I’ve learned to lose; you can’t afford to.

He doesn’t know how to lose people.

He’s got dark circles under his eyes, and he looks at me with empty hands in his lap — the things I would give to fill them, so heavy that he could forget the engagement neither of us would wish on anyone, the ministry that slipped through his fingers, the friendships he reached after even though they were already gone, the funeral he spoke at while his aunt sobbed in the front row, the twenty-two years that had finally caught up to him and forced him to wade through the person each loss has made him.

Because loss makes us.

And he doesn’t know how to lose.

He’s lost so much in two years, and there are weeks when he feels like he’s losing more everyday.

So he looks at me with his dark eyes and empty hands and asks me how it’s done.

Because we are told to expect life to be hard, and to prepare for harder than our expectations; we are told to move on and let go, and the best of us can make having open hands sound romantic, but the truth is that you can say you have given it to God and still have the days where you’re expecting your best friend to come through the door at work or remember the way it felt to drive through town with your cousin and the top down on a fall day. For just a moment, you’ll wonder about God — and then you blink, and remind yourself that you have “let go.”

But have you let go?

Because he’s waiting for me to tell him how to let go, how to lose people.

Me? Twenty-two years of being too angry. At twenty-three, finally feeling like it’s okay to lose people. Until now, I spent most of my life being mad at God for being God.

It wasn’t fair that He got to let people in and lock them out, especially if He wasn’t going to tell me why. It wasn’t fair, the way He got to be in charge and move the chess pieces of my life.

But can I tell you something?

It’s in the deepest, darkest, loneliest, most hallow pits that you find a newer light than the one you came from. And it’s brighter and whiter, shining on new things you couldn’t see before.

So I look at this man, with his dark eyes and empty hands and his wondering. I smile and say:

“I think the people we love—make us. So when God wants to make us something else, He has to get rid of those people. And it hurts—God, it hurts. That’s why they call it ‘pruning’ and ‘molding,’ and it’s why it feels like you’re loosing who you are and the only truth and life you’ve ever known—because you are.”

Sometimes you have to lose the people you love—the people who make you—so God can make you into something else. But that person is always better. Even if it takes a few years to not feel so unfinished.

You’re not finished.

He’s not finished.

He takes, but He gives.

You’re gonna lose.

You’re gonna be new.

And maybe you’re never really losing at all. Even though you’ve been laying bricks for too long now, with mud under your nails and rain falling down, and no one there to sink into the dirt with you—but you’re building.

You’re losing, but you’re being built.

And that’s how you lose people.

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