Overcoming Loss, Part One

MY FIRST LOSS

My earliest memory of loss was Charlie. In moving back to the US after four years in England Charlie was mysteriously misplaced. That was the explanation, misplaced, I had doubts and to this day, I till do.  

Charlie was my teddybear and closest friend.

I was five years old, brokenhearted and crushed, and that’s not pulling on the knot too hard. But I soldiered on and let him go, mostly. 

teddy bear
Not me or my teddy bear, but close, really very close.

SOME LATER LOSSES 

Losses of greater proportion were in my future. I’ve known heart breaking, gut wrenching and mind numbing loss. I expect most of us have.

Some Of My Greater Losses:

  1. a stillborn child
  2. friends in fatal accidents
  3. death of family members 
  4. shattered relationships 

Losses That Were Not People

  1. a forced exit
  2. my self-respect 
  3. losing much when much was at stake 
  4. losing hope and accepting defeat 

THE HARDEST LOSSES

There is no greater loss than the one that rips your heart out, such as the sudden death of a loved spouse, the death of your child, or the gut wrenching pain of an unwanted divorce. 

men and women who have failed

Loss comes in all sizes, flavors, and stages of life. Loss comes to us all, there are no exemptions. It can so overwhelm us that we get lost in our losses. They defeat us, take away our joy, and hover over us like dark, low hanging clouds.

Will we defeat the debilitating effects of  loss or will they define us for life?

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In Part Two of, “Overcoming Loss,” I’ll address the above questions as best I can. I hope to  give encouragement and valuable suggestions laced with wisdom. 

But for now I’ll leave you with this quote from President Lyndon Johnson,

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Do you believe that? Does it work for you? Overcoming a lingering loss can seem a mountain to steep to climb. But there is hope. Don’t give up.

Look for Part Two on Wednesday morning. 

Overcoming Failure, Part Two

Winston Churchill said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

REJECTING FAILURE

Some things in life are outrageously hard and overwhelmingly heavy. It takes patience, perseverance and a “dig-deep” commitment to never give up.

We reject failure by refusing to quit.

Some examples:

  1. Earning a degree when every part of life weighs you down.
  2. Pushing through when the odds are never in your favor. 
  3. Getting up and going on when overwhelming grief fills your soul. 
  4. Piling the sand bags higher because the water keeps rising.
  5. Remaining prayerful when it feels like God has forgotten you. 

Those are examples of not giving up, of choosing not to fail.

Gene Krantz, a NASA Flight Director, wrote a book called, “Failure Is Not An Option,” about the Apollo 13 moon mission that encountered complications and had to return in a crippled space craft. All odds were against them, it seemed hopeless. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t because failure wasn’t an option

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TWO KINDS

Think of failure in one of two contexts:

  1. The failure we choose when we quit, give up, or give out, it’s our choice.
  2. The failure thrust upon us, beyond our control, outside of us, not our choice.

It’s not our choice when the treatments prove ineffective and cancer ends us. It’s not our choice when our spouse leaves and never returns. It’s not our choice when people pretend and hide who they are with devastating consequences. These aren’t about our failings, but the failings of others.

But once failure reaches into our lives we need to overcome it. 

SOME STEPS TO TAKE

Consider the Source: When failure comes try to determine its source. Is it failure you chose or did life choose it for you? It can be a tough thing to accept, but recognizing the nature of failure helps in overcoming it. 

Neither Final or Fatal: Can we accept that failure is neither final or fatal? There was a time when I believed I had failed. Nothing was going right and I seriously considered quitting ministry. But a mentor helped me to see that my problems and failures were temporary. If I dug deep, trusted and waited on God, things would turn around. Things did. Not quickly, but it happened. I realized that failing wasn’t final or fatal, and that it wouldn’t last forever. I could overcome failure, and I did!

Refocusing: One of the lessons about recovering from failure is the need to  refocus. It begins by asking: What have I learned? What insights have I gained? What goals do I have? What goals do I need to set? Where am I headed? Refocusing becomes a map to help you find the way out. Sometimes we overcome failure by looking for new success. 

Inspiration: Knowing about the failures and successes of others can be inspiring and strengthen our resolve. Looking to a higher source can lift us up and get us going. I’m reminded of Jesus. Some said the cross was his failure. Was it? Did Jesus fail? 

“Run with perseverance the race marked out, fixing your eyes on Jesus. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition so you won’t grow weary and lose heart.” 

We can overcome failure, we don’t have to let it overcome us.

Shalom