Sailing on the Sea of Loss

From A GRACE DISGUISED: HOW THE SOUL GROWS THROUGH LOSS by Jerry Sittser who lost his wife, 4 year old daughter and his mother in a car accident.

“Loss creates a barren present, as if one were sailing on a vast sea of nothingness.  Those who suffer loss live suspended between the past for which they long and a future for which they hope.  They want to return to the harbor of the familiar past and recover what was lost.  Or they want to sail on and discover a meaningful future that promises to bring them life again.  Instead, they find themselves living in a barren present that is empty of meaning.  Memories of the past only remind them of what they have lost; hope for the future only taunts them with an unknown too remote even to imagine.  Memories of the past do bring joy, but it takes time for memories to comfort rather than torment.

Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness.  Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being.  It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs.  In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves.

But in coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God.  Our failures can lead us to grace and to a profound spiritual awakening.  This process occurs frequently with those who suffer loss.  It often begins when we face our own weaknesses and realize how much we take favorable circumstances for granted.  When loss deprives us of those circumstances, our anger, depression, and ingratitude expose the true state of our souls, showing us how small we really are.  We see that our identity is largely external, not internal.

Finally, we reach the point where we begin to search for a new life, one that depends less on circumstances and more on the depth of our souls.  That, in turn, opens us to new ideas and perspectives, including spiritual ones.  We feel the need for something beyond ourselves, and it begins to dawn on us that reality may be more than we once thought it to be.  We begin to perceive hints of the Divine, and our longing grows.  T our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe who, despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely.  In coming to the end of ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves.  We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being.”

We need someone greater than ourselves to help us forge a new identity.  God is able to guide us on this quest, to help us become persons whose worth is based on grace and not on performance.”

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