Lost & Found

Sometimes you have to lose something to really understand just how valuable it is. It’s so easy to take things for granted, so easy to complain and grow dissatisfied with what we have. And then, when it’s taken away, we realize just how much we actually had to be thankful for.

Twice recently I’ve had something that was very important to me taken away. One of those things was later restored but not before I learned through heartache and tears to be thankful for what I had in the first place. The other thing has not been restored and I don’t know if it ever will be. What I do know is that losing these things taught me more than having them ever could.

Heartache is a terrible and brilliant teacher. I have learned much from the good things in my life, much more from the hard things. Perhaps it’s the desire to never go through such things again that moves us and makes us grow and change amid trouble.

In those moments when the things I loved and wanted were lost (and I’m not talking about material things, by the way) all I wanted was for life to go back to the way it was before that moment. I saw how good I had it, how much I had to be thankful for, and would have given anything to put it all back together as it was.

But even though I can’t change the way things are, I can learn and grow from the trouble—and really, it would be a waste not to.

This loss has humbled me; it has made me more thankful for what I had and what I still have. I hope these lessons stick. I hope I don’t have to learn the same hard lesson the same hard way.

I have much to be thankful for, a big beautiful life to live. God, help me never to forget.

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you
learn.” C.S. Lewis

A Beautiful Mess

I used to think everything in life had to be just so to be happy. But I’ve started to see just how jumbled up and messy life really is. Life is often both beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. I would like life to be organized into tidy little boxes—the good stuff goes over here, the bad stuff stands alone over there. But that’s not how it usually works.

One night Darren and I were at the old house we’re remodeling. The sky was clear and the stars were sparkling over the fields without the obstruction of city lights to hide them. We pulled a piano bench out in the yard and sat there together under the stars dreaming and planning our life in this new place. We looked up at the sky and took in the stars that we so rarely get to see. While we sat there, chins up looking and dreaming, the most beautiful shooting star I have ever seen zipped by with a trail of flame behind it that you could actually see. I gasped out loud; I was so startled and delighted by it.

That moment with Darren on the piano bench under the stars was perfect. It’s a memory I’ll hold in my heart forever about a time when we were young and we were weaving our lives and dreams together.

But even as beautiful as that moment with Darren was, it’s a sad memory in my heart too. That same day my cousin’s little teenage daughter was killed in a car accident. On that same beautiful night under the stars, I remember pacing the driveway in the dark aching inside and praying for my cousin and my aunt and uncle. I couldn’t comprehend their pain and I couldn’t understand why so much hurt exists in the world.

That moment and that memory will always be bittersweet. It will always be one of my favorite memories with Darren and it will always remind me of my cousin and all she is going through; there is no way to separate the two.

That’s how life is—it’s beautiful and it’s heart breaking. What I’m starting to see is this: Life does not have to be perfectly happy or completely beautiful to be good. Life is a smattering of the good and the bad. It’s messy and complicated and beautiful all at the same time. And that’s okay.