One of my fears about moving to Peru stems from what I know about myself now. I haven’t always handled loss very well.
Occasionally I think I may have a grasp on the outward expression of my sense of loss. I can look happy, contented, at peace. But sometimes there is quite a war going on inside.
I have not known great loss. Not really. I know this intellectually, but the greatest loss I’ve ever known is my greatest loss. In other words, my heart can still feel current losses deeply even if there will be greater losses ahead.
My sense of loss can be triggered by random memories, by seeing someone experiencing what I’ve lost, by reading or hearing about a similar circumstance. It’s unexpected. Like a cloud, my grief blots out the sun, and I’m left cold and in the dark, unable to see the good around me.
And that’s the fear. I know I will be giving up many things: physical things, conveniences, relationships, skills, securities–whatever. I am afraid that while I’m willing now to give them up, the debilitating power of loss may hold me back from being who I should be in the next chapter of life.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be this way, but when I hear of siblings who get together for supper or go on a hike together or some other sibling thing, I am covered with a wave of sadness. I suddenly feel all alone in the world because my siblings are hundreds of miles away, and I only see them once every year or two.
When I see families with babies, I feel incredibly sad sometimes because I think about the babies we already have in heaven that I never got to meet.
When I see a couple of close buddies laughing together, sometimes my heart breaks thinking about relationships lost or broken in my life.
The examples could go on. But I’m sure you’ve already wondered, why is he focusing on that? He has so much to be thankful for!
This is true. And about the only remedy for dealing with my sense of loss (and I haven’t shared my worst ones with you) is to be thankful for what I have. Maybe that sounds like a platitude, and I suppose for people who don’t have Jesus it might be. But for me, it’s real.
“I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
Psalms 9:1-2 NKJV
When I think about what God and Jesus gave me on the spiritual level, it’s beyond awesome. If I take the time to actually count it all, it’s overwhelming. But then I can go to the physical level, the stuff, and I’m even more blessed.
God has always provided me with a precious and supportive church family. I’ve never had to be alone; there have always been loving people who want to share life with me. That’s priceless.
I have five and a half children now, and our hands and hearts are full with them. They love us dearly, and we them. There is never a dull moment. Life is joy.
And I have the best buddy I could ask for in my wife. It feels weird to call Stephanie a buddy, though, because she’s so much more special to me than that. Always loyal, always loving, always ready to talk and show she cares. I couldn’t ask for better.
Sometimes when the blues hit me, Steph (or one of my friends) will ask me if I’ve sung. Singing to God is another healing balm for my soul. Even a song like “I Am a Poor, Wayfaring Stranger” can start out as an expression of a mournful heart, only to turn my focus to the truth “I’m going there to see my Savior!”
“Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”
Psalms 100:1-5 NKJV
So while I may have my fears about the future (mostly to do with how I’ll respond to it) I do have everything I need to get through it. I want to continue to learn and practice thankfulness because I don’t want my pettiness to get in the way of God’s greatness.
You have losses, too, your fears, your heartaches. They hurt. You hide them well for the most part. But don’t let them hold you back from living the beautiful life God wants to give you now! Pull your eyes up from your selfish little self; turn your eyes upon Jesus and count your blessings. Sing a song to God. It really helps.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV