Loss is a heavy burden,
One pushing the grieving to rest,
Having nothing left is certain,
As grief puts you to the test.
Out of such adveristy,
Is there anything we can do?
Think with all diversity,
And something comes out true.
Flip this despair on its head,
Commit now to serve,
Commit now to get out of bed,
And chase the destiny you deserve.
“Everybody can be great... because anyone can serve.”
— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)
SOMEONE once asked me, “What is the best way to deal with the grief of loss?” I had to think for a while, but in the end came an answer true to my own experience. The answer in truth is captured in the above quote; this is no new answer; it is as old as the ancients and anyone may apply its wisdom.
The way we get through loss is to serve, but we do not serve to deny our grieving reality. We serve out of acknowledged brokenness. Indeed, serving out of the brokenness of loss is the compelling avenue to God’s help – a highway to healing – because we must surrender and rely. But just because we serve doesn’t mean the truth in the loss won’t come back to eventually nibble at our ankles. It will. But as we serve we counter-attack. As we serve we practice resilience. As we serve we cajole ourselves toward joy even in the midst of mental and emotional chaos. What we can withstand holds us in good stead.
By serving we have redefined personal greatness. Personal greatness isn’t greatness according to world’s standards, but it is fabulous in God’s eyes. Every moment we push our lack into the background in order to serve with a smile, yet still not denying our arduous reality, is a moment of personal victory. Personal victory is personal greatness. And personal victories are achieved one victory at a time.
When we have grasped the connection between serving and greatness we have understood the secret of life that Jesus revealed in the Gospels. We must lose our lives to save them. We must serve with a heart to serve, and then this special God-blessed greatness is ours, in the instant.
Out of loss we have our destiny in our own hands. The secret to the best recovery is serving. We bounce back by serving. It is very hard to feel self-pity when we are busy serving other people. And though we will still have massive struggles, we will get through them all by serving, because, in that, we are connecting meaningfully with people.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.