“What have you lost that you’d most like to find?”

That was the question at a Toastmasters Table Topics contest I recently attended, via Zoom, at the club in Minnesota I belonged to when I first joined Toastmasters.

“Table Topics” is a part of every Toastmasters meeting, and it’s designed to help members learn to think on their feet and organize their thoughts quickly by responding – for one to two minutes – to an open-ended question. In a Table Topics competition, the contestants are brought into the room one at a time, each responding to the same question.

I’ve taken part in a number of Table Topics contests over the years, and I often find that I can come up with a brilliant and perfect response – right after I’ve answered the question and left the stage. But whether I’m participating in the contest or just watching it, I always think about what my answer would be.

When I heard the question, “What have  you lost that you’d most like to find?” my first thought was, “You mean besides my waistline?”

I didn’t have time to give the question much serious thought because I was so focused on what the contestants were saying. One of them in particular took my breath away. She said she really couldn’t think of anything, but as she continued, she gave a powerful and inspiring response.

First she mentioned the biggest loss in her life, which was her husband, who died at a very young age. Then she talked about everything she found as a result of that loss. And even though I didn’t know her when her husband died, I’ve known her long enough and well enough to know about her grief and pain, as well as obstacles she has had to overcome. I’ve seen the quiet strength, the thoughtful nature, and the patience and wisdom she developed as a result.

Her response in the contest reminded me that it’s often the trials and tragedies we endure that make us strong. It’s not finding something we’ve lost that helps us the most. Recovering from the loss is what builds up our strength, stamina, courage, and confidence.

Feel free to ask yourself what you’ve lost that you’d most like to find. But then, go a step further and ask yourself what strengths and skills you developed because of your loss.

You may be surprised at what you find.

March 27, 2022
©Betty Liedtke, 2022

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