When you’re desperate to see the positive in your loss

Sometimes life will not turn out the way we planned or hoped for it to go. Tracy Steel understands this. She had high hopes of making it big in the corporate world of interior design, but wound up finding God and falling in love with Him in the middle of picking paint samples and pattern swatches for her clients. Meeting Him changed everything for her. While letting go of corporate perks and paisley fabric was painful, God continued to unravel and redesign Tracy’s life in beautiful ways she never expected. God’s true design for Tracy involves a different kind of interior design. He’s shown her that interior spaces are not ultimately beautiful because of the things in them, but because of the Who and who that is in them. It’s a grace to welcome Tracy to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Tracy Steel

Death rarely inconvenienced me or made its presence known in my life while I was growing up.

I’d always heard about death, of course, and knew it was something that happens to all of us.

But for the most part I didn’t give death much thought until it came time for the woman I loved most in this world to experience it.

I watched my mother slowly die over a span of eleven years.

It was as if her bags were symbolically packed for heaven, sitting quietly over in the corner of the room, staring at me.

On October 8, 2012, my mother was fully healed in heaven. I’d give anything to still have her here. And now her bags are gone.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4)

The Bible has much to say about death and our God within its pages.

I pray specifically for those of you who are in the midst of grieving loss of any kind, that these words will somehow bring comfort to you.

I am truly sorry for your loss.

I trust that God will help you find your way as you meander through your losses and that He will restore your joy and your strength as you come to Him seeking them.

Joy Prouty
Joy Prouty
Joy Prouty
Joy Prouty
Joy Prouty
Joy Prouty
Joy Prouty

Joy Prouty

I am not a grief expert, nor am I trying to dismiss the loss you are feeling.

I am in the valley with you.

But I refuse to be defined by the valley, and I am growing in my appreciation of its depths and of its beauty.

The valley is where I have found my faith to be genuine and to be my guide when I cannot see.

When the negative quenches the warm and fuzzy, my faith nudges me to cling tighter to my creative Creator.

And so I do.

He is everything to me.

He is the positive space or the focal point of my life.

When others hear my mother’s story they sometimes ask me if I am scared of death or dying in the manner that my mom did.

No, not anymore. She died well with her eyes glued on her God.

Now I also know how to die well.

I no longer fear death but am embracing the days I have left instead, knowing that my figurative bags are packed in the corner too.

The same is true for you, fellow traveler.

Loss of any kind leaves an empty, negative space in our hearts. But God has a purpose for this, and He uses it to fill us with what is positive.

Negative space {from a design standpoint} primarily draws our attention back to the positive space in a room, on the printed page, or in a piece of art.

Likewise, grief and loss create their own type of silence or empty, negative space within our hearts. Grief is like negative space in a piece of art. It gives our life definition, and at times seems to go on forever, leaving its presence all over our actions and thoughts.

Our grief, with its accompanying anger, depression, and fear, can feel like it is lord over us. Be encouraged, for it is not. God is sovereign and Lord over all of these things.

God, then, uses loss like an artist uses negative space to give us permission to pause, reevaluate, and ultimately draw our attention back to what is positive—God Himself and the hope we have in Him.

Is God the focal point of your life even though you have faced loss of some kind that you didn’t design or want?

What are you trying to fill the negative space in your heart with?

We can try to fill the negative space with more relationships, alcohol, shopping, Netflix, food, or more work, but things like these will never completely fulfill us like God can.

You and I are needed in this world.

We cannot stop living even though things or people that we love are dying.

It’s one thing to see a shiny- happy Christian bounce into a church building with a plate of cookies and bag of highlighters, posting memes and selfies from Bible study.

It’s a whole other thing to hear women in the pit of despair and loss say the name of Jesus with hope and love and watch them continue to trust him, proclaiming His truths with everything they’ve got left.

Something powerful and needed happens when we comfort others with the same truth and comfort that God has poured into our hearts (2 Cor. 3–4).

Comfort is so needed in this world.

So is the gospel truth.

Give others comfort and this truth, broken one.

Give them.

This is why your grief matters. What or who you have lost matters. Do not let your grief go to waste or wish it away.

We cannot cover others with comfort if we have not received comfort ourselves.

We cannot know the blessedness of receiving comfort either if something or someone has not been taken away from us first.

Maybe the ultimate point of death is not loss but restoration of life.

Maybe the point of loss is to show us that all is actually not lost.

While the things of this earth fade away, our God never will.

Allow your pain to point you back to the positive God who loves you.

No matter the diagnosis. No matter how many relationships or dreams die.

Fix your eyes on the Focal Point and fill yourself up with Him.

Die well.

 

Tracy Steel, former interior designer and ministry leader, now delights in redesigning the interior space of the hearts and minds of women around her. Tracy is a military wife and mother of two and holds a MA in biblical and theological studies. She is a mentor, a speaker, and the author of A Redesigned Life and Images of His Beauty, a ten-week Bible study for young women. Visit Tracy’s site to subscribe and receive “5 Tips for Freshening Up Your Heart and Home” and more encouragement from excerpts of “A Redesigned Life.”.

In her new book, A Redesigned Life and Images of His BeautyTracy has masterfully woven together the interior design principles that once guided her with the biblical principles that now change her so that women who are also living a life they didn’t design can embrace God’s invitation to redesign the interior spaces that matter most. One of these design principles is “space.” God has a purpose for “space” particularly in the lives of those in the midst of an unplanned valley.

Drawing from time-honored design principles such as movement, contrast, and pattern, A Redesigned Life offers you the assurance that God is the ever-present, caring Designer of your life and that He remains true to His plans and purposes in every season–especially the messy ones. Through biblical examples and true stories from her own experience, Tracy will help you recognize God’s purposeful design in your life so you can experience peace and contentment even when life doesn’t go as planned.

[ Our humble thanks to Revell for their partnership in today’s devotion ]