This Lost and Found Life

As you get older, it’s easy to become preoccupied with all the things you’re losing: time, mobility, options, friends, hair.

The attrition of existence can all begin to get heavy upon your shoulders if you let it.

I’ve been feeling the weight of life lately. I think many of us have. 

But the real story is that there is a balance in this living; something born with each thing that dies, something found for each thing lost. Today I took a walk in the woods and I thought about the much younger me walking in the woods four decades ago.

I started to remember that it has never been only about losing:

I lost the skin on my knee and found the healing of my mother’s kiss. 

I lost the girl I once thought I would marry and found the love of my life.

I lost my father and found compassion for the grieving.

I lost the bubble of my comfort and found fellowship with hurting people.

I lost my dream job and found my true calling.

I lost many fair-weather friends and found a few battle-tested kindred spirits. 

I lost my buoyant grade school son and have found a middle schooler becoming a compassionate young man.

I lost my religion and found a far bigger God.

Some of the things I’ve let go of I do grieve over, but I do not want that to be all l that I do. I want to celebrate the things I’ve been given too.

Life is supposed to like this: mourning and dancing, failing and rising, lamenting and celebrating. 

This is true of me, it’s true of you, and it’s true of everyone you share this space with right now. We are all in the middle of both subtraction and addition simultaneously. We are all dying and being born second by second. We are losing and finding ourselves.

And the key as we walk further down the road, is to not simply be aware of the losing alone, not to only notice the attrition, but to realize all that we have in this moment that we could not have received any other way; the gifts that were being placed in our hands even as we were struggling to let go of something we treasured.

I am no longer that effervescent young boy walking in the woods. I have lost much of him; his smooth cheeks, his naive wonder, his wide open view of the world. I do miss him.

But I’ve found the man taking these steps today; his face lined by a million smiles and worries, his boundless joy at being a father, his defiant belief in the goodness of people. I’m trying to appreciate him, knowing I will lose him too.

Because I know that one day I will lose my final breath, and finally find the answers to all the questions I cannot answer now.

Today, may you walk and remember all that you have lost along the way, but allow yourself the kindness of seeing all that you’ve found in exchange.

Be encouraged today. 







58 thoughts on “This Lost and Found Life

      • Jan,

        I’m sorry you lost your husband. I too lost someone I loved with all that I am but it was nothing like the closeness of a marriage. Still, I was thinking the same about my lost love when I read your comment. I definitely have more compassion for the grieving now. I know better than to say time heals all wounds. Not this. It changes you forever. Life goes on, you find joy in other things but for me, I wonder if I’ll always feel that something is missing.

      • Sorry for your loss Jan. No easy words, just feeling for you in losing the most important person in your life.

  1. Thanks once again, John. Today especially I need to find that “patience and longsuffering with joyfulness”. You always put it so well.

  2. I believe that nothing is ever lost. I may well be that we no longer have something we used to enjoy – or not! But because it was once in our life it has shaped our life in uncountable ways and therefore lives as a teaching tool, a memory, a reliable guide, a blessing, a source of comfort, a source of regret etc. and so on.
    We are what we have experienced and that experience has formed us into the person we are today. If we don’t like all of who we are – release that part and get a new experience.

  3. Buddhists always caution against clinging, because nothing persists but change. Be fully present in the moment, but let go of today when it is time.

  4. What a beautiful post. Thank you.

    This past year God has been teaching me that the most important qualities I can nurture are compassion, humility, and mindfulness. This post addresses those issues.

  5. As an atheist, I never imagined a pastor would be at the top of my read-daily(and share frequently) list.

    Thank you for the wisdom and love you share.

  6. Oops. Forgot to check the box.

    What a beautiful post. Thank you.

    This past year God has been teaching me that the most important qualities I can nurture are compassion, humility, and mindfulness. This post addresses those issues.

  7. You made me think of Jesus this morning when he he said,

    “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

  8. Thank you for reminding me to look for the good in change. One of the things I have misplaced is my optimism. Your post reminded me that everything is temporary.

  9. Thanks for this, and many other thoughts recently. I am not enthusiastic about Christianity or Christians, yet I always find so much in your writing that speaks straight to my heart.

