I have a friend who is a land surveyor in the piney woods of East Texas. One morning over coffee he told me about a job he was going on that involved a boundary line that had shifted due to the effects of erosion and accretion. That was a new one to me, so I asked him to explain.
The land records showed that the boundary line between two properties ran down the middle of a creek. However, over time the creek had changed course because the running water had cut into the bank and creekbed in places (erosion) and redeposited the dirt and sediment on the bank and creekbed in other places (accretion). Because the course of the creek had been altered so much, the property line was no longer where it used to be. My friend’s task was to determine where the line had been before the creek changed course so that permanent boundary markers could be put in place.
Erosion and accretion. Loss in one place meant gain in another.
You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?
I have a favorite book on grief: A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser. I quote from it often. The book’s subtitle does what a subtitle is supposed to do; it summarizes the message of the book and tells the reader what they’ll learn by reading it. Sittser certainly delivered through his subtitle: How the Soul Grows Through Loss.
When I first learned of this book, I wasn’t seeing much growth in my life. Honestly, I was just trying to get through the day. But I was open, ever so slightly, to the possibility that grief might bring about some good in my life. Perhaps my soul could grow.
As I was pondering this, it occurred to me that I actually was changing. I took a quick account of the year or so that had passed and saw that my life was different in the following ways:
I had become more empathetic toward the sick, lonely, dying, and sad.
My circle of friends had gotten larger and many of my friendships had gone deeper.
I was learning to cook.
I was becoming a more involved parent.
I was developing a higher level of personal confidence and courage.
I was honestly evaluating what I believed about God and whether I would trust Him.
I was gaining an eternal perspective while also learning to value moments and days.
I had simplified my schedule and clarified my priorities.
I was making better use of time, becoming more productive and efficient.
Some of those changes mattered more than others, but the point was that I was making progress. I was growing. My life wasn’t all about erosion, there was some accretion happening, too.
You may not be ready to embrace this yet, but I sincerely hope the day soon comes when you can, because it is true, your soul can grow through loss.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
© 2022 by Tim Grissom. All rights reserved.