Jesus taught that those who love their lives will lose them. This doesn’t exclusively refer to the moment when we breathe our last. All through the years, life is not static. Over and over again, we lose the “life we love” and have to let go, adjust, and build something new. Likewise, and as a corollary, Jesus constantly taught that we have to die – again, not only physically when we breathe our last on this earth, but more importantly, in ways big and small throughout our lives. The path to growth, maturity, wisdom, deeper faith, and fuller life is through loss of the life we currently lead, no matter how attached we are to it – in other words, through death. I wish there were another way; I don’t like dying! But I increasingly know there is not.
I’ve learned this lesson repeatedly, including in the past several years. I’ve had to let go of aspects of my self-image, my visions for what my life would look like, many beliefs about God and faith, my assumptions about people close to me, and more. Many of the things I let go of were cherished and valued. It felt like dying when I had to close chapters I loved, see dreams and hopes crumble, lose people I loved, and move on. It’s been hard work to delve deeply into myself, to accept and let go instead of resisting, and to re-envision myself and my life. At times, I felt like I’d lost “myself” and all I knew was darkness.
Yet God, who always sows in abundance, was sowing life in me. God was working slowly and patiently, and only as I was ready, to help me find my center, regain my strength, and guide me on the path. I’m not finished with this journey – as if we ever are! But I have been stretched, I’ve grown, and I’m in a much better place personally and spiritually than I was a few years ago. I never would have asked for the circumstances of my life to get here, but when those things happened and all I felt was dying and loss, God was there to crack open every hardened seed, help me slough off the debris, and gradually bring light, new life, and peace.
Where are you in your life? Perhaps you’re in a more settled place right now, an oasis where you’re able to sow seed from the goodness of all God has given you. (Remember, God loves a cheerful giver!) Perhaps you’re in a dark spot, unable to see the light ahead and needing to trust in defiance of death (or in acceptance of it) as God cracks the seed casing you’ve so carefully guarded. Perhaps you’re somewhere in between, trying to discern what is God calling you to as you emerge from deaths, losses, and changes in life. Regardless, I believe that in serving and following Christ, we’ll be repeatedly challenged to die to and leave behind many things we cherish, learn what is worth preserving and expanding, and trust in the sometimes excruciatingly painful process inherent in the Paschal Mystery.
No, I still don’t like dying! Yet it’s the only way to become ever more abundantly who we were created to be, so we, too, can sow light, life and peace in the world.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.