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by Dr. Brad Schwall
| Adults, Families, Grief and Loss, Spirituality

Loss, redemption and a new perspective

Redemption windows

With life comes loss. Loss brings lessons. Lessons lead to new ways of looking at life. This summer, I experienced a loss that led to a new perspective.

My entire career, I have had deep conversations with people about relationships, hard, difficult problems, perplexing situations, ruptured relationships, helplessness.

I have faced my own difficult times, situations in which I could not see what was ahead, times when I could not see a resolution.

My Dad died this past August. I was grateful that over the past few years, I had been reconnecting with my father. We were in need of that reconnection. Our relationship needed repair.

The morning of my Dad’s service, I reflected on my relationship with him and my life at that moment. I often write down my thoughts. That morning, I wrote the following:

“Be grateful for today. The past is the process. The process of learning. The present is redemption and the future is the fulfillment of lessons learned and new awareness. The present moment is the opportunity. Opportunity to live, be real, be close, be open, enjoy, apply what’s been learned, and create a future.”

I recognized that in that moment, I had experienced redemption. Because I had been able to reconnect, I had peace.

As I entered the chapel at the University of Richmond for my Dad’s internment service, the minute I walked into the chapel, the university’s chaplain welcomed me, pointed to one of the stained-glass windows, and told me that my Dad’s niche was beneath that stained-glass window which depicted the theme of Redemption.

When I wrote “the present is redemption” that morning, I had no idea my Dad’s ashes would be placed under the Redemption window.

Before my Dad passed away, I was able to hear he and my Mom talk about how they met and their courtship, about friends they still had connections with, about my Dad’s service to others, about my Mom’s nursing career, about their care and provision for my brother and me. In my last conversation with my Dad, I was able to affirm him and thank him for his support and tell him I loved him. My last conversation was a redeeming conversation.

Redemption means restoration of broken relationships. Redemption means replacing what is broken with what is whole. It can mean a new perspective. It can mean the start of a healthy relationship.

My pastor and mentor while at Baylor University, Dr. Dan Bagby, happens to now serve at my parents’ church in Richmond and led the service at the chapel columbarium. He shared the same benediction prayer at the service that he shared every week when I attended his church while at Baylor.

It had the same meaning to me at the service as it did in college, but looking back, I was able to see in a new way that throughout all those years, the God who offers redemption was there. The Redemption window gave me a new perspective. A new view of my past, and my present and my future.

My Dad and my family always loved Christmas, from family Advent devotional times to candlelight Christmas Eve services. This Christmas, celebrating the birth of Christ who made redemption possible has new meaning. As you celebrate Christmas, look for redemption and be grateful for the love of those around you.

Share this prayer with someone you know who may need to be reminded of the hope for redemption and of God’s presence in our lives.

May the Lord Christ
walk ahead of you,
to prepare and plan your path

be under you to support
and sustain you when you fall

for you and I will,

walk beside you,
companion on your journey, as you go

walk behind you
to complete and finish
what you must leave undone, unfinished

be within you,
to give peace and comfort on the journey.

But above all,
may the Lord Christ be over you,
watching, calling, guiding, challenging
now and forever more.

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