Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I miss some things.

For forty-five years, I had perfect eyesight. I could see road signs and read them, sometimes, before anyone else in the car even realized there was a sign. I could read small street signs in neighborhoods – even at night and, therefore, always appeared to know where I was going and seldom got lost. I could read the fine print in menus even in darkened restaurants – you know, what else comes with the dish you’re ordering, the “automatic 18% tip added to parties of six or more” or “some of our dishes are cooked in peanut oil” (a warning that, if not heeded during my youngest son’s early years, could have spelled disaster) or “pipe and cigar smoking prohibited.” You know, stuff like that.

Now, unless the lighting in a restaurant is something akin to a tanning salon or a futuristic space vehicle approaching the surface of the sun, reading glasses are absolutely required as I enter eating establishments – unless I want the menu read to me like a child. “Whoa, go back. What was the third thing you said . . . the tilapia?”

It usually takes me mere seconds, usually after I sigh a heavy sigh - mourning the loss of perfect sight, for me to realize how blessed I was to have all those years unfettered by glasses or contact lenses (I still don’t see how you can touch something to your eyeball!!). I’m aware that the minor inconvenience of having to remember glasses is absolutely nothing compared with some of the obstacles millions of people face every day – those that have lost their sight completely, those who are losing their sight noticeably every single day. It’s petty to complain.

But we all have to launch from our own pad - with our own experiences, good and bad, as a foundation. Our memories, our assets and liabilities are unique and, frankly, it really doesn’t help much to lessen the impact of our own loss to constantly try to walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s a good reminder and a good journey-correction device to do so, though. Keeps you in touch with reality and gives you some big-picture perspective.

A man at my church lost his wife a couple of weeks ago after a nine year battle with that horrible disease, that intruder, that malicious perpetrator that, if it doesn’t kill, often the treatment does. Cancer. She was in her 50s. I asked him how he was doing Sunday after church. “One day at a time,” he said.

I still miss my father. He died over 12 years ago and not only do I miss him, nobody and nothing can ever take his place. His presence is lost to me.

I’ve had to put a couple of dogs down over the years and the subsequent quiet and physical void that’s undeniable and immediate is stunning. But it’s nothing like losing a family member. Or is it? To people that keep humans at arms length because of some pain inflicted upon them by said humans, the loss of a pet can be devastating.
Again, we all launch from a different pad.

Some of my friends have lost the innocence of their early years. The ugly side of life, the disappointment that inevitably comes with relationships, the loss of focus on a career or a noble ambition that seemed so clear a couple of decades back. We’ve all lost some of that.

Wow. So you just wanted to read something uplifting, huh? Some “Tweet” of inspiration in 140 characters or less?

Well, if you’re reading this, you’re breathing and God is not done with you.

And here’s a real “guy” bit of advice on how to get over it.

Get over it. Stop dwelling on the past. It’s gone.

How do you do that? When your mind starts to drift toward some morbid memorial of things lost, put something else on the screen. Like shuffling photographs when they come off the printer, look at something else.

“Wow, that’s a bad picture. Let’s put that in the back of the pile – or maybe in the shredder!” OK, here’s a good one. Look at those colors!”

Here’s the point. You have to learn from your loss. Learn to deal with it in a healthy manner. Learn to trust that God is real and that He’s got His eye on you. And that anything we hold to in this life has an expiration date on it.

Is it possible that daily reminders of loss are just ways of telling us not to get too attached (or at least to keep our attachments within some eternal perspective) – to anything! To keep a light grip? Even on the wonderful blessed stuff - like love and those that come with love? To remember that we are passing through and that eternity won’t be cluttered with things that die? To not be overwhelmed with the piles of things that were supposed to make our lives easier and are just making us more anxious?

Our vacation time at the cottage this year was the most peaceful, simple pleasure. The cell phone didn’t work much at all. The only internet connection was a dial-up service that forced you to just . . . sit . . . there . . . and . . . . . . wait. It was beautiful. And, remarkably, the sun just kept coming up and when we returned to the busy life of the city, everything was still churning as if we’d never left. In a lot of ways, we weren’t missed at all.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself to breathe. I find myself, literally, holding my breath, getting done with the things that must be done! I don’t want to live this way. And I pray everyday for the wisdom to pursue things that matter, things that are eternal, while surrounded by the noise of things that don’t. I pray that I’ll revel every day in the love God has poured all over me – with Himself, with family and friends.


1 comment:

Dana Coleman said...

I lost my mother at the end of July and a good friend of mine the middle of August. How different it has been during the last 3-4 weeks. Looking ahead and "putting something new on the screen" is an absolute.

At my mother's memorial service, I reminded those in attendance (including myself) that the ashes we buried was not the person we loved and who loved us. In looking ahead, I encouraged those and myself that they, as believers, walked directly into the presence of the Lord.

In some ways(actually a lot), that has made it a whole lot easier to look ahead and to the future for someday soon we will be on the same screen together.