The last time I spoke in public was October of 2013. For the next year, painful emotional trauma and ongoing physical challenges slid me into a recluse state of mind. I stayed home, stayed hidden, and my days were like my living room: blinds drawn, lights low, and doors locked. Tremendous 'loss' pushed me into a catacomb of despair.
In September of 2014, on the very day exactly one year prior when I had suffered the most painful loss I had ever experienced, I was asked to speak to a large women's group. The very group I had last spoken to a year before. The group leader had filled most of the speaking slots through February 2014, but couldn't find someone for September. And the event was only a week away.
Instant fear induced clammy skin and a sick feeling in my stomach, but I heard a voice in my boggled mind say, "It's like getting back on a bike. Just do it."
That's the Lord, I reminded myself.
I said I'd be happy to help. Usually we talk briefly about what I'm going to share, But Joyce said, "Don't even tell me. Just speak on whatever you feel led to speak on." That was a wide open slate to fill. So I started to pray and think and talk to God in my head. Within a minute of accepting the offer to speak, one word appeared in my mind like a infographic on a billboard, "LOSS."
Oh, Lord, loss? Please, this is a nice group of ladies. It's a cute luncheon. I know they want a biblical topic, but why loss?
For the next few laborious days, God was relentless ... loss was the topic. I fought the idea until I realized something very integral--the event was scheduled for September 11. The 13th anniversary of the attack on New York City. It made sense. And I knew I had a way to open my topic. But how? Why? and how do I allow this to relate to a group of women from all walks of life? And, how do I bring it back up at the end?
I heard the title in my mind and spirit, "What is Loss, Really? I prayed, researched and took notes. I believed I had it together. After all, everyone has experienced loss and will continue to experience all kinds of loss through their lifetime. But my conclusion was still out of reach.
The night before, I sat in front of the TV to watch the late news. My pad and pen were on my lap. As I clicked through the channels, I saw the title of a 9-11 commemorative show on TBN, A Reason to Remember, and the title intrigued me. I watched the entire show and instead of highlighting the pain and suffering, the show highlighted the good that came of such a monumental tragedy. Saying that makes it sound like the typical religious answer to loss, "Oh, it will be okay. God will take care of you. Leave it to the Lord." I strongly dislike these lines--they're so shallow and almost selfish. An easy way to offer hollow comfort as to avoid the true depth of a person's grief and suffering.
|An act of kindness from neighbors in New York.|
After I remembered 9-11, covered all the types of loss we suffer from losing your keys to losing your loved one, and the fallout from loss, I had my answer to turn it around. A simple word anagram:
Love and Laughter
Simple? Yes. Shallow? No. Because spreading love and laughter is not the same as repetitious religious answers, quoting bible verses, or even sending a card of sympathy. This kind of love and laughter works with tangible awareness and recognition of the worth of a person who has endured loss. Letting them know they matter by real acts of kindness and not 'just' a phone call or empty offer of "Let me know if you need anything," makes an entire difference in their healing.
What is loss, really? An opportunity to be awesome human beings and better Christians by making it real and giving when you'd rather do for yourself.
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