“every time there are losses there are choices to make. you choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression, and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, something deeper…”
– henri nouwen
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i came across this nouwen passage this past week & it touched my heart in a good and deep way, and i thought in light of the last 3 church refugee videos that i would focus just a little on this issue of loss and change. one of the things that is hard about blogging (or 10 minute video conversations) is that you can never fully flesh out each and every one of these ideas. it also sort of bugs me that in many christian circles there is a weird expectation that in every sentence, every paragraph, every “moment” there are certain words expressed that somehow tie it up and make it cleaner, easier. i wrote about this a long time ago in the first year of the refuge in a post called “get over it.” some of the ideas i shared way back then came back to me this week–how certain words, hopefulness, or a good-and-clear-happy-ending makes us feel so much better. an example of this is when i say “i am angry about this injustice” it’s hard for some people to hear. but if i say “i used to be really angry but God did a work in me and now i have so much peace” then we smile and nod and feel so much better. i think it’s because many of us, on the whole, have a hard time with raw emotion and honesty. and we also have a hard time with loss and grief. i don’t think that struggle is exclusive those who are or have been part of “the church” but i do think for those engrained with churchianity it is sometimes harder because so little has been taught about what it means to live really authentically, be strongly connected & able to express what’s going on inside of us, and the art of lament and waiting.
one of the things i love most about the psalms is that so many are cries of the heart about loss, change, fear, and anger. but over and over the psalmists draw back on the peace and hope of God in the midst. and as we all know, some of them are more hopeful than others.
most all the people i know have experienced deep loss at this stage of their lives–loss of relationships, dreams, innocence, marriages, ministries, churches, health, jobs, people, and just about everything in between. the healthiest ones i know are those who are able to be honest about their loss and let their losses lead them to new places in their journey with God, others, and themselves. but at the same time, most all of us who have lost much will express that there were funky waves and seasons where anger, despair, confusion, and depression somehow set in along the way. it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, that’s for sure. it is a process, and like most emotion-human-real-stuff-of-people’s-lives, the journey is not linear. there are ups and downs and all arounds along the way. but, if we hang on, strap in, have safe places to share and good-fellow-sojourners-to-carry-some-of-our-load-here-and-there-while-we-are-crying-out-to-God-and-others-sometimes-without-words we can find a new place to live. the scars still remain. we all have our war wounds. but our losses can lead us to new places, as nouwen says, places that are wider and deeper.
today i find myself really sad about all that i’ve lost when it comes to the-church-system-i-originally-came-from. oh, how some days i wish i could just play the game and go with the flow. $!*!&^$^!(, it would be easier in so many ways. but i know that this nutty, scary path that God has me on is the one that i must continue to follow. some criticize that orthopraxy without orthodoxy is not right, and that somehow being clear about “belief” is always necessary. i really resonate with what brennan manning says somewhere in one of his books–“if you want to know what a person believes, watch what they do.”
i may have many “i don’t knows” in my faith, but i am more clear on Jesus than i ever have been when it comes to what he calls his followers to do (i’m not saying i always do it or have any of this stuff nailed down, but i am personally more and more convicted about what that really looks like, and yes, it’s uncomfortable, hard, and oh-so-counter-to-the-world-and-most-systems-and-not-only-the-religious-ones). i am also acutely aware that the Holy Spirit is alive and well, moving, changing, stirring, leading, shifting, calling people to hard and beautiful things in the midst of all kinds of crazy losses.
i do not want to be a person who lets the losses i have experienced–and am experiencing–keep me stuck in anger, depression, blame and resentment, but it’s okay to say “this is is how i am feeling, this is where i am at, this is what i’m wrestling with.” it does not make us bad, unfaithful, or losers. but at the same time, i want to be a person who allows the losses in my life to be glorious, unfamiliar, wild, and beautiful passages to new, wider, and deeper places.
and i hope the same for each of you. i am thankful for your voice here, that you take time to read, that you are trying to live despite all the weird unexpected twists and turns your life may have taken, that you care deeply about people, that you are seeking God, that your heart is stirred to live out the gospels in all kinds of wild and amazing ways, that you are willing to be honest about your losses and be open to hope & wider, deeper places.