My heart is a little overwhelmed right now. Yours might be too. What do you do with a loss in life? Especially when it is a loss of life? In the past month, hurricanes have devastated thousands of lives. Two close friends of mine are going through separations. Children are living with cancer. And just last night, 59 innocent people died as they did something they loved to do…listen to country music. These losses are unexpected, heart breaking, and life-changing.
Quite honestly, I can’t imagine what so many people are going through. Words can’t describe.
My losses in life have not been that intense or tragic. And knowing that, I have an almost guilty feeling that my loss is just the perceived loss of a dream to have my own child. Seems relatively small.
And more than that, I feel almost embarrassed that I lost years of my life thinking I was a victim because I wasn’t married with a family. I thought the rest of the world moved on without me.
I know I’m not alone on this. You or someone you know may struggle with being single, not having kids, being divorced, being overweight, or some other life circumstance that causes them to see themselves as a victim.
Today, I see people with real, tragic loss in their lives, and I think – that’s a loss. These people truly are victims. I wasn’t a victim. What I had wasn’t really even a loss.
It was a prison.
It was my own prison, and my perspective was the prosecutor.
A wrong perspective keeps you believing that the world is sentencing you. It locks you into a negative mindset. It suffocates your dreams and goals in life.
The wrong perspective holds you back from living a life that is freeing, flourishing, and full of love.
Do you know anyone like this? Someone who complains a lot about life. Who views the things in their life as the reason they aren’t happy. The job they have, their weight, their house, or their state of relationships. They sneak in the self-pity statements here and there as if they have it worse than others. I did.
To my married friends (I complained): I don’t have anyone to travel with this summer. All the married people are going on vacation with their families. (It didn’t occur to me they might not have money to travel, or that they can’t travel because of kids, or that they might currently hate their husband and not want to travel.)
No, I just continued to talk about how I was a victim. Don’t have kids. Don’t like my job. Live by myself so I’m lonely. Blah, blah, blah.
These things were true. I didn’t have many options for traveling solo; I don’t have kids; I didn’t like my job, and I lived by myself and was lonely.
But were these a blessing or a curse? It’s really in how I chose to see it.
I could have chosen to see them as a blessing. It’s a blessing I have a job that pays enough for me to live by myself. Yes, I don’t have kids, but being a single mom is hard. Could be a blessing. It’s a blessing that I have a job that gives me a summer to travel.
Looking back, not only could I have viewed these life circumstances differently, but I could have used my extra time to do something! I could have done a lot – like get a doctorate or start a business or become fluent in Spanish.
People – if you don’t like where you are, change it. You are not a tree. (I love this quote!)
I didn’t. I chose to waste it in my prison.
It was more comfortable there.
Another blogger put it so eloquently – Your perspective can either be your platform or your prison. It’s your call. (Thank you, Kelly Mastellar!)
It took me several years, but I finally made the call – I wasn’t a victim. I could choose to be the heroine of my own story, or I could choose to be the victim. I could choose to use what I had as a platform to move myself ahead, or I could continue to live in a prison.
Platforms elevate. Prisons suffocate. So I chose the platform.
I decided to design a life I love. No one else was going to do it for me. I am not a tree. I am a daughter of a God who freely gives grace and love, and I realized that He designed me for a life of love (Ephesians 1). He designed me from love – for love – to love. In every area of life.
He did the same for you.
He designed you out of His love for His good works (of love). He gives you the choice to see what has happened or is happening in your life as a blessing or a curse. A platform or a prison.
Do you know anyone who chose to use a loss as a platform for good – a way to help, love, or encourage others? If you have ever heard of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, then you know of one. A mother who lost her child due to drunk driving used it as a platform to help others and has changed thousands of lives with it. There are millions more like her.
Those are the ones living in freedom.
They’re not locked away in their prison, so they unlock love in their life.
If you are in a place where you see a life circumstance holding you back, I challenge you to start seeing the life circumstance as a platform, not a prison. Unlock the negative mindset, and lock in the love of God.
In thinking about the tragic victims of these world events, a life of love is what they need most from us. The hands and feet of Jesus that love others with felt needs and action, have to be free to do it.
We can only freely love if we aren’t in our own prisons.
As I look back, I know I wasted those years living as a victim focusing on what I didn’t have. But I’m extremely grateful, now, that I get to use that loss as a platform and love others with hope and encouragement. Be encouraged. You are not a tree. 🙂
Friends – If you know of someone who struggles with being single or being a victim of their circumstances, please read this guest post I did at Flourish & Co. It is full of specific steps to help them!
joyfully ~ Natalie