage of two months. I had big plans to work my side hustle over my days off to offset the costs of a new vehicle… I WOULD FIX THIS. But the rain didn’t stop that night. It didn’t stop that next morning either. The flooding was so bad I couldn’t even make it to my workshop, I was trapped in my house on a day as dark and cloudy as the state of my soul, and that was no accident. I knew I needed to write in my journal but was too distracted. I did the dishes, I picked up the living room, I searched for a new vehicle on Facebook, and I checked my banking account for the third time in 24 hours to ensure none of my income had escaped in the night, anything to keep from doing what I knew that I needed to do. That’s when the words of the Father spoke to me “Justin why do you feel like everyone else’s heart matters except your own?” I had been brilliantly and kindly exposed in a single instant and immediately the tears flowed down my face. You see this Jeep was my first car and in a lot of ways, I feel like it escorted me into manhood. The engine roared, the stereo was cranked way too loud on most summer nights, and it was perfect for the many adventures I like to fill my life with. I wish I could count the tears I shed in its front seat as I wrestled with the questions I’m sure all boys do as they begin to realize just how hard this life is. I wish I could listen back on the prayers said for myself or others as I realized I could make a difference in this very dark world.  I wish I could bottle up the joy I felt tearing down gravel roads or packing up gear to go camp with my friends so I could experience it again but I couldn’t. The Jeep was gone and it felt like a little part of me had died with it.

So, I cried…

…longer than I care to admit and certainly longer than our culture would allow a “Man” to. I vented my frustrations and sorrows to God and he listened well just like he always does. I was sad but the Father was right there with his kid who was having an awful day. If I would have had my way, I would have never shed those tears. I would have never told God all the things I loved about that Jeep and I would have never experienced the love of Jesus who thoroughly understands the weight and struggle of living as a human being in this fallen world. Jesus knew good and well that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead but when he got to the tomb and saw the pain and distress that death had inflicted on a family that he loved dearly….he wept. Jesus took time to grieve and it’s safe to say this wasn’t the first time. The Bible says that at hearing the news that John the Baptist had been killed he sought out time to be alone with God. The way that Jesus lived set the example for how kindly we should treat ourselves when bad things happen. Fellas, I’m not talking about crying in your cheerios every time you have a bad day or come in contact with a person who doesn’t like you. However, for matters of the heart, it would be very wise to slow down and walk in kindness when it comes to matters of loss, disappointment, and grief. We are made to be strong and we are made to stand in the Gap when tragedy strikes, BUT that certainly doesn’t mean our hearts matter less than the people that we are being strong for. Grief needs to take place so that our hearts can fully heal, even though we have the hope that one day this loss and pain will be no more.

Grief Initiation

I know that there will undoubtedly be some guys who read this story and have experienced tragedies of the worst kind. The death of a loved one, a miscarriage, that diagnosis they won’t be able to shake, and all of those things are infinitely more significant than a vehicle. I am a young man and in a lot of ways, my journey is just beginning. I know that hard times will come as they do for us all but this is just the story of my initiation into grief, so that on the day when I find myself a man surrounded by sorrow I can choose to grieve and know that my pain matters deeply to my heavenly Father even on the darkest nights.

Justin Wells
Hammer and Spear Knives |

Justin Wells is a 20-something warrior who lives in the woods of Southeast Missouri with his new bride. Growing up in church his whole life, Jesus came after Justin's heart a couple of years ago and rescued him from the religious fog. Now it’s his goal to show other guys the truth of this wild adventure known as the gospel and how there is a real relationship to be had with Jesus. You can find Justin on Instagram and discover more about his life and his knives. Justin has also been featured in And Sons Magazine- Volume 7.

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