Loss Leads to Perspective
A great loss leaves a great gift behind: Instant perspective on all that is truly important in this life. Craig Morgan has written a country song that speaks to this experience, “This Ain’t Nothin’.” The lyrics contain a conversation between a reporter and a man who just lost his home in a tornado. The man says losing his home is nothing compared to the loss of the ones he loved during his lifetime.
As with all challenges, many of which are out of your control, you ALWAYS have the choice to grow in the ways of wisdom in the midst of it all. The result is “the peace that passes all human understanding.” This kind of peace can only be obtained through the experiences of passing through great loss or tribulation. It gives you the opportunity to let go, accept what is and appreciate all that is essential, authentic and good in life. This is a process of life changing healing.
After you obtain a perspective of the essential things in life, you may find that onlookers of your uncommon peace will ask with curiosity, “How can you remain so calm about this, that or the other thing?” These questions will often flow from individuals who have not experienced the gift of perspective in life or those who choose to continue connecting their sense of safety and well being to the non-essentials.
The ability to see all of life in light of a loss (or tribulation) instantly reduces daily anxiety that often accompanies a lack of perspective. I refer to this as “death bed wisdom.” If you have had the opportunity to experience the “kiss of death” in life you know what I am talking about here. This kind of wisdom resonates with profound gratitude for all of life… every breath, every heartbeat. Remember, you cannot be grateful and anxious at the same time.
Next time you feel the weight of anxiety, remember all the opportunities in your life that have given you the gift of perspective… whatever you focus on GROWS BIGGER. I will often pray, “God grant me the grace to remember all that I learned through the storm.”
Possibilities from Pain
In the spring of 2010 my husband’s mom and dad died suddenly, three weeks apart. As I was contemplating this experience of grief, I was given the following story that has filled my heart with perspective and peace. Yes, you can grieve and at the same time experience inner peace:
“A talented painter once gave an unforgettable performance in front of an admiring audience. With rapid strokes of his brush, he quickly and skillfully painted a beautiful country scene, replete with green meadows, golden fields of grain, farm buildings in the distance, peaceful trees and a friendly blue sky punctuated with soft, white clouds. As he stepped back from his easel, the audience burst into appreciative applause—only to be silenced by the artist, who announced, “The picture is not complete.”
He turned and began rapidly covering the canvas with dark, somber paints. The peaceful country scene was replaced with blotches of morose, unappealing colors, all seemingly thrown on the canvas in random disorder; only a patch of the blue sky and the peaceful countryside remained.
“Now,” he asserted, “the picture is finished, and it is perfect.” The stunned audience looked on in disbelief; no one understood what had just happened. Then the painter turned the canvas on its side, and the onlookers let out a collective gasp of amazement, for now there appeared before their eyes a stunningly beautiful, dark waterfall, cascading over moss covered rocks and creating a rich symphony of color. The artist intended his amazing and unexpected demonstration to be a commentary, or reflection, on the reality of sorrow: one beautiful scene of life was transformed into another, even as observers believed something wonderful was forever lost. The meaning of this story is simple: God is the artist who created our lives, and who desires to make them into something permanent and glorious; and sorrow and loss are often His instruments in bringing about this change. From our limited perspective, we believe that the original picture is fine as it is and that any change, especially a painful one can only be for the worse.
God however, sees and understands the possibilities of life and eternity far more completely than we ever will and, if we allow it, He can use all the events and experiences of our lives—even the dark and somber ones—to bring about something of lasting and unequaled beauty.”
Esper, Fr, Joseph M, More Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems. Sophia Institute Press, May 24, 2004.
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