"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
So much of my time when sitting and talking with people, is centered not on what they did not do in life, but living through the things that they must give up. I have been caring for a man who was a police officer for over thirty years. The first time I met him he shook my hand and said, "You just shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of President Kennedy the night before he was assassinated."
He shared of being part of the motorcade that escorted John Glenn through the streets of Houston during a ticker tape parade after he successfully stepped out onto the moon.
"My life has been just amazing," he shared. "I wouldn't change a thing."
But then he paused, looked at his body, and said, "Well, maybe change a few things."
He always was a man who, "could just do anything," his wife shared.
For the man, the loss of personal control, being able to drive to the post office, or grocery, pick his grandkids up from school, or "even go to the bathroom by myself," are just a short list of the many things that he has, "forfeited for the sake of the call." The "call," in this case it is the cancer that has all but taken his last breath, "and it hasn't got that yet."
For any of us, loss can take many forms. I remember when my great-grandparents lost their ability to trust their decision to make a left-hand turn while driving, crossing traffic, and risking an accident when they drove to the store. My great-grandfather would then get out a map and draw their destination, only making right-hand turns, never once crossing traffic with their car. Sometimes the route would include more than one stop. The box would get larger and take on many shapes, but they felt like they were still, "able to do things," on their own.
Simple things like going to the store, driving your car, or even walking to the mailbox, all are things that at some point each one of us will encounter as something we might lose. Our independence that we work so hard to achieve as a young person, can change with one diagnosis, job change, or setback.
We are not to forget that we can always have "hope." I never once heard my great-grandparents give up. They adapted. The man that I shared about earlier reminds me, "but I can sit here and talk to you." Our perspective of living through our losses can say a lot about who we are, but also about our faith. I remember a nursing home visit with a woman years ago who taught me an important lesson. She reminded me, "Don't ever look at someone and let their appearance fool you. You may see an old woman, laying in a bed, without the ability to get up, but don't let this fool you. I am a prayer warrior and everyone knows it! I lay in this bed and I pray!"
Yes, it may be a loss that we did not expect, or plan for, but our ability to live through through the loss with faith, is what sustains us. Remember, you will never find yourself at a place where God's grace will not sustain you.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.