  10. As usual, Thank you, Thank you. I needed to hear this. We are the sum of all we have lost and gained. I have always been “Suzy sunshine” but she has gotten lost in all that’s happened in the past few months. You returned a little of her to me today. Bless you,

  11. Wonderful!

    I wish we could see the “blessings in disguise” immediately. The waiting and the realization takes sooo long.

    Reminds me of a t-shirt that says: I’d love to punch you right now. Karma takes too long.

    John P. I have saved so many of your posts on my desktop and shared them with family and friends and this is one that I’ll treasure.

    Thank you for all you do for us.

  12. Pingback: This Lost and Found Life – My Mind Snaps

  13. Thank you for the eloquence of your words, the truth. I could feel the depth of them within myself. It lends a tenderness and hope to the journey.

  14. Once again, just what I needed.
    Thank you for encouraging me so I can be strong to encourage others.
    So many losses right now but I am holding on to what is Real and True.
    bless you my brother in ministry ♥

    • [[[[[[[[[[[[Leslie}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

      I am sorry that you are enduring losses but am glad to know you are finding comfort.

  15. Is it just me, or have any of you noticed that when an issue of a purely spiritual and loving nature is written about by John P., all the Trolls, Scribes, and Pharisees duck out and stay away?

    John 3:20

    • Not just you, Charles. John P. speaks the truth whatever he writes. Sometimes the various trolls are too deeply convicted by his words to refrain from spreading their hate-filled words.

      Other times, when the words are just so filled with beauty, compassion, and encouragement, I find myself wondering what a troll could find to object to. Usually, they do not disappoint.

      I am honestly surprised they have remained silent.

      Although I daresay my own personal troll will write something scathing in response to my words. And I will continue to delete without reading whatever that troll has to say.

  16. So very encouraging. I’m in transit. I’ve lost a country of birth and a long time living there, and I’m not sure what I’m to find but am filled with a great sense of peace, joy, adventure, expectation and hope. It is quite exhilarating and your post has exemplified this change for me. Thank you.

  17. JL
    To John, and every single person on this page: You fill me up. You touch my heart and soul. I empathize with you and I smile with you. Each and every one. This is God’s grace, manifest, in my life. This very moment, here with you. Thank you for being here with me. I cannot imagine a more “Christ-like” setting for this moment than the one we have right here, right now.
    God bless you. JL

  18. Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is discord, union;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy.
    Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood as to understand;
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive;
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

  19. Thank you, John, again, for your wise words. I retired last year from 35 years in the legal profession. After “morphing” into the reality of being closer to 70 than 60, I have thrown my energy into my music and art, which were neglected during my working years; my grandchildren; dog rescue; and gardening. I’ve lost the intensity of the litigation arena, but I’ve gained the serenity of older years and the time to enjoy these other pursuits.

  20. Thank you so much for this post. While I do not consider myself a Christian per se, I stumbled across your blog and have been following your writings these last few months. Thank you for taking on the challenge to hold up and strengthen the tender-hearted in these scary days. Please continue to shine your light.

  21. Thank you, John, for your wise words. I too have been sorely tempted to dwell, of late, on the losses in my life. Soon to turn 66 years old, the years seem to be weighing heavily on me. Perhaps it is the current political climate that has exacerbated these feelings, as the anxiety I feel about the present and future have grown. Your words help to bring my focus back to the eternal balance of life: losses and gains, endings and beginnings. That fact has made me realize, once more, that, regardless of external circumstances, this is the natural rhythm of life all experience. That it is this ebb and flow, give and take that has made me who I am today. Yes, I too mourn the losses, but truly, it is these many losses that have made room in my life for the new, and it is the new that has gifted me with the growth that keeps me alive.

  22. Thank you, John P., once again. Your words give me hope and they give me courage. Most of the time, you speak my truth for me and broadcast it out to the multitudes. Thank you for speaking the truth of a true believer; there seem to be so many left.

  23. Thanks for this. It’s good to see something other than politics from you in my Facebook feed. Even though I agree with the many things you’ve been saying and share in your concerns, politics isn’t what I come here for. This has been refreshing.

  24. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both
    educative and engaging, and let me tell you,
    you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few men and women are speaking intelligently
    about. I’m very happy I stumbled across this in my hunt for something regarding this.

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