Dealing with Loss: It Really Is a Choice
As an engineer, I want life to be clear, to fit together logically, to blend smoothly with my plans. I even feel excited about occasional problems that challenge me moderately, but with nice solutions. Neatness and order make sense to me. Some of my family would say I am a little OCD in a few areas of my life. I have routines and methods to accomplish almost every task from shaving, to packing, to addressing personal issues. One main reason for my OCD is that I hate losing anything. Whether it’s a game, my keys, or time … I don’t want to let anything slip through my fingers.
The bad news is that aging will bring the loss of many things, including but not limited to children moving out, mobility, hearing, sight, sex, independence, cognitive ability, friends, loved ones, physical hobbies, and innumerable cherished abilities and treasures. Unless we die prematurely, this path in our journey is inevitable. Even though we are powerless over some of the losses that eventually obstruct our journey, we actually have tremendous power choosing how we will react to these losses. “When you get lemons, will you make lemonade or just be a sourpuss?” sums up our options.
We might choose options like depression, an overwhelming sense of uselessness, or even worse, becoming a burden to others. We might choose anger and resentment because of the loss of control and independence. However, if we choose to dwell on what we no longer have or can no longer do, we will miss the great opportunities God empowers us to implement.
Although it is normal to grieve our losses, if we aren’t careful, grief can easily become the main lens through which we view ourselves, our future, and especially God. This distorted viewpoint will dramatically affect our functioning and decision-making. Instead, we need to choose to be thankful for everything we have had. Then we need to concentrate on the relationships, abilities, and opportunities that are still ours … viewing life and God through truthful lenses, not ones that are emotionally-distorted. God wants us fixated on Him, not on the material and transient elements of this world.
These words from Paul can be an encouragement to us as we go through loss or the aging process: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
You might think, “I’m not old, so this doesn’t apply to me, but I’ll pass it to an old person I know.” Well, the way you handle getting older is determined by how you have “practiced” handling loss during your life between the ages of 10 and 45. So practice well now, and you will be prepared when the bigger, more predictable losses come faster and deeper.
Today, identify some losses, or something you long for. How does this “loss” affect your view of yourself … God … and life? Are your views based on fact and truth … or are they distorted? Try to keep the distorted feeling, that entitled mindset, from affecting your present and your view of the future. WITHIN REACH has helped many see clearly. Focus on thankfulness for what you do have. Concentrate on Jesus, knowing that He will enable you to serve Him in and through the adversity … and to bless others. Whether you have an attitude of thankfulness and focus on what you have, or you have an attitude of entitlement, focusing on what you lost is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, help me to dwell on the positive during this season of my life … the good, not the bad; what I can do … not what I am unable to do. Help me to be thankful for the time I have had it, and not be hurt by losing it. Guide all aging parents to focus on the positives in their lives, and guide us younger ones as we practice these skills now. Help me be a Light to others when loss comes my way. I thank You that we can pray in the name of Jesus and do all things through Him; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. Deuteronomy 30:19,20
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