The Fellowship of His Sufferings

The one part of being a follower of Christ that I did not realize when I accepted Him as my personal Savior was the part of “the fellowship of His sufferings”.  I had never even heard that terminology.  My personality is such that I feel things very deeply and even the thought of someone’s suffering causes me to hurt inside.  So, being a part of “the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings” is the part of this Christian life that I would run from.

Ken Gire talks about this very candidly in his book SEEING WHAT IS SACRED:

“God may call me at some time in my life, as He may call you at some time in yours, to play the role of the needy Christ.  Would you if He did?  Would I?

Honestly?

Honestly, I want to be like Christ.

But honestly, I want to be like the Christ who turned the water into wine, not the Christ who thirsted on a cross.  I want to be the clothed Christ, not the One whose garment was stripped and gambled away.  I want to be the Christ who fed the five thousand, not the One who hungered for forty days in the wilderness.  I want to be the free Christ, walking through wheat fields with His disciples, not the imprisoned Christ who was deserted by them.

This is the dark side of Christianity, the side we don’t see when we sign up.  That if we want to be like Christ, we have to embrace both sides of His life.  What else could it mean when the Bible talks about ‘the fellowship of His sufferings’?  How could we enter that fellowship apart from suffering?How could we truly know the man of sorrows acquainted with grief if we had not ourselves now grief and sorrow?”

Though I would never have chosen it, I was playing the role of the needy Christ starting from the day my husband was given a terminal diagnosis. For four and a half years it was in the form of what I know now was anticipatory grief that was thrown into full blown grief when Bob went to heaven.

Through it all I have gained a better understanding of not only the broken heart of Christ, but also the love that Christ has for me.  In all the years of my life aside from the time that I accepted Christ as my Savior, it has been difficult for me to separate myself from others in the world and become an individual in the eyes of Christ.  Picturing myself standing alone with Christ having a direct, intimate conversation was not something that I was able to imagine.

But, when I was singled out for “an assignment” and as I lay on the floor of my bedroom praying for my very ill husband, it became very easy for me to see myself alone at the feet of Jesus.  I was the needy one and He was the only one who could truly understand that and help me.

My personal relationship with Christ has changed from that relationship with Him that began when I was a nine year old girl.  Growth hurts and hurt is not something that I would ever knowingly choose, but it is a part of the process of really getting to KNOW God. Is it easy?  No.  It’s very hard.  Hurt forces us to focus on the only One who understand and can help us.  It drives us to Him who is standing there waiting for us with open arms. Christ longs for us to run to Him so that we can be caught up into His embrace and comforted as no one else could ever comfort us.

 

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12 Myths of Widowhood

BREAKING THE MYTHS OF WIDOWHOOD

by Ellen Camp and Dawn Nargi, Co-founders of The W Connection

Widowhood. It can happen to any married woman. We know …it happened to us. Whether your spouse battles a long illness or dies suddenly, one is never prepared for being a widow. Devastation, loneliness, sadness and loss of direction make widowhood one of the most difficult times in a woman’s life. Of all married women, 75% will be widowed at least once in their lives. Yet, women receive little or no training on how to be a widow. And, there is little offered to assist these women on how to deal with and adapt to the consequences of their loss. As a result, a number of myths prevail.

Myths about widowhood make this time even harder and more confusing. When a woman loses her spouse, friends, family and service professionals want to help, so they give widows advice and guidance. And, since widows are anxious for help to get through this devastating time, they listen. But experience has shown that much of this well-intentioned advice is based on myth instead of reality.

This article identifies the most prevalent myths about widowhood and, more importantly, describes the realities accompanying these myths.

Myth 1: When it comes to grieving, one size fits all

Reality: Different personalities, situations, and life experiences causes everyone to grieve and adapt to loss differently. Lots of different factors come into play: age, the length of a marriage, good/bad marriage, economic situations, children/no children, and career status, just to name a few. One size DOES NOT fit all. A widow’s goal should be to make the best decisions she can based on the circumstances she is facing.

