Organizations are meant to be joyful, helpful, and a purposeful undertaking to join up with. In the world of Jesus followers, organizations are meant to further the work of God to extend His kingdom and His way to the world. They are a place where people unite to accomplish a common vision and common goals. As we join with an organization, we typically have great hope and joy in moving forward into the work we’ve been made for. Our hearts are lifted up with expectation. That’s why when things don’t work out as we had hoped, it can be crushing.
Let’s face it, organizations have broken places. Organizations are made up of people who are also broken and in different phases in the healing process.
Knowing this, the question becomes when our organization disappoints or hurts us, what do we do then? What do we do when systems don’t work as they are designed, either because systems are not in place or messiness comes forth and causes pain? What happens when our own pain collides with organizational pain or short-sighted world views?
May I gently suggest that viewing organizational disappointments through the lens of grief may be helpful. I find that sometimes having the freedom to name what was disappointing and what hurt can be the best place for healing and moving forward in any context. Allowing our pain to be named and experienced can bring the life we long for.
As the Global Trellis Grief Specialist, it’s not surprising that I’m talking about grief. We’ve talked about this before, simply put, grief is about loss. Thinking about loss and organizations, I made a list of the three most common types of loss you might experience:
1. An organization not keeping their word
2. An organization not able to provide what we had hoped for or expected
3. An organization not treating all members in an organization by consistent standards
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, if you have experienced one of more of these losses—and we know you have, because we’ve already established that organizations are broken and staffed with broken people—you have experienced pain.
But sometimes pain is easier to acknowledge than other times.
Why do we fight pain so?
K.J. Ramsey says in her book, This Too Shall Last, “We defend ourselves against turning toward the place of our pain, because it triggers our primal fears of being disconnected from love, security and belonging.” (Pg. 99)
From personal experience, and from spending time with others who are suffering, I’ve seen that we all hold in common that we want suffering to end. At times we are desperate at for the pain to cease. It’s also from having suffered and walked with others who are suffering that I wonder, what if pain and moving into our suffering could bring us the connection and love we long for? What if making room to name our loss and suffering, even in the midst of the messy, could bring the reconciliation and healing that we long for? Grief may be a perfect place to learn to lean into the gift of receiving love from God and then extending it to others, as well as learning to let go and forgive.
In Ephesians 3:17-20 it says:
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
Organizational pain can be a source of disappointment, even heartbreak. Organizational health may be having the freedom to name what hasn’t gone well, feeling the pain, actively living in forgiveness, and moving forward with compassion and grace towards the deficits of the organization. Is this not what we are called to as Christ followers to live “Mak(ing) every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3)
Grief is deeply painful by definition, but it can also be a wonderful tool to move into and through things. Grief is the process of allowing pain, suffering, and loss to exist and to come to an internal acceptance in the midst of it. I like how K.J. Ramsey says it in This Too Shall Last “Suffering is a place we will repeatedly find ourselves in as we journey toward the wholeness God has for us in his kingdom … Suffering is not a detour or a delay but the place where Love finds us.” (Pg. 101)
You may read this article from a place of relative organizational health with minimal loss, or from a place of great confusion and disappointment. With today being Soul Tending Tuesday, tend your soul by naming the losses you have experienced within your organization and allowing yourself to be “found by Love” in that space.
You, a loved one, or local friend experience a trauma. Now what? Enter Kierstie Ersch who will equiip you in this workshop to help with the healing process. If you’ve ever wondered, “What can I do?” The workshop will help you answer that question. Start it today.
Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash