I had hoped to find a title with more pizzazz, but it is what it is. I almost titled it “Lost,” but then many of you would assume I was writing about the TV show, which wouldn’t be surprising. (Hmm… I should do another post about LOST…)
Does anyone else have that list in the back of their head? The list of the lost? The random items that have been misplaced over many years? I do.
1st grade, green jacket, probably at a church in England. 5th grade, notebook of stories, perhaps thrown out? 7th grade, leather jacket, most likely left at a Friday’s restaurant. 12th grade, my dad’s digital camera, the cafeteria? Sophomore year, my Roots cap, I really have NO idea. Last year, photos from my 3 week road trip, possibly on some random memory card, possibly deleted.
The list could go on and on and on. Because it’s not just items, is it? For those who are competitive, I’m sure you have a list of games you lost, challenges you lost, arguments you lost. For those who are driven by relationships, there are the people you’ve lost over the years. Perhaps because of something you did, perhaps not; from moving or change in schedule or simply growing apart; and of course, those we have lost in death. And of course, the greatest losses fall into this category: Opportunities.
How many of you dream about a romantic relationship you wish you had (or hadn’t) pursued? How many lie sleepless at night, annoyed that you turned down a job opportunity, maybe even YEARS ago? How many go over conversations you’ve had, perhaps driving in your car or while you’re in the shower, and realize all the mistakes you made and what you should have done?
I do. And I get the feeling I’m not alone. We often focus on what is NOT instead of what IS. For example, recently I tried to map out all the important people in my life, put them down in circles of Core People, Close People, and Community (nearest, near, and somewhat near). I charted out my Friends, people I consider mentors, and others that I have mentored over the years. The inner circle had 4 people, the middle circle 16, and the outer 32, so each page had about 52 names on it. My goal was to help myself engage in my most valuable relationships on a regular basis and still stay connected people who aren’t as close (by sending a Facebook message or text every once in a while). But you see, I had over 150 names, with at least 40 people that I had determined I needed to stay in communication with every 2-3 weeks.
I think there are people out there who could do this. They are probably extroverts. The thing is, I love people, but I can’t handle a large number of relationships. I need a small community of friends that I can encourage and that encourages me. 150 is not small. 40 is not small, and seeing as many of those names were people back in Texas or elsewhere, it certainly wasn’t that easy. Not that relationships should be easy, but I have realized that every relationship has to be an ONGOING relationship. In so many areas of my life, any meaningful relationship I start, I want to continue for years to come. I am still good friends with people from middle school, counselors from camp, even kids (that aren’t kids now!) that I had as campers almost 10 years ago! Of course, naturally, not all relationships continue– and I partially accepted that. But when a relationship would continue, I felt that I had to keep it going or else I would lose something incredibly important in my life. Sometimes that was true, but I’ve learned that sometimes, losing things can be good.
I looked at that list of people and did more rearrangement and came up with a list of people that I know I need to stay connected to, at least for now. Some are here, some in Texas, some far away. Some are strong, some need to be rekindled. Beyond that, there are people that I still care about. But I can do two things. One, I have placed most of them on my Lifedays calendar (click the link to read about it). Two, I can trust them to God. We can trust the lost things to God.
That doesn’t mean that if I find my Roots hat, I won’t be elated. That doesn’t mean if a far off friend contacts me, I will ignore them. It simply means that I trust that God is in control and by letting go of certain things, I can hold on to others. By letting go of certain opportunities, we can move forward. By letting go of certain relationships, we can grow others. By letting go of photos we’ve lost… well, I still would love to find my photos. But by letting go, I can be grateful for what I have and not lament what I lost.
Too often we define ourselves by what IS NOT. Instead, we should define ourselves by what IS.
We can grunt and gripe and complain– “I coulda been a contendah!” — or we can say farewell to the lost things of life and turn back to what we still have.
I can’t help but wonder if this sense of loss that we all experience in big and small ways is simply a taste of what humanity lost in the Fall. And I can’t help but hope that the satisfaction we receive when we find lost things, big and small, coins and sheep and sons, is simply a foretaste of what we will experience beyond this space.
Until then, may you let go of that which is lost with grace and faith; and I pray as well that you may find what is lost, according to the will of God.