How I Lost It All and Found Everything

{By David Rupert}

 

The power of loss 

“Whoever wants to gain the world, must be willing to lose everything.”

 

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This principle is at the very core of the Christian faith. It separates us from the world that is hell-bent on gain, no matter what the cost. It separates us from those who adhere to religion over relationship. It separates us from ourselves.

 

Gain through loss is a painful reminder that I need to trust God for the process. And it’s a lifetime lesson.

 

Every young man who marries gains a wife and a relationship. But making that marriage work requires some loss, the relinquishment of certain treasures from the single life. With a touch of remorse, I gave up a useful, but ugly green couch, a velvet “Elvis the King” poster, and a motorcycle that produced more smoke than RPM.

 

I’ve given up other cherished things throughout the years so that I could move ahead financially, mentally and spiritually. I’ve quit jobs, relocated to different towns, changed churches and found different circles of friends.

 

Now to be clear, I wasn’t always happy to give these things up. (I loved that couch!) But the exchange for an improved life situation or character was the promise. It’s easy to thank God for the gains in life, to cheer achievement, and to praise blessing. But how often do I rejoice in the things I’ve given up?

 

Some of the things I’ve surrendered have been done out of spiritual discipline or personal conviction. I’ve given up things that weren’t healthy for me at the time, like alcohol, chocolate, television, and red meat. And to protect my relationship with God, I’ve run from pornography, turned away from destructive relationships, and won the battle over lifetime habits. Those losses – and others – have ushered in greater gain into my life.

 

Releasing the grip

 

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I tend to hold on to things pretty dearly. My money, my time, and my status are gains that I’m not so eager to let go. Wresting these things from my grip can be painful.

 

The tight clutch I have on possessions is especially exhausting. I came from a poor family. My father, a roofer, worked alone, climbing ladders into his 70’s, pounding his living out nail by nail. We lived with daily bread, trusting God along the way. As a foolish teen, I wanted no part of that lifestyle. So I pursued jobs with benefits and security.

 

But here I am, approaching a half century of life, and that quest for security seems almost quaint. The 401k that I so faithfully contributed to has been crushed. The home that we faithfully paid down is worth far less than what is owed. I used to dream of retirement to a cabin in the woods. Now, it’s looking more like a shack in the suburbs.

 

Letting go of nostalgia

 

Last year I unloaded my 1956 Chevy. As the buyer loaded it up on the trailer, the groans from the old girl were loud. I watched it go down the road on the trailer like a regal queen, sitting high above the traffic.

 

It was my first car, brimming with memories. Part of the family for more than 30 years, it was not easy to send it away. But the truth was that I would never be able to accumulate the money to replace the rusted floorboards and pitted chrome. The engine belched smoke and the transmission shifted erratically. It would have taken a fortune for its restoration. The kids, now grown, had no interest. So, it was time to cut my losses.

 

I gained a spot in the garage, some money in the bank, and freedom of my time.

 

The unexpected blessing has me looking around. What other things am I holding onto for nostalgia sake, cluttering up my life?

 

I lost my favorite hat once and was upset for days. But then, after looking at a photo with me wearing it, I realized just how ugly it was. Why was I so upset that it was gone? Losing it was like a winning a ticket out of Dorkville!

 

Let go of loss

 

But life is more than losing hats. The unwilling loss of health, relationships, and love mark my past, like ugly ink stains on a well-worn shirt. To be honest, it’s hard to bow my head and give praise for all of those things. But the mere fact that I lost something is an acknowledgement that I had it to begin with. I was blessed for a season, and that’s worth something.

 

The truth is that loss has a way of creating gains in my faith. Those cherished things that I held like a kite string in a storm are better to let go so I can be free to pursue growth.

 

We hold on to unhealthy relationships, go to churches that suck the joy out of our faith, and grip tightly traditions that only makes us feel proud that we are keeping up a good image. That’s not gain – that’s stagnation.

 

Thanks for nothing (literally)

 

I am at a place now where I am comfortable with the world, my place in life, and my future. I can even give thanks for the things I’ve given up, even in disobedience or out of God’s will.

 

I’ve gained love, and lost it.

 

I’ve gained friends, and lost them too.

 

I’ve gained wisdom, only to chuck it away in one foolish act.

 

Yet God is still finding a way to work, in spite of me.

 

It almost seems that the balance of life constantly has fresh water pouring in, while the old stale water dribbles out, over the edges. And for that, I’m thankful.

 

 

{photo credit: tammy@meadowsSpeak— Laity Lodge

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David2David Rupert on any given weekend can be found wandering the Rockies, fly-rod in hand, and trying to figure it out. He may be a communications professional and writer for a government organization by day, but by night, he’s taking seriously the call to encourage the Body. Spurring another to share their gifts, is a passion of his. He especially points to Christ’s words on his blog called Red Letter Believers and continues to reach others through his many publications in magazine articles. While he has his hands full, he is also the community editor at The High Calling, and adding to the list, his new book set to release in June 2014 is called  Disconnected: How to Turn Around Every Broken Relationship.  While yet another book, Make a Difference: Growth in Leadership, and many more writings by him can be found here as he continues to seek out more ways to encourage others.

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3 Comments on “How I Lost It All and Found Everything

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