Encouragement

What to Do When You Lose … Things

by Shirley Brosius

Of all the things I gave up when I moved to an apartment, I most regret losing a large oval-framed picture of my mother and her grandmother. If I had known I had wall space for it, I would not have let it go. But it’s gone. And that’s that.

I feel sad when I scroll through the old online listing of our belongings that were sold at public auction: cookbooks, a cuckoo clock, Christmas decorations. There were also a few things lost in the move that I miss: a favorite syrup pitcher, an orange peeler, the lid to a favorite teapot.

Then there are the intangible things we’ve lost: watching deer nibble grass in our backyard, taking walks through the woods, chatting with longtime neighbors.

Bill and I have also experienced losses due to aging. He deals with dialysis three times a week, and I deal with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that has on occasion landed me in the ER.

I’ve chosen three words for this year that I hope will see me through these losses: tenacity, thankfulness, and trust.

Tenacity: According to online dictionaries, tenacity means “being able to grip something firmly,”1 persistently, and with determination. So I intend to maintain a positive outlook as I deal with loss.

While I at times feel sad about items that were sold, I remind myself that my mother’s picture had been under our spare bed for years. I took a photo of it before it was sold, so I have that as well as a smaller photograph in an album. The cuckoo clock had been tucked away on a basement wall for years.

Scripture includes the story of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19), who looked back when God rained fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe she longed for something in her past. Maybe she thought she’d miss what for her would amount to Sunday family dinners and Saturday nights at the theater—the good life she had enjoyed. And she turned into a pillar of salt.

My son quotes his pastor as saying we have to give up some belongings: “It’s blessed your life for so long, now let it bless someone else.” I like that attitude. And I think my mother, smiling down on someone else with a Mona Lisa smile, would like that too.

I don’t want to look back. Some people lose everything they own in floods. They have no choice. We made the choice to move. It was a good and necessary move because of our age and stage of life. So I tenaciously move on.

Thankfulness: I am so thankful for our apartment. Bill no longer worries about outside work or home maintenance. We feel safe and comfortable, blessed to be here. I am thankful Bill has tolerated dialysis well and that at the moment, my heart is functioning. I thank God each day for the way He’s blessed me: He has provided my salvation, He has met my everyday needs, and so much more. Yes, I miss my old neighbors, but yesterday a new one invited me in to see her apartment.

Trust: This is a hard one. I look ahead and entertain the “what if ’s.” What if I develop dementia? What if I have a stroke and lose the capacity to care for myself? What if . . .? But I remind myself God sees the big picture of my life and He is with me even in the “what if ’s.” I realize I am at an age where anything can happen, and just as I can’t look back, I must not peer ahead.

God has numbered my days: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16b NIV). God will not take me a moment too soon or a moment too late.

If I worry about loved ones, I realize He also holds them in His hands as well and deals with them just as He deals with me. I can trust Him.

Tenacity, thankfulness, and trust. Oh, I’m bound to flounder in each area from time to time. But pursuing these traits links me to a God who loves me, cares for me, and wants His best for me at every stage of life. He will provide for me just as He did for my mother who experienced many losses in her life. And He will provide for you too.

Questions:

1. Which of these three words do you need the most for this year?

2. What are some of the good things that have come to you from loss?

3. What helps you to maintain a daily positive outlook?

4. What truths, encouragement, or Bible verses help you not to worry even when circumstances tempt you to?

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1. https://www.google.com/search?q=tenacity

*This excerpt comes from Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 2 (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2023), 113-115.  

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