Why Does Loss Happen?

Why does God let us hurt? Why does He bring us people or animals to love when He knows we’re going to lose them?

Maybe because we don’t love people or animals simply because we’re going to have them forever. We love them because loving them changes us. It makes us better, kinder, healthier, more real. Even if people leave us, or animals die, loving them still makes us better.

So we keep loving. Even though we’re going to lose. Because loving teaches us and changes us, and that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to become better lovers and to learn how to be loved. So when we get to heaven, we’ll be prepared for the place where everyone loves each other perfectly.

Advertisements

A Rescue Dog Story

My beloved dog, Ziggy, passed away in a tragic accident on August 6, 2017. One of my good friends suggested that I write a letter to myself from Ziggy as a way to further my healing process from this loss. Writing the letter was so therapeutic for me. I decided to turn it into a video. You can watch the video here and read the letter below:

I don’t know why you picked me up that day. But I’m sure glad you did.

I was pretty scared at first, I hadn’t had the best experience with humans before you.

But you were different. I’d never had anyone talk to me like you did. I could hear the love in your voice.

I liked when you taught me words so we could communicate better. I know that made you really happy.

I liked having buddy around too. He seemed like he knew what he was doing so I tried to copy him as best I could. He was a good older brother for me.

I loved running in your dad’s backyard and at the park. I never knew belonging to someone could feel so free.

We really had a lot of fun together. Exploring, hiking, and traveling. It’s crazy how we liked to do all the same things. Like we were made for eachother.

I’d go anywhere with you. I finally felt like I could enjoy myself. You made the world a lot less scary.

I loved making friends with all the dogs in your neighborhood. I could’ve played with them all day.

But I loved playing with you and Matt the most.

I know you think Matt was your boyfriend, but let’s be honest, it’s obvious he was mine. Not that I’m trying to make you jealous or anything. Those yellow and orange balls he’d throw for me brought me joy like I’d never known.

I’m glad you kept buying them when I’d get too excited and tear them apart.

By the way, I’m sorry I tore up stuff in your house. I didn’t know what to do with myself when you’d leave. I always tried to play with buddy but he didn’t want to play with me. I was just trying to show him how much fun we could be having.

I tried not to do it as much once I saw how it upset you.

I always hated seeing you upset.

I hope you aren’t too upset that I got out that day.

I thought it was going to be like that time when you and buddy went for a walk and left me behind. Remember how I got out of your car on my own and chased y’all down? I was really proud of myself. I know you were a little mad at me but I could tell you thought it was cute. I thought it’d be like that.

I realized I’d made a mistake when I got to the highway. I started to panic and then everything went black.

While I was sleeping, I talked to God. I told him I wanted to go back to you because I really liked our life together. But He told me you have other things He wants you to do, that don’t involve me.

He promised I’d get to see you again. He told me there were angels who would throw the ball for me, endless fields to run in, and other dogs to play with here. That’s when I decided I wanted to stay with Him.

I hope you’re not too upset. You made me really happy and that’s all I want for you. I think you’re going to love whatever God has planned, He’s really good at keeping promises.

The Intersection of Death and Creativity

As the saying goes, “Genius is sorrow’s child.”

mourning

Psychologists Christopher Long and Dara Greenwood recently investigated the connection between death and creativity. They asked a group of undergraduates to write humorous captions for New Yorker cartoons. Some of the students were first primed with subliminal messages of death. These students produced cartoons judged to be more creative and more humorous. The conclusion is that the inability to acknowledge and mourn loss leads to a shutdown of vital creative impulses. On the flip side, the resolution of loss allows for a fresh start and renewed access to sources of creativity.

Mourning, it seems, is not only vital for our mental health but for our creative lives as well.

This might explain why a disproportionately large number of creative geniuses lost a parent, usually a father, at a young age. A study of some 700 historical figures found that 35% lost a parent by age 15, and nearly half by age 20. The list includes Dante, Bach, Darwin, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and more. These creative geniuses possessed not only an ability to rebound from suffering but also to transform that suffering into creativity.

