A couple of weeks ago I shared with you my thoughts and feelings regarding the recent passing of several people in my life. If you haven’t had a chance to read My Shouting Match With God, you can find it here.
I’ve had some time to think and reflect over the past couple of weeks, so I’d like to share a little bit of my takeaway in hopes that perhaps you can find something worthwhile to glean from it as well. If not, well…at least I’ll feel better having spewed my thoughts and feelings in writing once again!
During one of the funerals I attended, the pastor said something pivotal that began the process of shifting my mindset. Here is the first part of what he said: in times such as these, times when a loss is so difficult to wrap your brain around and it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, it’s easy to focus on the unknowns – “Why did this happen?” “Why him?” “Why now?”
Like I mentioned in my previous post, I don’t think our human minds are capable of comprehending those types of answers, which is quite possibly why, even though he could, God does not often give us that insight. As our pastor said last Sunday during his sermon, our faith must be placed in God, not in an answer. And besides, God doesn’t owe us an explanation. He doesn’t owe us anything. Just like when you were a kid and your parents told you something, the “Because I said so” answer has to be sufficient. And just like it was with your parents, you might not understand his reasoning, but you know it comes from a place of love.
Going back to my takeaway from the funeral – the pastor said that rather than focusing on the unknowns, we are better served by focusing on what we do know.
Here’s an analogy of what happened next inside my head had it been projected on a screen for all to see: Oprah was in the chair next to me, she leaned in and in that know-it-all voice of hers, said: “That’s what we call an ‘Ah-ha’ moment.” I smile and pause and then the music from those old public service announcements from my childhood would play, (duuuh ding) “The More You Knowww” as the rainbow graphic and yellow star slide into the frame.
It was a game-changer for me. Of course! Focus on what I do know! Remember back before Al Gore invented the Internet and if we wanted to know something it took an act of Congress to figure it out? It would take trips to the library, phone calls to distant relatives, skimming through real-live books and still, you might only manage to get a half-answer to a burning question. Remember how it would drive you absolutely nuts to not know what you were seeking to know? That’s the way it can be when trying to figure out the “unknowns” of a bad situation. You can focus so much of your energy on trying to figure out “why” and playing the “what if” game that you miss out on the important things; you miss out on the knowns.
My “Ah-ha” moment that day provided a sense of clarity in an otherwise blurry couple of weeks. I was like a newborn animal that was starting to open its eyes and see a little more clearly with each passing day. I realized my energy would be better utilized by focusing on what I know for certain, rather than on being angry with what I may never fully understand. So here’s what I have tried to focus on these past couple of weeks:
I know I will see Richard and Paul and Marcos again one day and it will be more joyful than I can possibly imagine. I know I will see countless other souls that went before me as well, including the infant son my husband and I lost nearly six years ago, and I will get to spend the rest of eternity in his presence. Knowing those things brings me indescribable joy and peace.
I know Richard and Paul and Marcos left lasting legacies on this earth and it is our responsibility to share their stories; to make sure generations to come get to benefit from their lessons like we did. Knowing that their stories and life-lessons will continue to help others also brings me great joy.
I know the ones left behind to deal with such sudden and tragic losses need their friends, family, and community’s support not only now, but throughout the years as they navigate the road of life. There will be days when the burden seems too heavy; days when the loss is simply overwhelming; days when they seem okay on the outside but inside they are a wreck. There will be days they just need an ear or a shoulder or a hug, and days when they need a meal or a cup of coffee. There will be days they want to laugh and share memories and other days when it’s just too painful to talk about, when all they want is space and privacy. And they will always need prayers. I know the loved ones left behind will have needs and I know God will meet them in his own way and as he sees fit.
I know we live in a community like no other. It might sound like an oxymoron, but I believe we are an extended community that reaches across the country and spans the globe. When a fellow Artesian is hurting or in need, prayers go up from all over the world; phone calls, texts, and emails pour in; food is provided, money is donated, and visits are made. It’s one of the best parts of living in Artesia, whether currently or at some point in the past. Knowing I am part of this community helps me cope and yes, brings me joy.
And lastly, I know God never leaves us the same as we were when we went into such life-changing situations. He refines us, he reveals in us resilience we never knew we had, and we come out stronger than we ever could have imagined – maybe not overnight, but eventually. That much I know from experience.
It is my sincerest hope that if you are struggling with a loss or grappling with the unknown, you will redirect your energy and thoughts toward what you do know. I assure you, it will change your thoughts and in turn, change your life.