Myth 2: There is a time limit for grieving

Reality: When widows are given time limits to “get over their grief”– be it six months, one year or two years – they feel inadequate and abnormal if they haven’t “gotten over it” in the allotted time.  At some point in the bereavement process, most widows realize that they need to learn new skills to adapt to the new realities of their lives.  This isn’t a time-limited process, but an evolving one, whereby the needs of widows change over time.  Different needs and tasks are relevant at various stages in the widows’ transitions.

Myth 3: You will “move on” or “get over it”

Reality: Widowhood is not a disease, sickness or mental illness. It is a fact of life, and there is no recovering. Women learn to live with it, cope with it and survive it. They learn to integrate this loss into the realities of their new life. With time, there is less frequent crying and less anger, laughter will come back, and focus shifts to the future.

Myth 4: The second year is easier than the first

Reality: As the shock and numbness fade, a widow becomes more clearheaded. She realizes the life that was built for two must now be lived by one. She needs to construct a new identity, and becomes increasingly aware of how many changes she will need to make in her life–and how many challenges she will be facing alone. She realizes that the real work is ahead of her, and that she must rebuild her life.

Myth 5: With time, life returns to “normal”

Reality: Soon after a woman loses her husband, she is typically supported by friends and family. Eventually, though, they must return to their “normal” lives. . After the death of a spouse, widows cannot go back to their lives as they were before. There is no “normal” for a widow. Regardless of age or circumstance, widows all have one thing in common: a woman who has lost her spouse has lost more than a life partner – she has lost her way of life. Widows must learn to incorporate this loss into their lives, and not burden themselves with the expectation that they have to return to “normal.”

Myth 6: Widowhood is reserved for the elderly

Reality: Contrary to popular belief, in the United States the average age of a woman who loses her spouse is 55. One third of those women will lose their spouse before they are 45, leaving many women to raise their children alone.

Myth 7: There is a linear, logical sequence to grieving

Reality: Widows experience many emotional ups and downs during the healing process. There are many days when a widow will feel she has made progress in retaking control of her life and adapting to the new realities of her life. And then, something happens that makes her feel like she is experiencing a major setback – it can evidence itself as a fit of anger, feeling very overwhelmed, or having a severe crying jag. The reason could be an anniversary, a birthday, hearing a special song on the radio, or running into an old friend. The healing process feels like a very crooked path for most widows. Grieving will happen for each woman in her own time, and in her own way.

Myth 8: There is a right way and a wrong way to grieve

Reality: When dealing with the loss of a spouse, there is no playbook. What

works well for one woman may not work at all for another. Widows often look for ways to determine whether they are “doing it right”, or ask themselves, “Should I be doing something I’m not doing?” Widowhood is a time of great self doubt for women, since the loss of their spouse most often results in a feeling of total loss of control over their lives. This is a time when widows need to be very self protective and do those things that feel right to them…not do things that others think they should do.

Myth 9: Time heals all wounds

Reality: A widow does not heal from losing her spouse. She adapts to her new reality. Sadness still exists, she experiences periods of anxiety, and tears come and go. With the passage of time, she gains more control over her emotions and her new life, and gains greater confidence. She has no choice – she must change, she must rebuild. And time helps her do this.

Myth 10: Don’t talk in front of the kids about their father’s death

Reality: When children lose a parent, they grieve and experience many of the same emotions as a grieving adult. The way they respond varies based on their ages, their stages of development, and their personalities. They want guidance about what these feelings mean and how to cope with them, yet may not know how to ask, or may not want to ask for help. Research has shown that there are several crucial factors in helping children cope with the death of a loved one, including the mother’s ability to be there for her children, to recognize that they are mourning, and to provide them with caring support as they deal with the emotions and changes facing them.  This definitely includes talking about the loss and its impact on the family.

Talking with your children about the death of your spouse is especially difficult when you are dealing with your own grief. However, it is during these difficult times that your love and support are especially important to your children. They learn to deal with their grief by watching how you cope. What’s more, helping others deal with their pain can sometimes provide us with a momentary distraction from our own hurts.

Myth 11: Strong widows don’t cry in front of others

Reality: Baloney! The grieving period is a very emotional time. Widows often feel sad, anxious, depressed, angry, guilty, lonely, and afraid –sometimes all at one time! Needless to say they are very vulnerable and feeling raw during these times. Widows do not need the added pressure of trying to hold in their emotions. If they need to cry, then they need to give themselves permission to cry, even in front of others. Hopefully, the people around them will understand. And if not, it‘s not the widow’s problem—it’s the problem of those who are uncomfortable.

Myth 12: Don’t talk about your husband–it only makes things harder

Reality:  The decision of whether or not to talk about her husband is up to the widow.  For some widows, talking about their spouses is part of their healing process.  It is an important way to hold onto a lot of good memories during a time of great sadness and loss.  Widows sometimes feel they are making other people uncomfortable, or that others do not want to hear these stories.  If talking about your spouse is important to you, “just do it”.  There are also some widows who prefer not to talk about their husbands.  Widows need to educate about what is right or wrong for them.

http://wconnection.org/pdf/toolkit/Breaking%20the%20Myths%20of%20Widowhood.pdf

In My Time Away……

It’s been almost a year since I have written anything on my blog. In this time away I have tried to focus less on grief, but discovered that the loss of a spouse is something that changes you deeply and affects every area of your life. You are not the same person that you were.

Priorities change. What was seemingly most important before becomes meaningless. Things you never thought about become forefront in your mind. Your thinking takes on a deepness that was not there prior to the death of your husband.

Sensitivities become more pronounced. You simply look at things differently. What may not have bothered you before can now make you sit up at attention. For example, you hear a wife complaining that her husband never picks up his sock and how much that irritates her. You want to shake her and say, “Do you not realize how little an issue that really is and just how very blessed you are to have your husband alive, well, and here with you?!”

If you have a personal relationship with God, that changes. Either you tell Him you are done with Him or you for the first time become really REAL with God. You honestly tell Him how you are feeling. If you are angry, you tell Him. If you are overwhelmed, you say so. If you are full of anxiety and fear, you cry out and let Him know. If you don’t know how you can live life alone, you express that. After all, He knows all of these things already because God knows our thoughts and our heart. You aren’t the first widow God has ever dealt with. I am a firstborn child, a people pleaser and a caretaker. So, I thought by voicing my true feelings after the death of my husband that I would be disappointing God. It wasn’t until my Christian psychologist told me that God is big enough to take whatever I could say to Him and still love me that I was able to finally be really REAL with God.

Friendships change. The death of your husband can bring fear to others. They realize the possibility that they, too, could lose their husbands and you are a constant reminder of that. Others aren’t able to see how as a single widowed woman you can now fit into their couples world. Some just need to move on and make new friends.

Responsibilities are totally different. If you have children still living at home, you become the sole financial provider. There is no husband to help carry the load, take care of the house and car maintenance, make financial decisions, balance the checkbook, tweak the monthly budget, etc. You are now in charge of everything alone. A widow living alone is totally and completely in charge of every part of her life.

Your emotional life is depleted. There’s no husband with whom to share your deepest thoughts, new ideas or dreams. Your love life is gone. There is no one to tell you every day that they love you; no one to pray with you about your deepest needs that you would never dare share with anyone else; no one to encourage you and just boost your spirit; no one to put their arm around you and tell you what a great job you are doing and how much they appreciate all that you do for them and for your family.

There are just way too many secondary losses to even name here. Yet, there are new things that you gain after the loss of a husband…..good things.

  1. Newfound confidence that you ARE capable of making good and wise decisions
  2. A renewed and closer relationship with God on a much deeper soul level.
  3. The reality that God is truly right here right now and will never ever leave you.
  4. Ability to look at life from a whole new viewpoint.
  5. A sense that there IS a purpose for you as a widow……a new purpose.
  6. A tenderized heart that now takes time to sense the needs of others.
  7. Ears that listen in a new way and hear more easily the heart of others.
  8. Patience.
  9. A gentleness toward others that you may not have had before.
  10. New strengths that rise up out of the ashes of grief and pain.
  11. Courage to let go of people in your life who don’t want to be a part of it, who aren’t good for you, or are no longer needed.
  12. Courage to let go of things in your life that no longer serve a purpose.
  13. Acceptance of new people and possibilities that God brings into your life.
  14. Wisdom in new areas of your life.
  15. Faith to take the next breath and the next step.

What about you? Perhaps you are newly widowed. I offer HOPE to you. You CAN get through the loss of a spouse. It’s not something that you can run through quickly. You have to have the courage and intentionality to face your grief and take whatever time you need to process through it. Make the decision to be a consistent widow. If it has been several years since the loss of your spouse, determine to take time to retreat, get quiet and simply look for the positive things that have come into your life. Write them down. Think about how very proud your husband would be of how far you have come and what you have been able to accomplish. If you have chosen to be in a personal relationship with God, thank Him for all that He’s brought you through and comfort yourself with the truth that He will never ever leave you or forsake you. He’s in this with you. He’s got your back, front, and both sides. You are not alone.

Living One Mindful Day at a Time

One of the things that I have purposely been thinking about, reading about and trying to incorporate into my life recently is the practice of being mindful and just living in this moment instead of worrying ahead about all the “what if’s”. This isn’t how I have lived my adult life. You see, I’m one of those people who is always thinking ahead, planning ahead, imagining what might happen and how I can deal with it. I see now that so much of my life energy has been wasted in doing this.

Today is the 8th anniversary of my husband’s journey to heaven. How appropo that my reading this morning in the book One Mindful Day at a Time by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD. was the following:

November 10

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

–Alan Watts

Change is movement, right? It’s the shifting of this to that. It’s the ending of one thing and the starting of another. Whether we asked for it or not, whether we like it or not, it’s pushing us all the time

We often resist. We try to plant our feet and stand firm. But change gives us a shove, and off we go.

Since we’re moving anyway, we might as well go with the flow. Resistance only makes it harder, after all. If we plunge in and mindfully move with the change instead of against it, we aligning with its transformative energies.

Might as well join the dance.

Now, I have never liked change. And the change of my title of “wife” to “widow” was not one that I asked for. And, I did resist it for a time because I, frankly, did not like it. However, in time I realized that this change was out of my control. I was hurting myself by fighting against it. Lying back in the current of my life, closing my eyes and learning to live in this precious present moment is the way that God wants me to deal now with my life. Is it easy? No. I tend to take back the reins of my life often wanting to control everything so to avoid any more hurt or pain. So, I’m a lesson in progress.

Mindfulness………something to consider.

Lessons from Hope

A year ago I began feeling like it was time to crack open my heart a bit. Since the deaths of my husband and parents I have built up very high walls around my heart to protect myself from more pain and possible loss.

After months of researching dog breeders, I chose a breeder in Texas and put down a deposit on a future toy Schnauzer puppy.

As I waited on the birth of just the right female, I made preparations for her much like you make preparations for the birth of a child. My emotions were a mixture of quiet expectation and yet fear of opening up my life to a new living thing. I began contemplating and praying about a name for her. I wanted a significant name that would be a good reminder of something I need in my life. On the day that the name “Hope” was suggested, I knew that was the right name because hope is something that I need to be reminded of every day.

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my HOPE in God! I will praise Him again–my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:5 

For I HOPE in You, O Lord: You will answer, O Lord my God.  Psalm 38:15

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? HOPE in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose HOPE is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them: who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects the strangers. He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked.  Psalm 146:5-10

This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have HOPE. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I have HOPE in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:21-25

…..we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the HOPE set before us. This HOPE we have as an anchor of the soul, a HOPE both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has enters as a forerunner for us. Hebrews 6:18-20

Finally the day arrived for Hope to fly to me from Dallas. The plan had been for a lady to hand carry her on the plane here to me, but hurricane Harvey disrupted those plans and the carrier was trapped in her home in Houston where all the airports were closed. So Hope had to fly from Dallas in a crate underneath in the pressurized area in the belly of the plane. Needless to say, when she arrived she was traumatized and a very needy puppy for the first three days. All that crying and neediness made me question whether or not I had made the right decision. Here I was a caregiver again! I began asking the Lord to show me what lessons I needed to learn from this little puppy and here are a few things that I have learned from her.

TRUST – Hope completely trusts me. Whenever we are training together, she keeps her eyes focused on nothing but me. Her sole care in in my hands. Oh, how much I need to do this in my relationship with Christ! Trust is something that was shattered the day Bob went to heaven because I couldn’t possibly see how this could work out for good for me. As time has gone on, I am slowly rebuilding my trust in God.

LOVE – Hope’s greatest desire is to be with me and to spend time with me. My goal should be to have that same kind of relationship with God and I have found that in these last almost 8 years alone, my relationship has become a deeper one. I am much more aware of God in the little things every day. He’s the one I talk to all of the time and my love for Him has grown greater even in the midst of my grief.

PLEASE – Hope wants to please me. Her greatest joy is to hear me praise her and exuberantly tell her, “GOOD GIRL, Hope! GOOD GIRL!” She wags her little stub of a tail as hard as she can and joyfully wiggles her body all over in excitement. Does pleasing God bring me joy like that? It should certainly be something I strive for even though I know that because I am human, I can never totally and perfectly please God.

DISOBEDIENT – As we have gotten to know each other better and Hope has become more comfortable with me, there are times when she chooses not to listen to my commands. She definitely knows what I am asking of her because she is looking right at me when I am telling her what to do. She’ll even start to sit and then quickly gets up before sitting completely.  She is either slow to obey or will not obey.  How like me this is! I can’t understand God’s ways and think that I know better than He does what is best for me. I find myself many times rebelling in my heart against His plan for my life now because it is not what I would have chosen at all.

COMFORTER – Little 5 pound Hope has become a comforter to me. She senses when my grief is great and will lie right over my heart. To me this is a picture of my comforter the Holy Spirit who prays the words for me when all I can do is groan with the deep pain I feel in my heart when I am missing Bob so much. A good, hard cry releases that grief and gives me a sense of relief until the next time grief ambushes me.

IN THE MOMENT – Dogs live in the moment. Hope is not thinking about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. I have always been a person that goes back and rethinks what happened yesterday that disturbed me and what might happen tomorrow. Living in the moment is something that I have begun to work on. It’s hard to keep my mind on the here and now, but I am finding that it makes life so much easier and less stressful.

One big surprise that has happened since Hope came to live with me 3 months ago is that I am sleeping 6-7 hours straight through on a majority of my nights. One of the biggest problems most widows have to contend with is lack of sleep. I would sleep 2-3 hours and then wake up before going back to sleep again only to repeat that same scenario. That is not restful sleep and has affected me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I tried everything but medication. However, it wasn’t until Hope arrived that this problem has been very much helped. Now, that just doesn’t make any sense to me and I can’t really figure out why she has made the difference, but she has and I am so thankful.

I’m sure that there will be more lessons that God has to teach me through Hope. Meanwhile, I will continue to be thankful for her – even when her daily times of puppy craziness are over the top. As soon as she works that energy out and tucks herself up against me in quietness and stillness, I know she is good for me. Who knew that a puppy can teach a widow so many things!

