Tragedy and Limitations

Some limitations will always be there and we must learn to live alongside them. They put confines around the types of outcomes we can expect to experience in life and we can only learn to tolerate or accept that reality.

Here’s an example. I have a friend who was once engaged to a woman who died, tragically and unexpectedly, in a car crash. He never got the experience of being married to her, neither the joy nor the sorrow of marriage. He will never raise children with her. This was an outcome he anticipated, even expected. Her death placed a confine on his life: he will never see the future they planned. He can’t overcome that.

Let me be clear: he may very well find a happy and hopeful future with someone else. We could call that a certain kind of “overcoming,” because his life would not be defined by grief and victimhood. That would be legitimately good. But, at the same time, he will never see the future he planned with his fiancé and that is a reality that can only be grieved, mourned, and, hopefully, accepted as he enters a new phase of life. In that sense, specifically, he can’t overcome the tragedy. What I mean is, he can’t erase it from existence and he will always be impacted. He can’t bring his fiancé back nor change the past. He will carry it with him. Because he will carry this pain with him, there will be limitations. He will live with unmet expectations, remorse or regret (potentially), disappointment, shock, sadness, anger, and more. Likely he will struggle with emotional intimacy for a time because his burden is great. The list could go on. His life has confines now. He cannot marry the person he wanted to marry. Because of that, his future is limited to options other than the one he planned on. While this is deeply sad, this does not have to be hopeless, and we’ll talk more about that in the days to come.

The point is, life will throw things at us, at times, that we cannot undue, ignore, or simply move past. They must be confronted, somehow, some way and, even if we’re able to confront them, they may still impact us moving forward. In short, life’s difficulties can be so great that they place confines on us. They limit us and they limit our potential outcomes for our lives.

Here are some questions we’ll try to tackle in the next few days:

What do we do about this? How do we, as faithful people, respond to these limitations? Is the acknowledgment of these limitations an example of hopelessness?

Stay tuned.