Last week, much of the world watched in shock as Notre Dame in Paris burned. Not knowing the extent of the damage, many feared that the entire cathedral would be lost. Although much was damaged, including the iconic spire, the cathedral remained largely intact. A poignant image captured by a firefighter still in the midst of blinding smoke was the golden cross gleaming from the alter, quite remarkably the only thing that could be seen during the throws of the fire. How incredible. In all of the flame and searing heat, the glowing cross pierced the darkness of destruction and the reminders of our impermanence.
Even the strongest of foundations will be shook, and the most beautiful of structures will fade. Trials, hardship, and loss are part of the human condition, which at some point everyone will face. As a lyric to one of my favorite songs laments, “we’re all one phone call from our knees”. Emotional loss can occur for a variety of reasons: death, divorce, unemployment, sickness, infidelity, abandonment, addiction, imprisonment, and on. When tragedy comes, how can one see the light of the cross and carry on when the loss is so blinding?
Allow yourself to grieve what has been lost
Grieving is a natural response to loss that is necessary to process intense emotions and come to terms with what the loss means, and how to eventually move forward. Choking down emotion and denying the reality of what happened can turn heartbreak into poison that will only cause more long-term emotional damage. Venting pain in a constructive manner can lessen its power and help lead to healing. Going through the stages of grief will allow us to walk through the necessary steps of denial, anger, and bargaining to ultimately reach a point of acceptance that is needed to take the next step forward in our lives.
Find identity in the midst of loss
When that watershed moment happens it’s hard to remember what we were before it happened. What we wouldn’t give to turn back the clock, unmake that decision, say those words, unsay those other words, pay more attention, or somehow just undo what had been done. We can spin in regret, futility, and blame for years trying to come to terms with who we are in the aftermath of the loss. Ruminating on ‘what ifs’ will keep us standing still and rob us the grace of the cross, which says that we have a future and a hope that transcends any loss that happens in this life. Reclaiming our identity and purpose is essential to allowing the loss to become a part of our story, instead of being completely defined and overcome by it.
Carry on knowing you’re being carried
Loss is hard, even devastating, but the intensity will fade and it can be endured. Although the impact of some losses will be felt for a lifetime, God’s word promises that even as we feel the heat and pain of our fiery trials, it will not consume us (Isaiah 43:2). When despair and hopelessness threaten to burn up our faith, it’s within that weakness that we can become most aware of God’s strength (Psalm 46:1-3). Keeping our eyes on the forever glory of the cross can help provide an eternal perspective to the temporary nature of our human losses. On this side of Heaven; however, it’s necessary to also lean on the support of others to help carry the burden and find a source of comfort. Christ promises to be near the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit, which is often experienced through the love of others (Psalm 34:18). In the midst of pain and brokenness, Christ continues to unconditionally accept us as we are, and provide a light through the darkness.
Are you struggling with loss and don’t know the way through? Crossroads is here to walk alongside you, and help you work through the grief towards renewed identity and a path forward. Call 225-341-4147 to talk with Cheryl or another Crossroads counselor.