Grief, Acceptance, and Grace

This past week has been a hard one. Filled with losses that don’t make sense.

A baby left in the car.
A sister’s body found outside an apartment building.
A dear friend who jumped into a lake and never resurfaced.

I think during such times of unexplainable tragedy, it’s natural for us to want to make sense of what happened.

How do you forget your baby in the car for 8 hrs.? How did you not see him on your way to work? How did your sister die? Why was she lying outside of an apartment building? Who was with her that night? How could such a good swimmer dive into a lake and not resurface? Why were there not cuts, bruises, or abrasions on his body?

What happened?
What happened?
What happened?
Why?!

I think of the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I think that they must have left out the stage of wanting to make sense. Or is it part of denial?

I think about my dear friend in his last moments. About the baby. About the sister. In that moment, just before death, when time is frozen and all is quiet, what was he thinking about? His family? His life experience thus far? Childhood memories? Did he think, “Ok I’m going to die now”? Was he scared? Was he peaceful?

Questions. Questions. Questions.
These are what we’re left with when our loved ones are snatched away from us without warning. Questions to which we likely will never know the answers. “I don’t know,” being the sole answer we must carry forth.

I don’t know why.
I don’t know how.
I don’t know.

I think how as humans it’s against our nature to admit that we don’t know. It’s against our nature to accept that we may never know. That some things will never make sense. That maybe not everything is supposed to. Acceptance.

Acceptance invites faith, freeing the chains of uncertainty that bind us to the dark. Acceptance and faith, I realize, go hand in hand. Together they form the sliver of light in our stormy sea of darkness.

Acceptance is our freedom.
Faith our guiding hand.
And grace our greatest gift.
This much I know.

Intuition

It’s a strange thing when you start to feel better after thinking that you never would.

It’s even stranger when you want to love again after losing the love of your life.

A part of you screams, “No, you can’t! It’d be a betrayal.”

But another part of you, the better part of you, whispers, “Yes. Live again. Love again.”

There is no better way to honor yourself than trusting your intuition when it whispers.

5 Things I learned From Losing My Best Friend

beauty girl cry

Three years ago on this day, and for months after, I wanted to die. I had just lost the man I’d been in love with for four years in a tragic accident. He was also my best friend. When I say I wanted to die, it’s strange because it makes it sound as if I was suicidal. But I was never suicidal. It’s hard to describe the feeling and might be one of those things you can’t understand unless you’ve been there, but at the time, my future looked so black, I couldn’t imagine life without him. Besides, I wanted so desperately to see him and was convinced he was on the other side. I only hoped to die, so that we could be together again. It was the last sort of logic that I had left at the time.

Now here I am, three years later, and my perspective is quite the contrary. It’s hard to believe that today marks three years. Three years of pain, longing, and questions but also of healing, growth and indescribable grace. I question whether we can fully comprehend the sweetness of life without first experiencing its bitterness.

Today, as I miss my best friend like always, I realize not only was it an incredibly sweet gift to do life with him, but the lessons I’ve learned since that loss remain invaluable. Here I share with you 5 things I learned from losing my best friend.