 

God Prepared Me to be a Widow

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Tricia Lott Williford who is the author of And Life Comes Back (her widow story), Let’s Pretend We’re Normal (single parenting) and her newest book You Can Do ThisThere were several enlightening moments, but in the second part of the interview when interviewer Rabbi Eric Walker began methodically and very carefully expounding on what happened to Tricia as a 4th grade girl, he opened up a whole new way for Tricia to look back on her life and see what God has been doing.

I began to wonder if God had done anything in my own life to prepare me to be a widow. What I am seeing is really quite amazing and I decided to share those things with you.

I was brought into the world by parents who fell in love with God a few years later. He became the focus of their lives and they daily sought after Him. Their example drew me to Christ and I accepted Him as my personal Savior at the age of nine. Though my faith was shattered the moment I lost my husband, that same faith is what has kept me from giving up on life and on God even in the midst of all of my questions.

My mother loved life no matter what challenges were thrown at her. She was a strong woman who never ran from hard things. In fact, she embraced them and learned from them. My memories of her serve as an example to me now. If she could be here and say anything at all to me now, it would be, “You can do this, Candy! You can do this!”

God designed me with an introverted personality that does not need another person around to energize me. Even as a young girl, I enjoyed being alone in my bedroom. I can see how that shaped me and prepared me to live life without a husband.

I was also given a voracious love for reading that helps me feed my soul. Not a day goes by that you don’t find me reading something. That love allowed me early on to seek out books written by other widows which, in turn, affirmed what I was feeling and am experiencing, showed me I am not alone in what I am going through and encourages me to continue on. Reading also allows me to travel to other places in my mind without the need for money. Certain books are like friends who draw you in, share their lives with you, and let you know that life can go on.

Despite being an introvert, God gave me a strong will and a desire to keep going even when I am too tired to go on and so very sad that my husband is no longer here doing life with me. That will keeps me from throwing up my hands and saying, “I quit!”

When I was seventeen years old, my parents moved our family of six from the Gulf coast of South Texas to the vast prairie land of Alberta, Canada. That move opened my eyes and showed me that even when change in my life happens that is out of my control, there is life afterwards. It may not look like the life that I had imagined for myself, but it can swing wide the doors of new ways of doing things and new heights to climb that reveal more strengths than I thought that I had.

As I continue to look back at my life, I come to the place where God gave me a husband who was always faithful and true to me and who always loved me unconditionally. He was my earthly picture of the love of God.

Those thirty-six plus years with Bob taught me many things that I would not have otherwise learned. Bob could fix anything around the house. From watching him, I learned how to problem solve and how to use tools. I never knew that I could do those things, though, until I became a widow. I draw on those resources so much now. He also saved us much money on car repairs. I learned that certain noises or issues can mean certain things. That makes me very aware now of any changes in the function of my car. I can’t actually make the repairs, but I know when my car needs to be taken care of by a reputable mechanic.

God also gave me a husband who had the forethought and wisdom to make preparations to take care of me should he go first. I cannot tell you how often I thank God for that and what a tremendous blessing that is to me.

The extended family that God designed for me also prepared me for being a widow. I have two aunts and uncles that love the Lord and have never turned their backs on Him. Their stories of what God has done and continues to do for them in their troublesome times are my inspiration. Their strengths and determination are my examples to keep on keeping on. I also have a special cousin who really understands who I am as a person. That gift alone is priceless.

Wisdom is another gift God prepared for me. During those early months of my first year of grief when the pain was so bad and the widow fog was so thick, I had the wisdom to know that I needed professional help to deal with complicated grief. This was the first time in my life that I admitted that I needed help and that was no small thing. When you come to the end of yourself, you have to find a way to go on and you cannot do that alone.

