Eric’s Sunday Sermon; on the Road to Recovery
Some Losses Are Harder Than Others
How fantastic that we can recover from some pretty serious stuff. Recovery seems to be a go to word for addiction and alcoholism. We will get into spiritual recovery later.
I make no mistake that the loss of a child or their suffering in a premature manner may just be the worst. Divorce or death of spouse. Loss of job or a passion are ranked right up there. The concept of untreated or maltreated or late treated PTSD related to combat, or close to it, is beyond normal understanding.
A stage four cancer victim with 5% chance to make it, would be up there. As would loss of a limb or mobility. Losing independence is majorly tough. Prison time for most. And where do you even begin to understand sexual assault or child abuse? We must not forget the loss of a pet. I often wonder if severe dementia/Alzeheimers would be the saddest, especially with no recovery in sight.
Some of the above would be of little consequence to one and huge to another.
But losing your spirit would be the worst. Having a belief and losing it would really be a downward spiral. So let us first look at a recovery from a loss of a thing to get some understanding. Now things have different “rankings” here. And those rankings change in circumstance.
Cheap but required reading glasses. I have probably lost twenty. I get the 1$ kind and get three at a time with differing strengths. I keep my two “good” pair, never to leave my desk or kitchen counter. Those I have kept for years and they have saved my bacon a few times. I would be bummed to lose either of those. On the other I read food labels before buying anything. Losing or leaving my glasses and being without them at the grocery store is an aggravation but not a loss of any sort to me. (we note here that a temporary “losing” is aggravating but not what we mean here, “I can’t remember where….” Is different)
So if I lose such an item like necessary but fully replaceable 1$ reading glasses probably only requires the replacement by one of many spares. So we don’t really think of recovery from that kind of thing. But circumstances could change that. An aged person without the ready ability to get to the store for a week could be real bummed out.
I Still Mourn
It is just me but I do not think of animals and plants as things. OK maybe invasive weeds and spiders. And for various reasons I could see someone attached to either or both of those. A pet Tarantula and dandelions come to mind. (yes the flowers are pretty and the leaves are edible) Loss of those to some could need a little recovery.
The above illustrates that we should not discount what makes a person feel a loss. Hey, they feel a loss. We like to tell young people “don’t cry”. We like to say “do not cry over spilled milk”. Well they have every right to cry.
The five stages of grief are generally accepted as these: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And to be sure, everyone is different. And sometimes they get switched around a bit. So it is common to say that these stages are a road to recovery.
I would say that loss of a close family member may indeed take a year to go through the stages.
And what happens when another person in malice causes you to lose someone. Well that one you may never recover from in the natural. This notion starts to make us think of spiritual recovery. We certainly can understand that forgiveness would be helpful for anger and depression. Even though someone might have every human right to be angry and depressed. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.
My wife not knowing what she was doing, and really not giving a darn through away a pair of shoes of mine. Serious walking shoes that I had taken good care of for over 30 years. These shoes walked more miles than she will in her lifetime. They had walked in more countries than she will ever visit. My grief was devastating. My anger out of bounds. As much about the shoes as my loss or respect for her and temporary loss of love.
The only ways I got over it were time and forgiveness. But I will never forget the shoes.
A kind of funny illustration but one that illustrates that we must be mindful not to cause a loss for another. Can you imagine texting while driving and running into a family of four and what kind of loss they would suffer? Too often selfish negligence causes more grief than an intentional harm could ever cause. But let us look at that from a spiritual perspective.
I Will Never Forget
Keep It Full
An example that is not too hard to imagine. You fail to keep your backyard secure. You leave the gate open. Certainly not intentional. Your dog runs out and gets killed by a car. A huge loss. And part of that road to recovery is forgiving yourself. Guilt and remorse would devastate you. To a Christian this may not be possible without seeking the forgiveness of God for your lack of stewardship toward His creature.
Some folks may seem to recover by throwing up their hands and saying “it is what it is” and really think they recovered. Well what they just did was fill a void in their heart with apathy and seeming uncaring. Those are truly the two opposites of love. Recovery is the eventual painstaking of refilling that void with love. Good enough if that love begins with forgiving yourself.
We used a Christian example above. But this is a bit more all-encompassing. This is about being able to move forward in love. That overwhelming love that saves us from ourselves.
The addict will remain and addict until he learns to love himself enough to follow that road of recovery. The first notion would be that he accepts love from others until he learns to love himself again. We can see how this fits into a notion of a loving God. It is clear that he must develop at least his own understanding of a God. Something greater than himself pouring love out on him.
Only about 25% of addicts/alcoholics fully recover. I would suggest that modern medicine including psychiatry only takes us so far. Indeed 12 step programs only take us so far. Those who recover so far that they flourish are enveloped and filled with love. Oh to be sure they may cease use of chemicals but that is not a spiritual recovery from losing love.
Perhaps the road to hell is paved with good intentions? But for sure the road to heaven on earth and beyond is paved with love. Sure a pothole here and there but we can fill those back in with love. The road to recovery may be rough and rocky at times but love will conquer those hurdles.
So when we lose anything we can recover mentally and emotionally even including loved ones. But we cannot recover that which is lost.
Except for one “thing”, the most precious thing and only everlasting thing there is and that is love. We can fully recover from the loss of love. The well is always overflowing just there for you to fill your vessel back up.