“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Phillipians 3:7,10).”
Today I was watching an episode of one of my favorite TV programs on the Internet and the network hosting it kept replaying the same commercial. It asked the viewer what they have found to be amazing.
Their clips included things like whales jumping through the ocean, and newborn babies. When I tried to answer the question, attempting to come up with images in my own mind, I drew a blank.
This really concerns me. I am wondering why there is no “Wow” factor for me. I am questioning why my emotions are so dead.
Don’t get me wrong. I occasionally get teary-eyed over some things: an event involving a loved one, or a poignant drama, for example.
But I don’t get “wowed” by much of anything. Am I that much of a cynic?
It has occurred to me that my emotions may be numb because of the poor handling of what the experts call “loss” in my life. I have an article from a long-lost source which gives an expanded definition of “loss”.
Here is the bulk of this piece:
‘Loss’ is the disappearance of something cherished, such as a person, possession or property. The definition of loss also includes “the act or instance of losing; the failure to keep or get something valued; the harm or suffering caused by losing or being lost; losses a.k.a. casualties occurring during wartime; destruction; and a measurable reduction in some substance or process.
Loss is a common experience common that can be encountered many times during a lifetime; it does not discriminate for age, race, sex, education, economic status, religion, culture or nationality. Most people have experienced some type of personal or professional loss at some point in their life as a byproduct of living.
Losses can be of many different types from the loss of relationship or job, to the loss of breast or limb, to the loss of mental faculties or health, to the loss of control over nature or life events or the ultimate loss through death. There are also many losses that occur as part of medicine. People are diagnosed with life-changing conditions or life-threatening diseases or terminal illnesses. They also may undergo procedures or surgeries that can cause different types of loss such as the loss of a limb or breast, the loss of mobility or the loss of the ability to eat. People may receive sudden bad news from physician, law enforcement, military personnel or clergy about unexpected loss of a loved one.
There are also losses that are never publicly announced or acknowledged such as with a miscarriage or abortion, death of a relative by suicide or various types of physical or emotional abuse. Instead of being able to grieve in a public manner, the person endures very private sorrows that can impact his/her health and well being.
I personally have experienced several types of losses described above. Most recently, I quit my job, tried to get it back, and then was basically told ‘no’.
I wasn’t technically fired. However, emotionally it is the same to me. I may have been anyway had I continued there.
In the last decade, I have quit some other jobs. They began hopefully, yet ended badly.
In a couple of them, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I was either going to get fired or laid off, so I left.
In the last decade I have also had other losses. I have lost a home, lost my father to death, and encountered life-altering health problems personally and with members of my family.
My most recent job loss has me looking in the mirror, since it was inability to control my temper which led to it. I have had a long, hard look and have seen the need to and method for change.
The experience has stirred some emotions in me, mostly shame and guilt. However, the one feeling I need to experience has escaped me, as it has with my other losses.
I am talking about “grief”. According to the same article above, grief is the normal response to “loss”.
Here’s what happens if one doesn’t grieve, according to this forgotten author:
Grief is the normal response to loss. Loss and the resulting grief response frequently affect a person’s mental and behavioral wellness. Repressed, unrecognized or unresolved grief can cause personal anguish, increased anxiety, multiple physical complaints, functional impairment, strained relationships, marital discord, disrupted sleep, impaired childhood, increased substance abuse–tobacco, alcohol, drugs, tranquilizers; clinical depression, and an increased mortality from heart disease and suicide.
I have experienced almost all of these symptoms of unresolved grief, except gratefully, I haven’t resorted to substance abuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if my leukemia, which is a disease that originates in the bone marrow, is the result of being incapable of dealing with my losses.
The wise man of Proverbs wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).” Indeed, perhaps my repressed grief led to a major surgery a year and a half ago.
It was one of my medical “losses”. I fell down a hill and heard something snap.
It turned out to be the bones in my ankle -three of them in fact. They were probably too weak to handle the impact. My crushed spirit led to my crushed bones.
A failure to feel is a sad state of affairs. The wise man of Proverbs also wrote,”The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear (Proverbs 18:14)?”
Indeed, my emotional state has been far worse than the broken ankle bones. At least they have healed.
However, I have hope for the healing of my crushed spirit because the apostle Paul found the solution to it. He learned that neither performing, nor shame, nor guilt was going to get him or anyone else out of his funk.
Writing to the Corinthians, he described the Israelites as having dull hearts. There hearts were veiled from God’s truth.
Paul told the people of Corinth that only Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit can take away this dull spirit, (II Corinthians 3:12-18, II Corinthians 4:6). Paul said that because we have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, although it may not feel like it, God is “renewing us day by day” (II Corinthians 4:16).
My aforementioned article on loss quotes Elaine Childs-Gowell regarding the necessity of grieving over losses:
Whatever it is that I have lost (or must give up) I must grieve. If I do not do my grieving about the old hurts and insults, then, when I am faced with a here and now grief experience, I will end up having to dredge up all that old energy along with the current experience.
Ms. Childs-Gowell is correct in my view. We have to face our losses and sorrow over them to begin to heal.
We need to do this as we experience them. The energy needed to deal with cumulative losses is too much for anyone to bear without doing this.
However, grieving is only the beginning of the healing process. Paul said he was “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair (II Corinthians 4:8)”; how could he say this?
It is because Paul had a view of life beyond this earthly one. To heal, we have to look at the eternal.
The more Paul experienced loss, the more he died and Jesus lived in Him. That’s my goal, too. I want to taste the life of Jesus in me so I will focus on what’s coming, my resurrection.
If I didn’t have anything to be amazed about before, I do now. What could be more amazing than to be resurrected from the dead, in this life and the next!
I can’t perform or feel or think my way out of a funk in my emotions to get a sense of wonder.. Only experiencing the resurrection power of Jesus through faith in Him will heal my crushed spirit and give me the ability to say: “Wow!”