My relationship with God was never more close than it was the year leading up to Bob’s death. Looking back on my life, I can see that was preparing me to know God on a much deeper level and established a oneness with Him that I would need as a widow. Yes, there were times of great darkness when I could neither see nor feel God with me. Now I can see that He was there all along carrying me. God continues even now to carry me when I can’t walk, to walk beside me when I’m able to get back up on my feet and to be faithful to me every precious moment of my life.

Take the time to look back on your own life to see how God has prepared you for this place of widowhood. It’s am amazing exercise that will strengthen your faith. I also encourage you to listen to Tricia Lott Williford’s interview with Rabbi Walker and to read all three of her books.

 

Identity or Assignment?

“Being faithful to God doesn’t mean staying in one place, letting our feet get stale. It’s understanding we have different assignments during different times in our lives. Our identity doesn’t change, but our assignment does change. The moment I make my assignment my identity is the moment I get into trouble. We have to realize … Continue reading

The Good Part

In Luke 9 Jesus has just crossed the hot deserts of Samaria where he had given up hope of Israel ever receiving him as their Messiah.  He knew that his God given purpose to die on the cross for the sins of the world was going to happen soon.  He made his way to the home of Mary and Martha who were his friends hoping to share all of his emotions and find comfort.

Martha’s first thought when she saw him enter was food centered.  She immediately kicked it into high gear and began making preparations to serve him a meal.  But Mary, whom you always find mentioned as sitting at Jesus’ feet, ignores all of the flurry going on in the kitchen while she gives Jesus her full attention.

When Martha complains to Jesus, Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen “the good part”.

In the chapter titled “The Growth of the Reflective Life” of Ken Gire’s book SEEING WHAT IS SACRED, he better illustrates just what Jesus meant:

“Imagine a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings.  Hillocks of mashed potatoes and dressing, sluiced with gravy, hot buttered rolls, cranberry sauce, an assortment of salads, trays of deviled eggs, olives, sweet pickles, slabs of pumpkin pie daubed with homemade whipped cream.  All those things look wonderful, smell wonderful, taste wonderful.

Now imagine that meal without a turkey.

The portion around which all the other food is centered is the butter-basted turkey, cooked golden brown and filling the entire house with its mouthwatering aroma.  That is the “good part” of the Thanksgiving meal. 

Without intimate fellowship with Christ, the Christian life is just a buffet of so many side dishes and relish trays.”

How many times since the death of my husband have I asked God, “Why am I here?  What is my purpose now if I am no longer to be a wife?  What’s the point?”  How many times have you asked those very same questions?

I now believe this is the purpose of every widow – to chose “the good part” of learning how to have that intimate fellowship with Christ.  “How do I do that?” you may ask.  I would say that first of all you have to come to the point where you can be still.  That’s hard to do when you are struggling so hard to find your identity and you want to find it in a hurry because you don’t like being out in that place of limbo where grief throws you.  I can’t tell you how long it may take you to get to that point.  For some, it may come sooner than for others.

Once you can be still, then your heart will be ready to “hear” God’s still, small voice and the communication can begin.  You may feel His stirring in your heart as you are reading your Bible.  Or perhaps you find that Christian music fills up your heart with Him.  It may be that He speaks in the rustle of the pages of a book you are reading.  God can commune with you through the beauty of nature.  Theses are just a few of the countless ways that I am finding “the good part”.

I challenge you to stop struggling so hard against what grief has brought to you.  Instead, lean into it and just be still so that you, too, can find “the good part”.

 

What Does Easter Mean to a Christian Widow?

Never before has the truth of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection meant more to me than it has in the last 7 years of being a widow. This weekend as I meditate on all of those events, my heart feels so many different emotions – sadness because of the sins of the world (including my own) that caused God to send His only Son to earth to die for my sins; gratitude that God and Jesus love me enough to do this for me; confident hope that because I have repented of my sins, belief that Christ’s death paid for my sins, and belief that He rose from the grave and is alive, one day I will be with Him in heaven where my husband and other loved ones will be waiting for me.

