(Anonymous 17th-century watercolor of the Semper augustus)
I am writing this post in honor of a dear friend of mine who has experienced a lot of loss in her life recently. Hers was in the form of a potential adoption of a child that fell through. A child that she and her husband had spent months caring for. And most recently a failed third, and final, round of in vitro. The way she handles loss continually inspires me.
This may sound strange to you. But many of the beautiful moments/things I have experienced in this life have come mingled in sorrow or at the heals of loss. Does this even seem possible to you?
Loss and sorrow can overwhelm and embitter. OR they can be a catalyst for growth. They can be accompanied by a peace. Mingled with joy, even.
It all comes down to how we respond.
Harboring resentment and anger only poisons our own well. Looking enviously at those who seem to have it better imprisons us in our sorrow. Rejecting or ignoring our situation, is living in a state of denial, and stunts our growth.
And yet, these are often our natural response to loss and sorrow. I think we have all dabbled in these three and can recognize the stench that accompanies.
There is a better way. It’s called surrender. I won’t say that it is the easier way. But it most definitely, most certainly is the better way.
Do you want peace in your present circumstances, regardless of what they are? Do you want hope for the future? Do you want joy mingled with your sorrow?
Surrender is the only way.
Surrender means letting go. Letting go of our expectations for what SHOULD happen in life. Letting go of our bitterness when said expectations do not happen. Letting go of the LIE that our life can’t be beautiful unless said expectations happen.
Surrender means trusting that God’s ways are not always easy, but they are always, always better. That if we are his, all things work together for our good. Trusting that the creator and sustainer of not just this planet, but the entire universe, can manage the circumstances of our life far better than we ever could. And then reveling in the beauty of his presence as he walks us through loss – the sweet closeness we experience only at times like this.
Surrender means finding something to be thankful for day-by-day (at times moment-by-moment). Thankfulness, especially thankfulness in sorrow and loss, is incredibly powerful and healing. It is like a balm to our broken hearts. It is a vehicle that helps transport us through sorrow and loss, our spirits intact. There is science behind the power of thankfulness in our life.
I know from personal experience that surrender REALLY DOES work. I can attest to the joy-mingled sorrow I have experienced again and again in my life as I have put surrender into practice. Even in hard circumstances like the loss of a loved one, cancer, chronic disease, severe depression and anxiety, broken relationships, and the many other “little” sorrows and losses of life.
I distinctly remember a fairly recent trial that I experienced. As it was going down, instead of complete despair, I felt this unusual peace carry me through. It was so beautiful. I wasn’t excited to experience loss. It certainly wasn’t something that I sought out. But as I surrendered the situation, letting go of bitterness and what-ifs, I had hope and joy even in the midst of great sadness. It felt supernatural.
Surrender really is a wonderful thing. It frees us. When we face loss and sorrow with surrender we are released from the shackles of bitterness, jealousy, and hopelessness. And not only that, it allows our trials to NOT go to waste.
Hard experiences in life can be some of our greatest teachers. They can refine us and help us grow in ways that we never would have otherwise. They can teach us patience and perseverance and love. They can foster compassion in our hearts for others who are struggling and be the impetus for us offering our love and support to those in need. Trials can even help us bond with others in ways that we never thought possible, as those we love help carry our burden.
In conclusion, I want to share a little something that might give you a bit of encouragement if you are experiencing loss and sorrow today. Did you notice the picture of the flower at the top of the post? It is a drawing of a tulip famous for being the most expensive tulip sold during the tulip mania. “At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.”
Do you know what gave this tulip its beautiful stripes? It was a virus. This virus, called the tulip breaking virus, caused color-breaking of tulip flowers. Crazy, right? A virus, something we typically view as harmful and undesirable, actually resulted in something as beautiful as these striped tulips that became incredibly valuable.
In the same way, if you let it, the loss and sorrow in your life can result in something so beautiful, so valuable. Oh, that we would surrender!
p.s. (Update) I want to add that I have been putting these things into practice today in regards to a lesser “trial”! I had been experiencing some stress in regards to my efforts at blogging recently. Surrender works SO well with these lesser trials too, that if left unchecked, can also cause our hearts to be full of anxiety, bitterness, hopelessness, jealousy etc. I just thought I would share 🙂