There are so many ways we can build a cocoon of safety around ourselves. Financial security. Friendship with safe, prosperous people. Only attempt what we have tried before and been proven good at. Make sensible excuses not to take that risk that is calling to you. Tell ourselves that a logical reason exists for the tragedy that befalls someone else.
God is good, we believe. Unless… Until…
For several years, I felt singled out for tragedy. The world stopped working according to my rules. I had thought they were God’s rules. I was angry because I had done most things right. I prayed faithfully. I trusted…believed. And yet we were pummeled with one loss after another. So many thoughts come rushing into the pain carved chasm. God is distant. Is this my fault? God really doesn’t care. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, grief- they flowed in to fill a space a loss took from me. Fear, depression, disillusionment. Life is not what I thought it was.
There are many ways to deal with loss. Give up. Escape through denial and self-indulgence. Keep walking even though you limp. I considered all of these, but I kept going, and found in time that the loss transformed both me and how I frame my world.
Transformation is not change. Change is dyeing a fabric a new color. Transformation is the caterpillar to the butterfly. The shedding of one’s old identity is a great risk, yet only then will the new emerge.
But loss is so hard. After I emerged from the fog of my own grief I realized how much loss permeates all our lives. In the past month I have had two loved ones diagnosed with cancer. Sudden unexpected diagnoses.One of them is 35 with young children; told to order his priorities because he might have 1-2 years. His wife watches their future together wiped clean and faces a dark and unknown path. A friend loses her father 3 weeks after diagnosis. Another young “healthy” mom of four watches her health crumble as her autoimmune condition worsens. A facebook friend writes about her heart failure during pregnancy and the sudden death of her unborn child.
Autism. Divorce. Genocide. Laid off. Abused. Mentally ill. Demented
Losses that touch people that touch me. We can all be found somewhere on the continuum of loss. This most painful and universal of human experiences. We fear it and spend so much effort to avoid and insulate ourselves from it. Yet somehow we find ourselves unwillingly in this crysalis. Sometimes there is redemption of loss, often there is transformation through it, but always it is hard. And I find myself in that place tonight, offering up prayers and feeling sadness for so many in my life.