• Jim Donaher

Getting Through Loss and Onto What's Next

We've all heard the old adage, 'When one door closes, another one opens.' It makes practical sense to say,'You can't take hold of anything new, without letting go of something that's old (or that no longer serves you).' After all, how many hands have we got? Lastly, we've also heard that 'Everything happens for a reason.'


Adages are quaint, cliche-like comments that sound wise and enable people to say 'something' when they really don't know what to say. I have used them as my bail-out comment many, many, many times. Now and again, they would be said to me, but not very often, and not in particularly painful times. (Like maybe the bolognese is just 'meh.')


Until the past few days, that is. After 17 years, I got laid off on Wednesday. I'm writing this on Friday morning, the second full day of my idleness, so my thoughts are probably going to differ from those I express in a week, or a month or a few months or a lot of months.


What I have learned over the past 48 hours (almost to the minute, as I am typing), is that these adages are both comforting and true. For example, I see a range of doors to investigate, and consider opening. The door behind me no longer matters, save for the friendships I accumulated while I was inside. That is what lasts, and that is what provides comfort and reassurance during trying times.


The doors, however, provide the hope and with the hope, the excitement and with the excitement the motivation to check things out. So those whom I've told 'I'm excited,' I really mean it.


My wonderful mother-in-law used to say 'Everything happens for a reason.' Honestly, I used to roll my eyes, but over time, she was proven right, time after time. So much so, in fact, that even if the 'reason' didn't readily display itself, I learned to know it was there, and that the more faith I had, the more patient I could be, waiting for it to reveal itself. And it always does.


Although the 'letting go' adage is figurative, meant to evoke a sense of dropping something in order to pick up something better, it can be literal too. For quite a while now, I have carried the burden of responsibility that was my job, despite the fact that, as some express it, it 'now longer served me.' Despite that, I went on 'serving it' as best I could, for a long time. Part of it was responsibility and professionalism. Part of it was lethargy and fear. None of that felt helpful.


But increasingly, it was habit. And as the great John McNiece used to say, 'If you do what you did, you'll get what you got.' But as you spend more and more time doing something you are increasingly unsuited for, your effort slips. Your commitment slips. Your focus, initiative and passion all slip. If you had an abundance of these things stored up as inventory, you could live off them for quite a while. Sometimes years.

But eventually your tanks are empty and you're sitting by the side of the road waiting for AAA.


For me, the day I am stranded on the road is a beautiful one. The sun is out, the breeze is gentle, the scenery beautiful. I am relaxed, confident and hopeful. I am not alone. I have a great family, who supports and loves me. I have many friends and former colleagues whose brains I can pick for the price of a cup of coffee.


All of these things are gifts from God. And the biggest gift is Jesus himself, who waits patiently with me, telling me jokes, allaying my fears, playing good music and assuring me that He has it under perfect control and not to worry. He gives me insight into why things like this happen (yes, Ma, everything actually does happen for a reason!)


I relax. I believe Him. He is right.


He talks to me about letting go of this thing I've been driving all these years. It served me well, but it's starting to get old and quite frankly, the gas I put back into the tank won't revive it. Time for something new.


Having convinced me that something new is needed, He begins to show me doors. Big, showy doors. Small, unassuming doors. Windows, barely big enough for me to fit through. Doggie doors (really?), automatic doors, garage doors and ornamental gates. Steel barred doors, saloon doors, and a million others.


Although I feel like a kid in a candy store (actually better, since I didn't care much about candy stores when I was a kid), some of the doors hid disappointment. Some just looked like doors, and when opened, they reveal only a brick wall. Others were a tease, causing you to walk in, thinking you found something cool, only to get stymied by the brick wall further in.


Some doors, you can just tell, are not for you. They look like friendly ghosts of prior lives, where you only remember the happy parts and forget why you were miserable and why you left. (Or they left you). Whatever it is, Jesus whispers in your ear, 'You don't want those. They are there, but they're not for you. Not anymore.' You know He's right, even though it seems familiar and therefore, comfortable.


Several doors look fascinating. They're definitely worth some additional exploration. Who knows? (Well, Jesus does, but He is leaving the choice to me.)


I know you're looking for a 'door payoff' here, and I wish I had one. But I am at the start of this, and I truly don't know what the right door will look like. It may be a hallway leading to another set of doors. I may open a wrong door and it's an empty elevator shaft. (Whoa, that was close!)


The thing is, I don't know what I don't know yet. I am blessed with guidance, from Jesus and through the wonderful people He has placed in my life.


Finally, He explains why this is happening. (You know, Ma, the reason) :


This life is not for your comfort or your ease or the accumulation of material goods and wealth. This life is to refine you. You are a sinner, unfortunately, and we are working to get you past that by increasing your dependence on, trust for and love for, Me. I am your savior, because I love you, care about you and want you to live with Me in heaven for all eternity.


You will not be sinless when you die. No one is. But that's not the end. Depend on Me. Trust Me. Grow in love for Me. If you commit to doing that, I will bring you home at the proper time - My perfect time - and continue working with you, perfecting you and keeping you close to Me. Rest assured - I finish what I start.


Some good news, despite the fact that the refinements we make here on earth will often be painful, messy, inconvenient or even tragic, you will pass them. You've been tested repeatedly since the day you were born. As you grew, the tests got more challenging. Finally, you reached points in those tests where you couldn't go on without help. That was when you turned to Me. I am helping. I do not fail. I may deliver in a manner you don't expect or recognize, but My way is perfect for you. If you trust me, you know you can LET GO, and I will lead you to the RIGHT DOOR to open and bring you to the next big thing.


These things, bald man, are the REASONS that this is happening. Now. When you are ready to tackle it.


Okay, I'm in. I can do this. I have help. BIG help. Thank you, Jesus.


God bless you!

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