I am a deep-feeling and very sensitive person to the point that whenever I really think about a sad or traumatic event or even the possibility of an event such as that, I can actually feel pain and fear and all the other emotions that go along with it. It doesn’t take much for me to imagine what the women who followed Jesus were experiencing. Shock at what was happening. Fear of how the whole thing was going to unfold. Anger that God nor any of the disciples were doing anything to stop this horrible thing. Piercing, gut-wrenching anticipatory grief as they stood by watching Jesus slowly die on that cross. Complete loss of hope that moment when Jesus took his last dying breath. Questions and utter dejection as they followed closely those carrying Jesus’ body to see in what tomb it would be laid. Duty as they went back and made ready the spices and ointments that they would use to prepare Jesus’ body after they had rested on the Sabbath day. Complete and total full-blown grief.

The day after the Sabbath, those same women got up at early dawn and went to the tomb taking the spices and ointments they had prepared. But, when they went inside the tomb, Jesus’ body was gone. There in the place where His body should had been were two dazzling angels. One was seated at the end where His head should have been and the other angel sat at the opposite end where His feet should have been. Do you see that mental picture?

This is a picture of the mercy seat which was the lid placed over the Ark of the Covenant. Once a year the Old Testament High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies that contained the mercy seat. He would sprinkle the blood of animals sacrificed for the atonement of the sins of the people.

Jesus shed his blood on the cross. His body was then laid inside a tomb. His resurrection occurred. Several women came back to the tomb to prepare his body after the Sabbath. Inside they found that the place where Jesus’ body should have lain was empty. At the place where his head and feet should have been were angels. Jesus blood had become the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. That empty place with the dazzling angels at both ends was a picture of that Old Testament mercy seat. No longer would the high priest need to sacrifice the blood of animals for the atonement of our sins. Jesus paid it all with his own body on the cross. He made that sacrifice giving us the opportunity to individually repent of our sins, accept Christ as our personal Savior and have the promise of eternal life.

For the Christian widow whose husband accepted Christ, this is HUGE. This means that not only will we see Jesus and heaven at the moment of our death, but we will also see our husband again some day. This is HOPE in every possible way, shape, or form. I can’t live without this HOPE.

 

Widows of Opportunity

Recently I began following a widows organization called Widows of Opportunity. The Cola Daily News in Columbia, South Carolina wrote an article about Kim Richardson and Widows of Opportunity  from which I want to share:

When Kimberly Richardson lost her husband in 2003, it could have been the end of her life. She was isolated and depressed, and very much in denial about what had happened. The love of her life and father to her child was killed unexpectedly in a car crash on Oct. 17 when he was just 27. 

At age 24 and with a 6-year-old son, life had turned upside down. After five years of denial and anger, Richardson came through her ordeal and founded Widows of Opportunity.

The nonprofit organization was created out of her own personal experiences with dealing with life as a widow. Richardson said that while family and friends initially surrounded her in the days and weeks after the incident, she did not have the consistent support that she desired.

Richardson wanted to make sure women who had just lost their spouses could access an outlet to deal with their grief as well as be around a community of women that have shared experiences.

“I want widows to know that you’re not alone, you’re not going crazy, and we’re here to listen to you,” she said. “There’s hope after loss.”

Today Kim continues her ministry with Widows of Opportunity and offers personal videos every week on her Facebook page called “Widows of Opportunity”. She also has a website that offers grief tips, motivational videos, testimonials as well as a 6 week grief course that can be done via Skype. Kim is also a motivational speaker and grief specialist.

What I especially love about Kim is that she is REAL. Her love and care for widows comes across so strongly in her weekly videos on Facebook and they always end with her beautiful smile and wave that makes you feel that you have been in a one-on-one conversation with her. If you have never gone for grief counseling or done any kind of grief work, seriously consider signing up for Kim’s 6 week grief course. Grief work with help is a must and this is a great way to start.