About a year ago, I met a beautiful and extraordinary young lady named Elena. Elena smiled from her eyes that sparkled in a way that you just knew she was special and full of unconditional love. She posted this quote on her Facebook page:
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli
My friend had invited Elena to our small group I was leading. Elena was fairly new to Dallas and very new to our church. She was very engaging. She shared how she’d been adopted at a young age from Romania and had relocated to Dallas from the Northwest. She seemed to have an adventurous spirit and was looking for her mission in life. Her demeanor and dialogue revealed she was a very loving and insightful person who could see straight through to a person’s heart. I was really looking forward to getting to know her.
It had barely been an entire week before I received news that she had died in a car accident. I cannot begin to tell you the thoughts that begin rolling through my mind. I found it difficult to process the death of someone I had just met who I was truly looking forward to knowing.
I did what most of us do these days. I looked at Facebook to learn more about her and what happened. She’d been out with friends after a work shift and lost control of her car during a pretty heavy rainstorm. I also witnessed the outpouring of love and sorrow from people she had embraced. It looked like Elena never met a stranger, and people felt like they were her best friend from the start. She made her mark with the love, adventure, and kindness she displayed. The earth took in many tears because of her death.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve grieved the death of friends that were rooted deeply within my heart and life. Friends that were tied to my soul…my spirit. The pain I felt from their untimely departure hurt from the depths of my being, and I would have given anything to touch them again or have the sound of their voices reverberate in my ears.
Why did they have to leave? Why couldn’t they complete the amazing work they’d started here on earth? The earth groaned at their deaths. They were astonishing and influential people who a staggering impact on the lives they touched just like Elena.
As I grieved their deaths and worked to accept reality, something was taking place inside of me. I began to internalize the highlights, the strong points, the features of their characters. I began to make them a permanent part of my being. I could see how their words and actions had changed me forever. They changed the DNA of my thinking with these words and actions, these seeds they planted in me. The question changed from why to how. How would I now live the life I’d been blessed with differently?
I adopted their courage, their love, their determination … the attributes that had changed my life.
They left a legacy in me and those they’d touched. As devastated as I was with their passing, a new sense of purpose and understanding burst alive because I no longer could call them personally for their wisdom, support, and passion; I had to find it within myself and let these elements evolve with my memories of them.
When people die in this earthly realm, they leave pieces of themselves especially with the people they were closest to and poured themselves into. While the ache may be present at any given time and at any given level, we can carry on in all the good we learned from them. We have the opportunity to be fortified and stronger than we could have ever imagined.
As I think about those who left well before I wanted them to, I cling to what they left with me. I embrace my destiny with a greater capacity because of what they gave me!
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” -Cynthia Occelli
Adrienne Pluss, A NEW ME Blog Contributor
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