What If Every Loss Is Leading You In The Right Direction?

Brooke Cagle

We view loss as failure, as negative, as a setback, a step in the wrong direction. When we lose someone, we all too often think of their life ending instead of celebrating the moments we shared. When we go through a breakup, we see our single-ness as ‘missing something,’ as if there’s a person-sized hole in our chest.

When we’re faced with something painful, it’s so hard to see that pain as good. Chemically, emotionally, physically, we’re aching, and it’s almost impossible to see open doors when we’re standing in front of closed ones.

But what if every loss you faced was leading you in the right direction?

Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever looked back to see that college you didn’t get into might have been the completely wrong choice? That the baseball team you didn’t make would have kept you from joining the club team that gave you all your closest friends? That not losing your grandmother so young would have kept you from forming relationships with the estranged side of your family? That breaking your back in middle school actually led you down a different, more fulfilling career path?

In life, pain comes—sometimes in waves, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes when we can feel it in our bones before it hits. Pain tries to break us permanently. But pain also teaches. And strengthens. And gives us lessons and purpose and power that we wouldn’t have without facing it, and coming out on the other side.

What if every painful thing you faced was actually pushing you forward, pushing you down a different road, a better road, the road you’re meant to be on?

Have you ever thought about that? That losing a parent helped you become independent, self-confident, loyal, and hardworking? That ending a marriage guided you to the love you deserve? That falling down allowed you to start over, dust yourself off, and begin again with a new purpose and heart?

This is not to say that pain should happen to someone, because with all my heart I wish we didn’t have to go through the things we face. This is not to say that someone’s experience ‘happened for a reason,’ as if it simplify it, diminish it, or reduce it. Because all pain is real and should be validated. This is to acknowledge that sometimes we pull strength from pain. That sometimes pain, though debilitating, does not have to end us.

Despite what we go through, despite what happens, despite the turmoil, death, anguish, broken hearts, loss, loneliness, fear, and frustration—what if we saw those negative moments as guides to better lives?

What if instead of seeing pain as the thing that crushes us, we saw it as what builds us and brings us to the place we’re meant to be? Stronger, wiser, more open, and ready to take on the world.

What if we stopped letting our pain control us, but instead allowed it to guide us? To take us to new beginnings, new starting lines? What if we allowed pain to shape who we would become instead of break us? What if we used it as a lesson—to teach ourselves, to teach others, to help us continue in this messy world?

Maybe it’s about looking at what we go through in a different light. Maybe it’s trusting that God has a plan for us, even in the hardest moments of our lives, and though we might not understand His timing or purpose or decisions, we must believe that He loves us and is with us every step of the way.

Maybe it’s about looking back and reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come, of all the things we’ve gone through, of the way our wrong turns lead us to right ones, or how our brokenness became healing when we let go and let fate be the guide.

Maybe it’s about believing that our loss isn’t meant to take away, but to bring us to where we’re supposed to be, giving us an open door, even when all we see is a closed one.

Maybe we just need to trust, to pray, to let ourselves be led. TC mark

Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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