One of my favorite hymns is Amazing Grace. I find myself humming the music when I am stressed. The sweet and poignant message brings incredible hope. Most often, we associate the idea of being “lost” with having wandered away from childhood teachings, “spiritually lost;” or losing an object, “I lost my keys;” or lost because of a physical location, “I can’t find this address, I am lost.”
For so many years I was a caregiver. Taking care of my husband was my life. I ate, drank, slept, and breathed caring for my sweetheart. My world revolved around his doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy sessions, MRI appointments, medicine dosages, and physical/speech/occupational therapy. My days were spent doing whatever I could to make his life better. It was and still am feeling odd that I am no longer the daily caregiver for my husband. I felt like I had lost my identity. I didn’t know what to do anymore.
My raw emotions and pain was only compounded when someone once remarked, “You must be so relieved that you don’t have to take care of your husband anymore.” That comment literally broke my heart. It physically caused pain as I felt it crumbling.
Caring for my husband was hard. It was not always pleasant or easy, and my poor body suffered from years of lack of sleep, stress, worry, and truly physical back-breaking work as I would repeatedly lift his frail but long 6′ 8″ body from bed into his wheelchair and then from wheelchair to car or couch.
The person who made that causal remark did not consider or realize how much I loved my husband and how much I truly loved serving and caring for him. For me true love was found through this process. It was fulfilling the commitment and covenant I made when we married. It was simply who I was. No, I was not relieved at all! I was hurting, desperate to be able to care for him, and aching to be needed by him again. I felt utterly and completely lost.
I was lost and knew I needed to find my way back to who I once was, so I followed the counsel in Matthew 10:39 and got lost in service, so completely lost, that I finally had an idea of how to find myself again.
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
I had found my purpose before in service so I was desperate to find it again. I looked for new ways to serve: writing quick notes to the mailman, letters to neighbors who were down, smiling at random strangers, secretly delivering groceries to a family struggling financially, scrubbing toilets for someone who couldn’t physically do it himself, talking with a stranger at the park who needed a listening ear, taking a box of granola bars to handout to the homeless I saw standing on the corner, babysitting for parents so they could go on a date night, sewing teddy bears for children who had lost a beloved aunt, putting on a one person impromptu broadway musical in the car with my windows down when traffic was at a standstill and other drivers were getting frustrated and angry, just so I could give them something to smile about or sing along with while they waited. Like I said – ANYTHING I could do to take my focus off of myself and my heartache.
I noticed the days I focused on myself, MY grief, MY loss, My Pain, I would begin to spiral into a pit of despair and darkness that was difficult to overcome. I quickly found that if I immediately stopped focusing on me, and my loss, and started focusing on others, serving others, making them happier and making their life brighter, I was filled with hope and found myself again, found purpose in my life. No, my life no longer revolved around providing constant 24/7 care and service for another, as it once had, but in some small way, by serving others I had a glimpse of my old identity.
I am not advocating ignoring or running from grief. Avoidance only causes even more pain and emotional damage. It is an important part of the grieving process to feel the pain, to cry, and to acknowledge your loss; however, we have to be careful to not let the grief overtake our life. We must be careful not to become lost or stay lost in our grief. Instead, if we acknowledge our grief, acknowledge our loss and pain, and allow it to act as a catalyst for good, we can use the empathy it creates in us to help us “get lost in service”.
The experience of loosing a loved one, makes it much easier to empathize with others who are going through the experience of a loss.We have the potential for a heightened sense of awareness of others who may be in need of service. So if you are feeling lost, please, lose yourself in service. I promise, as you do that, you will find yourself again.
Questions to Ponder:
- How can using your grief to turn outwards help you heal and find purpose in your loss?
- What are some small and simply ways you could start serving?