  1. There is nothing more important in life than your relationships. As Max Lucado so tactfully puts it, “When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?” We are called to love others. It is our mission. Our reason for being on Earth. And not just to love them halfheartedly either, when it’s convenient to us, for example. But to love them wholeheartedly, at all times, through all situations, no matter their actions or behaviors. This might seem like a daunting task but it’s this sort of love, relentless and all encompassing, that people most need to see. It is the kind that we need to be most intentional about giving. Develop relationships filled with love like this, and you will know what it means to live.
  2. The best things in life aren’t things. They can’t be touched, or even captured. To try is fleeting. They flutter around like butterflies, here one minute gone the next. An ever-elusive bunch. And when we grasp for them, we miss. But this is what we have hearts for. Our hearts get it. Our hearts know that the best things can’t be described with words. They must be felt. Our hearts know that the best things aren’t tangible…that these things aren’t meant to be captured or even understood; only appreciated.
  3. There are angels on earth. And they exist in your close friends and family. People are placed in your life for a reason. They’re strategically chosen and uniquely capable of holding you just how you need to be held at any given moment in time. We’re all just taking turns on this journey called life, so give love to others while you can. Before you know it, your time will come and you’ll need someone, too. It is then, that you’ll find your angels.
  4. Pain can be a good thing. The good thing about pain is that it breaks down the walls of your ego and forces you into the present – enhancing your awareness of and appreciation for all of the people in your life. When you experience deep suffering, you become comfortable with it. This allows you to empathize with others in ways you wouldn’t have been able to before. It causes you not to run from future sufferings, but to sit with them. Most importantly, it allows you to grow. The best lessons are often found when we are facing unanticipated change and loss. In those moments of vulnerability, longing, and desperation, we learn who we really are and what we are capable of. Pain is not a bad thing.
  5. Life goes on. You don’t think it will and you certainly can’t imagine it doing so, but it does. Whether you take part in it or not, life continues to go on all around you. Time waits for no one. The good news is, even if you’re deep in grief or simply feeling stuck, eventually you, too, will go on. There’s a hole inside of you from the loss and that hole never really seals back up. But that is the beautiful part. You learn to live with the gap, to embrace it. It becomes a part of you. It allows your light to shine through.

God Can Only Fill Empty Hands

Anything you hold in your own hands, you lose.

In order to use you, God must be the One to fill you. And God can only fill empty hands.

empty hands

Therefore when God gives you things in life, be it wealth, prosperity, material goods, relationships, ect., don’t waste it, don’t grasp it, don’t trust in it for security, and don’t expect it to satisfy you.

Place all that you love in God’s hands, so that He, and He alone, may be your security and satisfaction.

A Poem in Honor of Our Three Winners

This crime was different.
It’s woken us up.
An entire nation has risen
to say enough is enough.

Hate crime or not,
we may never know
but it’s brought an issue to light
that we can’t afford to let go.

This tragedy touched many
It could’ve been me, you, or him.
The guy in line behind us
or the girl at the gym.

When we focus on differences
all of us lose.
Black, white, or grey
We all could improve.

We ought to be stopping
those who perpetuate hate.
The issue only gets more urgent
until it is too late.

We must stop the media
who pits us against them
and the psychotic extremists
who really just need a friend.

See, not one of us knows for certain.
All we have is our beliefs
and they’re as precious as jewels,
even to faithless thieves…

Who try to steal our homes,
our loved ones, and our rights.
Peace or domination,
both are worth the fight.

But when you strip away religion
all that’s left is the Truth.
Our God is your God
and Love is our proof.

When Life Lessons Come Full Circle: A Personal Story

I’m an over achiever and a go getter. There’s a frantic, nitpicky air coursing through most of what I do. When I lived in Los Angeles, I shared an apartment with a wonderful free spirit. We contrasted well with her calming, almost floating presence.

I’ll never forget when she turned to me one day and asked, in her innocent, purely curiosity driven way, “What are you going to do when you’ve done it all?”

At the time, her question bounced right off me. Back then, fresh out of college, the only beatings I endured were from myself and generally, I saw no limits to what I could achieve.

Ironically (though probably not), she was the very person with me 2.5 years ago, when my world came crashing down around me. And although we no longer live together in Los Angeles, her question has haunted me throughout the years.

Today, 29 months and numerous universe inflicted battle wounds later, her words ring more powerful than ever.

While I’m still an over achiever and go getter, I now understand and appreciate the gifts of grace and presence, agents of change that my former LA roommate wisely knew all along.

Identity in Your Idols

What do you find your identity in?

If you want to know, just ask yourself, “What am I most afraid of losing?”

In the answer, you’ll find your idol. In that idol, you find your identity.