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Experiencing grief is something outside of our control, just how our life circumstances are not always predictable. In seven days, our school community at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (ELCA) is mourning the passing of three people, a teacher from covid complications, and two alumni in car accidents in separate incidents. Their ages were 19, 29, and 49-years-old as our community has been hit hard with facing the reality of grief.

Even through grief, we can experience joy. Our head of school mentioned this during our special chapel to initially address the death of a high school history teacher and the 19-year-old who passed away. He shared Philippians 4:6 encouraging us to see that the Lord grants peace that surpasses understanding. He will guard our hearts and minds so that we can experience grief and rejoicing at the same time.

We can rejoice in knowing that the beloved teacher (Mr. Steven Henderson) was a pillar of truth, a fearless man of God, and someone who always shared about God’s sovereignty inside and outside of the classroom. Our school community can rejoice to know that the 19-year-old (Rollins Tita, ELCA Class of 2020) accepted Christ in just one year of attending our school as his Basketball Coach helped lead him to Christ. For the 29-year-old alumni who passed in a tragic car accident in Kansas, her life is being a testimony of her faith. In the KSNT news article, the husband who lost his wife (Brooke Rees, ELCA Class of 2010) openly shares Brooke’s faith and how he knows she is in heaven. Even in death, our community of teachers and alumni are proclaiming the gospel in how they lived their lives and whose they belonged to.

While I am not directly connected to any of these individuals, their passing has deeply affected me emotionally and spiritually. Through grief, the Lord is showing me how to find peace and joy through the unexpected. Grief hits each person differently and in this current season of healing, I have learned three things:

  1. Create boundaries so you know when you can give and when you need to care for your own emotional well-being.
  2. Be willing to say “no.” You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.
  3. Have the strength to walk away from something that you love.

By confronting my own ability to give as I process grief, I made a hard choice of currently stepping away from an organization I love dearly so I can heal emotionally with the guidance of the Lord. It is okay to not be okay, to acknowledge this to my students and peers, and to find ways to regulate my anxiety and tend to my own soul to find rest and be still in the Lord.

Our nation and our society as a global community have encountered much grief in the past year. We mourn the loss of greeting friends and loved ones with hugs. We mourn the loss of big public gatherings to connect with each other. We mourn the loss of building community together as we once knew because we are navigating a new normal. As a human race, we have experienced different levels of grief during a global pandemic. There has been a heightened sense of fear as 2.5 million people have lost their lives to Covid in the world. Through that grief and fear, we have peace to not fear death. We rejoice in the fact that greater things are in store for all of us, heavenward in God (Philippians 3:13-14).

As we strain toward what is ahead, may we cling to God’s promises through fear, grief, and the unknown. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Whatever circumstances you face today as you lead your family, your schools, and your peers, may you find peace in troubling times, and may you find joy to seek God’s goodness through the valleys and mountains.

Author Grace Lee

Grace Lee has a variety of experiences serving students of all ages. She is the first Director of Diversity at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, GA, and has been in this role for three years. Grace has worked with college students in undergraduate admissions, taught 600 elementary students in South Korea as a Fulbright grantee and Korean American, was a preschool and middle school, and now serves in a leadership role at ELCA. Her strengths with diversity initiatives are event programming and creating an inclusive space for all students to feel seen and heard through the Diversity Council. Outside of Christian education, she is also the first Executive Director for Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission (KKOOM). KKOOM means “Dream” in Korean, and the organization improves the lives of at-risk youth in Korean children’s homes through scholarships and outreach. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in the North Georgia Mountains and Smoky Mountains in TN, while getting lost in time with nature photography.

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