Category Archives: loss

Between A Rock and a Hard Place


How many times have you heard yourself using this phrase? I know I have used it and heard it umpteen thousand times over my lifetime. Everyone knows what it means. It means stuck, with seemingly no where to go. In actuality, it may mean choosing between losses: which one do I want to suffer.

Some feel that the upcoming presidential election offers that choice. Others feel that this is what their financial situation presents. Many times we may feel that we are put in this position in our relationship or lack of one.

So what do you do? What can you do?

First, I think  you must accurately assess the situation. How much is reality and how much is fear. Anxiety can fuel a pretty intense imagination. It can take you down a road that dead ends at the “worst possible scenario.”

Second, determine what you actually have control over. Is there any element that is not outside of your ability to influence? Taking some sort of action is usually better than waiting for the circumstances to catch up with you. Sometimes just facing the problem can lessen the overall damage.

Third, adjust any negative attitude that is getting in the way. Are you stuck because you are in a power struggle with someone and your pride is holding you back from progress? Is there a lack of forgiveness on your part? This is common in family feuds. Members of a family can be too stubborn to reconcile even though it is quite possible. No one wants to make the first overture. It is always “You first”. Humility is a powerful healing agent.

Fourth, is God last? When all else fails, do you then think about prayer? Perhaps this should be the first order of business instead of the last. Do you think of prayer as weak or ineffectual? Have you ever even given God a chance? Do you say you believe, but doubt overwhelms you? Trust me, you are not alone.

Sometimes grief is the only choice. Yes, there are times when you are completely powerless. No matter what you do you cannot affect the outcome. This is where faith in God is priceless — trusting in an ultimate plan predicated on his love for you. 

I wish I could turn the clock back 25 years. Getting older doesn’t thrill me (not getting any older doesn’t thrill me either). The cold hard truth is that I am powerless to get back the years that have passed. It is not so much about regretting those years – they have been good. It’s realizing that some opportunities are time sensitive and require youthful energy. I must grieve that reality.

What gives me hope is knowing that I have the choice of my attitude towards the things I cannot change. Sort of like the serenity prayer.

Embracing Confusion

Right now I am going through a major transition in my life – and it’s a good thing. Everyone around me is happy for me. It’s one of the goals I have had my heart set on for quite a while. But in the midst of this seemingly joyous time, I have some really perplexing feelings: loss, aloneness, anxiety and sadness along with relief, excitement and awareness of the expanded opportunities.
What in the world in going on in my head?
The word “confused” shows up so often in counseling. Although it may mean “I don’t understand”, more often it means I am in a dilemma and I don’t know what to choose. I must take a position but I am afraid to make the wrong decision. It can also mean that there are two seemingly opposite beliefs in play.
“He says he loves me but he keeps saying or doing stupid things that hurt me. What’s up with that?”
“She says she wants to support me, but all she does is criticize or blame me and I feel anything besides supported. Which one is it?”
The truth is probably that in both cases there is no intentional ill will. He does love you, but he fails to see how unloving some of his behavior can be. She does want to support you, but old habits die hard. It’s probably a family of origin issue. From a spiritual standpoint, the flesh can be pretty strong and difficult to manage.  
Confusion often gets us stuck. There does not seem to be a “right” answer. Am I happy or am I sad? Can I be both at the same time? How can I be a friend of God in my spiritual self, but an enemy of God in my sinfulness?
The truth is that peace may only come as we are able to hold both positions at the same time, knowing that we are complicated beings and capable of dealing with complexity. I am feeling a loss of a former career even as I am excited about what lies ahead. What do I need to let go of in order to not be held back? Are there things I have missed that are important, or am I worrying too much? The truth is that I probably have missed things along the way, and I am too anxious about it too. 
What really helps is to take myself out of the center of all these issues. Frustration and confusion makes it all about me and I need to shift my perspective and try to see things differently. Do I consider other people? Can I rejoice and be grateful in all things, not for the pain but because I am loved by God?

Losses and Limitations

About a week ago my back gave out. That hasn’t happened for quite a while, but every time it does it gets my attention. It’s like adding 30 years to my age – bad years. All of a sudden my 6 foot height turns into 5’ 6”. Also, my normally cheery attitude loses some height. And it’s not just the pain that bothers me – it’s the loss of control. The things that I regularly do become difficult or impossible. The plans that I have made are unexpectedly put on hold and I become more dependent on Nan – and it bugs me.
However I discovered that it wasn’t all bad.
Eventually it taught me to embrace reality and surrender what I couldn’t change. And when I did that my attitude changed back to something a lot more peaceful. Acceptance is a powerful antidepressant.
There are things that we must fight back against. Sometimes people put limitations on us that we shouldn’t accept. And when those are simply the opinion of an uninformed or harsh critic, we should resist. I had a friend who was told that as a result of a car accident, he would never walk again and be forever confined to a wheelchair. This man, a U.S. Marine, found that he was being grouped with people who “typically” don’t recover from his situation. Through persistence, he made a full recovery.  
But when reality is the critic, we do well to embrace her warnings.
I had a friend who blew out his finances from bad investments. Instead of accepting the bad decisions and loss that resulted, he began gambling with further “investments” using borrowed money. His goal was to get back the lost money before his wedding day. He lost that too and in the first year of marriage the unhappy couple (and unknowing bride) had to declare bankruptcy.
I also heard a woman on the radio tell of her journey from multimillionaire to living on Social Security alone. When her husband passed away, she was unable to manage their assets and eventually lost everything. But what surprised me was that she said she had never been more at peace. The result was a simple life that left her free to experience God in a whole new way, unencumbered by the complexities and anxieties of managing wealth, a large home and an overflowing schedule.   
Accepting losses and limitations can be really hard. It means we have to face our fragility and powerlessness. It means that we have to be dependent on our Creator and trust that He is good, even when we do not understand why bad things are happening in our life. 

It might be that you are facing an insurmountable obstacle right now. It could be a marriage partner unwilling to get help or a health problem that you cannot change. It could be adult children that are making horrible choices or a job situation that can only get worse. Whatever it might be, the degree to which you accept what you cannot control will be the degree of peace that you will be able to experience.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.