Have you ever been lost? Of course you have. Before sat navs we probably got lost all the time!!
I like to scuba dive. When you learn to dive, one of the skills you learn is how to navigate underwater, and how to read a compass. It’s pretty important, you don’t want to surface after a dive and discover you’ve been swimming the wrong way and the dive boat is nowhere to be seen!
I don’t know why, but when it comes to reading a compass I have a complete mental block. Fortunately I have only ever dived with people much more experienced than I am, I’ve trusted that they wouldn’t get lost, and they never have. Mastering the compass underwater is still on my to do list though!
None of us like being lost, it’s a horrible feeling, unchecked it can develop into anxiety and fear. I was thinking about the word lost the other day, so I looked up its definition. These are just a few of the meanings, of course it can mean different things in different contexts.
Collins English Dictionary
1. unable to be found or recovered
2. unable to find one’s way or ascertain one’s whereabouts
3. confused, bewildered, or helpless
4. no longer possessed or existing
Lost is also a word that we use to describe someone’s death, eg. ‘I lost my mum last year’.
It’s odd the things that bothered me after mum died. The words we use to describe the death of a loved one suddenly took on new meaning for me. Words that in the past I had spoken myself without a second thought.
We say, ‘I lost my mum’, or ‘mum passed away’ amongst other things. I know it sounds silly, but those phrases really made me cross, I’d even get cross with myself if I spoke those words.
‘I lost my mum’ seemed to indicate that I’d been shopping and accidentally left her behind in Marks and Spencer. ‘Passed away’ just felt like she had somehow evaporated into the atmosphere. Don’t even get me started on ‘Promoted to Glory’!
You might be rolling your eyes at this point, thinking that you can’t say anything right to the bereaved, and I would agree with you! I was painfully aware that I was so irritated by other people’s words, I had to make a conscious effort to be gracious. This was more an indication of my own instability, most people just wanted to help, they weren’t being deliberately insensitive.
I think the reason these phrases bothered me so much, was because they seemed to take the horror out of mums death, they seemed to somehow soften the situation. A situation that couldn’t be sugar coated, or softened. My mum died, and no words could lessen that devastating fact.
A few months after mum died, I recall speaking to someone that I didn’t know very well. I was describing mums illness, and before I could finish my story, they asked ‘how’s your mum now?’ I replied ‘she’s dead’. The words caught in my throat, and I started choking on my own racking sobs.
I had said the words ‘mum died’ many times, but I had never said the words ‘she’s dead’. It’s seems like a small thing, but the words hit me with debilitating finality.
There’s a wonderful book called ‘the Shack’ by WM Paul Young. Some Christians dislike this novel because of the way it describes God. I love it for exactly those reasons, it depicts God in a very visual, human way. It tells the story of ‘Mack’ in the aftermath of his daughters death, and how this has affected his relationship with God. Mack refers to his grief as ‘the great sadness’.
I have a dear friend whose mum died a few months before mine. I don’t know if she has read ‘The Shack’, but from the beginning she has referred to her grief as ‘the great missing’. Such powerful words, I think of an emptiness, an ache that runs so deep that you never reach the bottom.
In one chapter, the book describes Mack, lying next to Jesus, looking at the stars. Mack says ‘I feel so lost’, Jesus reaches out and takes his hand, and answers ‘I know Mack. But it’s not true. I am with you and I’m not lost. I’m sorry it feels that way, but hear me clearly. You are not lost’.
So often I have read those words and felt exactly as Mack did.
Lost in my own sadness, lost in the darkness, lost direction, lost all purpose in my life. Lost in the great missing.
Our parents are, or should be, the first stability we experience in life. We belong to them, and with that comes safety and security. We follow their direction, and they don’t let us get lost.
Without our parents, and particularly if you are single, we can wonder who we belong to. I still have my dad, but since mum died I have wondered what will become of me when dad dies. Who will I belong to? I will no longer be anyone’s first responsibility, I will have no one who will love me unconditionally. I will be lost.
Lost and afraid.
If I let myself go down this road, I very quickly find myself in the dark, full of unanswered questions, and fearful of what the future holds. Sometimes I am quick to recognise this is happening, and can rein myself back in before I reach the point of life holding nothing but impending doom!! Like many fears, it is the fear of the unknown that is frightening. I am so quick to rush ahead and imagine the worst, when in fact the reality might be very different!
My mum is not lost, I know exactly where she is.
Im not lost either, I feel lost sometimes, but I’m not lost.
I love the parable of the lost sheep in the bible. If you don’t know the story, it tells of a man who had one hundred sheep. When one of the sheep is lost, he leaves the other ninety nine to go and search for it. He searches until he finds it, that’s how important that one sheep was. That’s how God feels about us. We are that precious, and that important to Him, that he would keep searching for us. We aren’t just one of many sheep, lost in a crowd of nameless faces. We are known to him, he sees our pain, he sees our fears, he sees us in all our ‘lost ness’.
I know it can be hard to believe this. I struggle too. Sometimes I feel invisible to God, and I wonder if He forgot about me. Does He see that I feel lost? Of course I know the answer in my head, but my feelings don’t always agree.
If you are grieving for a loved one, there are no words I can say to make things easier, but I am so very very sorry that you are hurting. I’m sorry that you feel broken, and I’m sorry you feel lost. All grief is unique, but I can relate to some of what you feel, I too feel broken and lost sometimes.
In spite of how your life looks, or how you feel, you are not invisible, you are not lost. We might be that one sheep, feeling lost, alone, vulnerable and afraid, but Jesus is coming for us.
We are His precious precious treasure, and how He longs to gather us up in His arms and lead us to safety.
Hang in there dear friend, I am believing for both of us that better things are coming. There is hope for us.
We aren’t lost, I’ll say it again, just to remind myself!!
We are not lost