So much of life is about loss. Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? It can be. I have certainly found myself digging my fingernails into things I don’t want to lose. (No jokes about me trying to dig my fingernails into my keys.) In the past couple years, I have lost everything from friends to Monopoly. The big things – the friends and the near-loss of my dad this summer – have been painful beyond words. There are times where I didn’t think, didn’t believe, I could live through them. Yet, somehow I did. I remember watching my mom stand by my dad’s bedside while he moaned and groaned in severe pain from viral encephalitis. Softly, she spoke to him. Softly, her tears fell. Softly, she prayed. And the strength she exuded was magnificent to witness. This woman who depended on my dad for everything was carrying him through the dark forest. But she’ll attest that she wasn’t carrying him alone. Somehow in His amazing, mysterious ways, God cared and loved her through prayers, people and his own extra dose of peace. And she got through. She didn’t dissolve into a puddle.
I am always amazed at the ways I project into my life, into how I think it will be. And how I will crumble and die if life doesn’t go somewhat in that direction. Yet, I have now witnessed enough pain to know that even if I order filet mignon, I might be served mushy meatloaf. And you know what, the mushy meatloaf won’t kill me.
Meatloaf just needs a little ketchup and a lot of acceptance. Much like my life. There’s not a thing I can do about my husband’s multiple sclerosis, my friends’ decisions to walk away from our relationship, or my child’s grade on his latest math test. Nothing but accept that reality is what it is. That or kick, scream and yell, “I want the damn filet mignon!”
I think acceptance opens my eyes. When I live in denial, I see only a mountain face with no way up. I get stuck looking at the heights and the boulders in my way. I can’t see where I am going. But with acceptance, I start to see a path, at least the beginning, the trailhead. And each day that I learn to accept what IS, I can keep on that path and go only where I see to go — for THAT day. And the richest part of discovering that I CAN walk the terrain in front of me is that I know I am not alone. Jesus promised that he’d leave me a counselor, who I have found to be a superb traveling companion. So, I walk a few steps one day, a few miles another and before I know it I have reached a better place. A place where I can breathe better. A place where I feel lighter. Where I feel free.
I do not mean to equate a death of a loved one to freedom for us. It can be an awful, distressing burden to the daughter who misses her mom, to the spouse who wasn’t ready to face parenthood alone, for the father who never got to take his son on that fishing trip. I am talking more of the kind of loss that becomes necessary for us to be free of the things which entangle us. Loss that ultimately allows us to experience humility and not humiliation. Loss that requires us to let go completely and trust God to do what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He always sends me what I need. An extra dose of His spirit perhaps. A brother or sister who cries with me. A song or a poem that acts like a healing balm for the wounds. Yet none of these things heals the wound immediately. They’re part of a bigger picture, one I have had to reframe many times. A picture that may not be what I envisioned but somehow ends up being more beautiful because I could finally see its beauty. Finally accept its beauty. Beauty that includes meatloaf.