Tragedy is a word we hear frequently today. Whether yet another police shooting,an airplane crash,forest fires that claim numerous lives and cause untold property destruction,or a multi car pile up on the highway,tragedy is constantly in the news.
But there is another kind of tragedy that while maybe not the type that makes the six o’clock news,it’s devastation is just as far reaching,and in some cases much more so.
I’m referring to personal tragedy. The kinds and types of tragedies that happen to all of us who live with fallen people in this fallen world.
Many of us have been deeply wounded by very personal tragedies. The scars we bear,whether physical or psychological offer testimony to the devastation inflicted upon us. Many times this comes in the form of an act perpetrated against our will. Victims of sexual abuse,those who suffer domestic abuse,children abandoned and neglected,can all readily identify with the word tragedy.
Other times tragedy comes in the form of simply living “life” as we know it. Those of us who have endured the loss of a loved one,whether through death or divorce know this type of tragedy very well.
Sadly,for many the tragedy becomes a part of us,a unique “branding”,or mark that seemingly imbeds itself in our DNA. It can become who or what we are,just as easily as any other type of identifier lets everyone know that we’re a fireman,a fisherman,or a baker.
Experience has taught me that this new addition to our DNA will continue to exert more and more influence over our lives,to the point that we ultimately mark this tragedy as THE event of our lives. In essence,it defines who we are.
Once that happens,we find ourselves returning again and again to the memories of this tragedy. We don’t want to. We fight as hard as we can not to. But we have marked this point in our lives and no matter how hard we work to keep the painful reminders of the past in the background,Satan will use every opportunity to bring them to the forefront. Because he knows that we must find a way,once again,to confront the demons of these past tragedies.
I fight this battle over many tragedies I have experienced. Especially today,December 1st. Today marks 49 years since my Dad passed away.That’s a long time ago. So long ago that memories that were once vivid and fresh in my mind are now starting to fade a bit.
I find myself wishing for the days of my youth when I thought I lived in a perfect world. Funny how your mind convinces you that everything was so great,when we all know better don’t we?
I marked a tragedy the day that my Dad died. There is no doubt about it. I didn’t realize it at the time but it is painfully obvious that I did. And this tragedy has maintained its grip on me for forty nine long years.Forty. Nine.Years.
This tragedy pulls me backward when I want to go forward. It haunts me,even consumes me at times. It causes me to distance myself from those I love so that I can return once again to happy childhood memories in my mind. A time long before I knew what a tragedy was.
When I was seven years old our home caught fire and was seriously damaged,so much so that all four of my siblings and I were dispersed to live with other families until months later when we were all reunited. This did not seem to me to be a tragedy,though for certain my parents thought so. I was too young to comprehend the financial impact and hardships this event cost them.To me it seemed to be an adventure of sorts,even though the family I lived with was so different than my own. I didn’t even mind having to wear hand me down clothes!
Looking back is a two edged sword isn’t it? On one hand,looking back can remind us of happier times with friends and family,and all of us cling to such memories.
On the other hand,looking back to focus again and again on the tragic events of our past can be debilitating,especially given the circumstances some have had to endure.
For me personally,I often wonder when or if I will ever free myself of the tragedies of the past. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect to. Who can say?
All of this was brought home to me today when the Love of my life said these compelling words: “you know,if we lived in Bible times you would be turned into a pillar of salt”. Ummm…OUCH!
But I understood exactly what she meant by that,for she is witness to my many mental forays into the past. And she bears the brunt of the aftermath. With love and grace,she never fails to point me back to Jesus.
Just as I’m going to try doing for you.
The past can never be undone this side of heaven. Tragedies that were,will always be with us,until this mortality is replaced with immortality.
To the hurting and wounded among us,God has promised us a hope and a future. He has a plan for our lives,and that plan is centered around the hope we have in Christ. I for one am looking for a future when the former things are passed away. Old memories will be reaplaced with the new memories we will begin to make in a home that will literally be perfect in every way.
Memories that will never include a tragedy.