We just found out yesterday that our sweet dog of 12 ½ years only has days to live, due to a cancerous mass in her abdomen. For those of you that are animal lovers, you know the implications of this diagnosis. We had only had an indication that something was wrong a few weeks ago, when she began to lose weight very rapidly. Last week, when we took her to the vet, we were told it was probably arthritis and that we should do blood work, just to be sure. By the time we got the blood work back and did x-rays, her health had greatly deteriorated. It is always difficult to say good-bye, even to a long-loved pet. When you know you are going to lose something or someone, you treat it/them differently. All of a sudden, they are the center of the universe, and you have patience and grace that you never had before. It made me stop and think about what loss has taught me about love.
1. We remember the past positives and forgive all the wrongs committed against us. Somehow, when we know our time with someone is limited, we are able to rise above hurts. Often, we lack patience and grace towards others because of their actions in the past. If they have wronged us, especially several times, it is hard to forgive and to trust again. True love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. It endures all things.
When we lose a child, we are more likely to forgive infractions from our other children. We are much more likely to concentrate on the beauty in the special moments we spend together. As I’ve said so many times before, our perspective changes.
2. We spend time with them. We are able to put anything in life on the “back burner,” in order to spend precious moments with them. Ordinarily, it is so easy to brush people off for obligations in our lives. As mothers, we often skip playing with our children in exchange for cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry. Our priorities change in the instant that we feel time closing in on us.
When we lose a child, we see time in a different light. We understand that life holds no guarantees, and we could lose our loved-ones in a second.
3. Selfishness disappears, and understanding and compassion take its place. No longer do we wait for that individual to meet our needs. We lower our expectations and accept them how they are. We pitch in and help, we strive to make their life easier and more comfortable.
When we lose a child, we are often able to spot hidden pain in others. We know the signs and symptoms of heartbreak, and we are quick to step in and give the compassion that we longed for in the midst of our own hurt.
4. We discover truth. In seeking answers for the impending loss, as Christians, we must eventually find the truth. We find the love and sovereignty of God to be sufficient. We learn that all things take place to bring glory to our Savior, and to sanctify us into Christ-likeness.
When we lose a child, either we run to Christ or away from Him. Either way, we learn truth. With Christ, we are able to accept and even appreciate the difficulties, knowing that our Heavenly Father loves us beyond imagination, and that He only does what is best. Without Christ, we learn the heartache and fear that follows loss, in the shadows of bitterness and lack of submission.
Loss is never easy, but we can certainly learn to embrace the joy and peace that God supplies in time of need.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp45p10-25-13