Have you ever defined your life by what you have lost? Have you defined it as, “before the loss,” and “after the loss?” Today many of us may define our lives as “before COVID-19,” and “after COVID-19.” Now in March, it has been a full year since life was radically altered by the effects of the sudden pandemic, and most of us can say we have suffered loss in one way or another.
When something is lost, by virtue, it is not just a feeling but it is originally a newfound reality which then causes us to react. Losing something or someone is an undeniable truth that can cripple us from moving forward, or moving at all. When we lose a loved one, our home, a job, or even our keys, we feel stuck. We are frozen and overwhelmed by this sudden uncertainty. Our progress, growth, and normalcy is suddenly halted when we start to define our lives by what we have lost.
Like many young girls in Ethiopia, Hayat was born into a Muslim family. Now in her twenties and finishing her education, you may be surprised to discover how her early years were spent and the difficult circumstances she faced that were beyond her control. She was born as the youngest of five children, and when she was a little girl, her family suffered a major loss when her father passed away suddenly. With no income being brought into their household of six, Hayat’s mother took on the heavy weight to provide for her family. The loss was not only a heavy feeling, but it was a heavy reality.
Not only did Hayat’s mother face the responsibility to meet all of her children’s emotional needs alone, but it was her responsibility to pay the rent, put food on the table, and provide an education. Hayat and her siblings had emotional, physical, educational, and spiritual needs that could not possibly be met by one person.
It was through this loss, this horrible circumstance, that Hayat was able to join the Onesimus CarePoint in Ethiopia where she received support to move forward.
Here she received the school supplies necessary for her to begin the second grade. It was only through the loss that Hayat and her family found themselves in a desperate situation that led them to a community who would walk alongside them and help them carry their burdens. For 10 years Hayat was able to receive an education. She finished high school and is now in her third year at Adams University College studying accounting. After graduation, she plans to support her mom and help children who suffer through circumstances similar to what she has overcome.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)
When I graduated from college during a global pandemic, I felt an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. I felt frozen and unable to move forward after all the loss that I suffered in such a short time. I lost my three part-time jobs, got kicked out of my apartment and had to move home, and lost what I had been working so hard toward for four years, walking across the stage at graduation. After finishing my college career virtually, I was paralyzed by all the loss of the year and hardly knew how to move forward. I let the loss I faced define me more than I let it empower me with purpose and joy. I let the pain of the loss consume my thoughts and progress. I didn’t know what to do to move my life forward again.
Looking back at my past year, without all the loss I experienced, I wouldn’t understand what it truly means to find purpose in loss. The loss itself did not define me, it was what I chose to do with this loss that empowered me to move forward and find purpose again, although it took me a little while to get there. My relationship with the Lord suffered while I was so distressed and stifled by the all loss in my life, and it wasn’t until I stopped defining myself by this loss, that I began to see God use the loss to create radical growth and change in my life. Although we live worlds apart and our loss can not come close to being compared, I can relate to Hayat. I began to see purpose again when I let God use the difficult circumstances I faced to walk beside others going through the same things. Whatever you have lost through this past season, remember that you are not alone, and you are not defined by the loss you have suffered. God will use that loss to give you a greater purpose, one that can be used to help others and glorify him. I have learned that true, terrible loss can be rewritten as something that saves us, or rather, it can reshift our perspective toward the One who saves us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mariana Novakovic graduated in 2020 from Berry College with her Bachelor’s in Communication Studies where she specialized in Public Relations and Visual Communication. She works as a Project Manager for Liberty University and serves as HopeChest’s Spring social media intern where she is able to grow her love for writing and graphic design. As a native Floridian she loves spending time outdoors, at the beach, and in her spare time you can find her baking.