We’ve all experienced it, you know.
It’s a reality of our broken world.
We lose jobs to the economy. We lose friends and family through misunderstandings and betrayals. We lose spouses through divorce. We lose health through illness or accident. We lose loved ones through death. We lose hopes and dreams.
So how do we deal with all this loss?
Some of us choose to open—to be real—to be fully human and stop trying to play God . . .
We sat in our circle of real yesterday, four women and one man. We’ve been meeting every other week for four years now, I think, with the goal of finding life in loss.
Our circle has wrestled with the difficult—with the pain, the tears, the embarrassment of raw emotion displayed, the anger, the disappointments, the comparison of our pain to another’s and the risk of shutting down—of shutting up. That deadly risk. And the questions . . .
Yes, we have wrestled with the questions.
They are the hardest. Trying to answer the “why” when there is no “why”.
We’ve discovered in our four years together something far more important than the answer to “why”.
We have discovered how to love each other, really.
But it’s hard.
Because we all have our imperfections. And Pride hates admitting them.
We all have our wounds. And Fear hates showing them.
We all have found Pride and Fear working in tandem to keep us hidden, to keep us from being fully loved, to keep us from being fully loving.
To find life in loss, our circle of real has had to first lose Pride and Fear. Because Pride and Fear keep us in our closets, not letting others see our dark and our weak. Pride and Fear keep us from facing our ugly and vulnerable. Ultimately, Pride and Fear keep us lonely because they isolate us from others, from God, even from our truest selves. And when the wolves of Pride and Fear have a lamb alone? Well, we all know the end of that story.
So how do we lose Pride and Fear—those wolves keeping us in a death grip?
We dare to humble.
When we dare to be humble, we dare to be real.
When we dare to be real, we dare to be loved.
When we dare to be loved, we dare to love.
When we dare to love and be loved, fear flees.
It’s the reciprocal confession of brokenness and the prayer of goodwill that heals—the truth of James 5:16.
The man in our circle who faces the thief of Multiple Sclerosis every day of his life—the man who has to concentrate on every exceedingly slow step he takes—he spoke three words yesterday . . .
“Loss opens opportunity.”
Yes it does.
Loss opens opportunity for death and for life.
We get to choose.
The power of the gospel is Jesus choosing to lose His life for a greater good—saying NO to Pride and Fear—because of love—for us. We can choose Him and His way and experience His resurrection life right here, right now.
Or . . .
We can choose another path. We can choose our own path . . .
We can deny and avoid and bury and self-medicate with a host of would-be saviors.
We can puff ourselves up, hoping to fool the world with our looks, our personalities, our intellect, our talents, our triumphs, our possessions, our oh-so-wonderful families—all the while looking like pathetic, crippled puppets tangled in our own strings to those who can see straight through us.
And when we try to find our meaning and worth and solace in the idols we love and serve?
We run ourselves into the ground and bury ourselves alive with the dirt we keep heaping on our caskets of pride and fear that we will—not—let—die.
We bury our hearts right along with our hurts and they both plead for mercy as we try to suffocate the primal fear right out of our spirit lungs by shoveling, hoping to stop their screams.
And when we’re finally six feet down—hidden, silent, no longer able to move, near death—will we then let someone dig us out of our self-imposed tomb with a shovel of love?
Do we want to keep killing ourselves with Pride and Fear?
Or do we want to open our hearts to something better, to come up from our graves, though we might not appear so clean or glossy or perfect to some?
The weathered and worn by the elements of life, the ones missing their veneers and planks, the ones you can see into and through—these are the most beautiful. They have developed character. They don’t just store up. They have opened enough to pour out.
Yes, life hurts us all, sometime or another. In such times, may we be like our circle of real—dealing with our dirt and shedding our veneers, exposing our rawest humanity to each other so we can receive and give True Love—love that heals and grows and always has leftovers to give away, no matter how big the crowd.