I have departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith. I found out recently that my 32-year-old nephew took his own life. I hope you will indulge some reflections on grief and loss. This is dedicated to the women in my Cross Points Church group who embody the principals of living and loving openheartedly! Thank you ladies!
There are days that remind us poignantly of the fragility of life. The death of a loved one is like an unexpected gut punch that leaves us doubled over, unable to breath. We find ourselves holding the hand of someone who is so overwhelmed, all they can do is stare blankly in disbelief. When loss comes, we come face to face with how tender the cord of life really is. How easily it is cut. How deeply the pain of loss cuts in return.
In those moments that leave us gasping for breath, it is all too easy to run to a dark place. A place where we can pull the covers over our heads and wail. A place where fear whispers that any life can be pulled away without a moment’s notice. The tenuous nature of life and the pain of death, especially a death of one so young, can lead us to believe that the best thing we can do is to pull in and shield ourselves. We may want to gather those we love close and build walls of protection around them. After all, if we wall ourselves off, everyone will remain safe and alive. Right?!
This is a LIE! It is a false sense of security that leaves us completely vulnerable!
When we try to insulate ourselves from pain and loss, we end up isolating ourselves from the people we love. We cut ourselves off from intimacy with the people who matter the most. In addition, we lose the love, support and comfort that helps to sustain us all through the difficulties of life. Similarly, when we try to put walls around our loved ones to protect them, we cut them off from life. We end up preventing them from being and becoming what God designed them to be. We cut them off from fulfilling God’s call on their lives. This is how we lose people.
Maybe that is a small part of what Jesus meant when He said if you want to save your life you must lose it. To truly live, to love and be loved, to fulfill God’s call on our lives, we have to be willing to accept risk and loss. We have to be willing to let go of our personal, emotional safety in order to truly connect with others and share all that life done together has to give.
Being fully present and emotionally available does mean we will experience pain when people die. But the thing is, we will face that pain either way. At least if we are open, if we haven’t insulated and isolated ourselves, we will have the fullness of all we shared while they were alive. We might even be able to catch them before they fall victim to despair and suicide. *
The way we survive loss is not by insulating or isolating ourselves and those we love. Rather it is by giving ourselves wholly to others, without holding back. It’s by coming along side others. Rejoicing when they rejoice. Grieving when they grieve. When we bear each other’s burdens and truly care for the people in our lives, we build the very structures that enable us all to survive whatever comes.
Rather than building walls, we need to live and love the way Jesus did. We need to love openheartedly, authentically, and without fear. We must give of ourselves without concern for future hurt or loss. We need to love joyfully and forgive willingly. Like the good Samaritan, we should reach out to and minister to others without care for the cost or repayment. Jesus didn’t concern himself with what He might lose. He focused on living the life and facing the death to which God called Him.
This is one of the reasons I am so encouraged by the empty cross. It proves that a life of obedience to God, lived in openhearted love with and for others, wins! We need to be willing “to lose that which cannot be kept, in order to gain that which cannot be lost.” People are going to die. We cannot change that. However, if we love them vulnerably, if we give ourselves to them fully, if we open ourselves to the risk of loss, what we experience in the life we live together can never be taken away, even by death.
*We may do everything humanly possible to prevent a loved one from committing suicide and still lose them. Depression is a chemical imbalance that often requires medical intervention. If we lose a loved one to suicide it is not our fault. God is the only one who can truly save a life. If you know someone who is suicidal or need to talk to someone right away, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
© TamellaWhite 2019