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Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Of Love and Loss

“My [loved one] passed away last week. … Now that I'm older and have traversed this experience I just walk around wondering have the flood gates now opened? Who’s next? What sudden tragedy will happen around the corner?”

Loss and fear seem to go hand-in-hand. We lose someone important and suddenly we fear losing those we love the most.

Many of us have walked through the pain of death or divorce. Although different, both are huge losses, losses that leave us reeling, wondering how to put our lives back together.

For me personally, I didn’t trust anyone (especially men) after my divorce. The thought of trusting my heart to a man left me terrified, fearful he would also betray me. My heart was too tender, too raw to open up to anyone. I shut down with so many people.

Now that I’ve taken time to heal, I’m ready for a relationship (and have been blessed with a great guy by my side)! I don’t fear he will betray me. His character and integrity are sparkling! But, now I find myself wondering if he will die before me, leaving me widowed. It may seem like a strange concern, but when your grandparents lived well into their 90s, you want to find someone whose genetics lend themselves to the same type of longevity! Truth is, none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

I’m also seeing fear of loss in my kids since their dad passed away unexpectedly last year. It’s so heart-breaking to see them grapple with loss, with fear, with emotions no teenager should have to experience.

I recently threw out a question about fear and loss on Facebook. Take a look at some of the responses I received:

“Even though I would like to meet someone, the thought of going through the process makes me nauseous. I've gotten to a scary point of being alone being more comfortable than going thru the nauseating hell of dating at this point in life.” (Loss to divorce)

“I didn't think that I was fearful of loving and losing again when I got remarried, after my first husband died, but I fight to control and protect me and my kids. Two people fighting to control and protect themselves from more hurt obviously causes problems. … No matter what, I think it takes serious being connected to Jesus-ness- at least for me.” (Loss of husband to sudden death)

“At first, yes [I feared loss], but as time has gone by (8 years now) the Lord has proven Himself in so many circumstances … that it's really a matter of trusting Him rather than that person. People will always let us down, but God never will.” (Loss to divorce)

“For the first 8 months I feared to love again because the thought of someone leaving me again. I have grown tremendously since then, and I am in the middle of getting to know a lady right now. This time, I know where I am grounded on and the lady I am getting to know is very grounded in her faith. It is a beautiful thing to be getting to know someone and to pray together and for each other.” (Loss to divorce)

“I would have to be pretty sure that the new guy's focus and desire was more on the giving and not as much on the getting. I would want him to consider it his ministry from the Lord to add blessing and value to my life. It's the only way I can see that a relationship can excel and glorify God, and that is what I would want most of all.” (Loss to death after 34 years)

“I was married and divorced to my high school sweetheart. I did have a few trust issues when I started dating again but had to remind myself that who I was dating wasn't the one who divorced me and to keep the blame in the right place, on the ex as opposed to women in general.” (Lost second wife to cancer)

“I'm not in a place to be ready for that yet but even thinking about the possibility of moving forward brings fears and anxiety to me. To make myself love and be vulnerable does not appeal to me at this time but at the same time I don't want to be alone forever and I'm open to what God has for my life.” (Loss to sudden death)

Can’t you hear it? The words drip with fear of loss, fear of being vulnerable again. Hearts have been shattered by some of the most painful losses our human experience can hand us. The hurt and the pain linger long after the loss, permanently altering lives and even the outlook on life. Our lives will never be the same.

And yet, I hear words of hope, words of wisdom. Wisdom that only comes from walking through the trials of this life. Wisdom that comes from walking with the Lord, seeing Him faithfully meet every need. Wisdom that comes from knowing the Savior, from learning to trust Him as He carries them through the most difficult times.

As I read through the comments and messages I received, I saw several key points I want you to consider as you face your fear of loss.

Wait. Over and over, I read stories of those who jumped back into dating soon after their loss. The outcome is rarely good. More pain. More betrayal. Used and abused. A broken heart unable to discern a safe person, simply longing for love and companionship to numb the pain.

I know I was guilty. I just wanted to have someone to hold me, to let me know I was loveable. And I got hurt.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Wait. Wait for healing. Wait until you are healthy. Wait until it’s God’s timing not your own.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Trust. Over and over, I hear the same refrain: My God has been so faithful. I have learned to trust Him completely. He has never failed me, and He won’t fail me now.

As you walk this path of loss and you let God heal you, learn to abandon your life to Him. Trust Him to guide you every single day into the future He has for you. Trust Him with your heart.

I love how my one friend put it: It takes serious being connected to Jesus-ness.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

Be picky. I could have had a number of different men over the last seven years, but I wasn’t willing to settle. I didn’t just want a warm body, someone to take away my loneliness. I wanted a man who loved God, loved me, loved my kids. Nothing less would do.

I have a friend who went through a divorce a little over a year ago. She’s dated several different men. All nice guys, but I always feared she was settling. She recently broke off a relationship telling me she just wants more. She doesn’t want to walk through the pain of another bad marriage, and she was fearful that’s where they would end up. Why? Because he didn’t share the same love for God, and she knows that without Him at the center, they don’t have a fighting chance.

I’ve said for several years, I will never trust a man again. However, I will trust God in a man. As my friend above said, “It’s really a matter of trusting Him rather than that person. People will always let us down, but God never will.”

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

Ultimately, we must remember that God commands us not to fear, but to be strong and courageous. If we are living in fear, paralyzed by fear, we are living in sin. We must find a way to fight through the pain, to fight through the loss, to find the peace that comes from walking with our Savior.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

There is healing, hope, a beautiful future. There is victory over fear, over loss. If you aren’t there, just keep fighting, moving forward. There is nothing better, nothing richer than seeing God put your life back together.

Lord Jesus, life hurts. Death. Divorce. Losses of all kinds. They leave us hurting and broken. But I am so glad to have a Savior who is a Healer, the One who can put our lives back together. I’m so thankful that you delight in taking  our broken lives and making us whole again. For those of us moving forward after loss, I ask you to take our fears, our doubts, and use them to make us stronger. Give us wisdom to see your perspective, your will, and to walk forward in faith. Give us the victory. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.