Acceptance…..a Process

Teach me to do (Translation: “to deal with”) Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into a level country and into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10

After a coaching session with my Christian psychologist, the light came on in my head and it became very clear to me that I am having a very hard time accepting a lot of things in my life and especially the death of my husband and both my parents as well as God’s will for my life.

So I decided to write a letter to ACCEPTANCE and say all the things that I needed to say about that.  At the end of my letter I added a prayer to God and said:

God, I don’t know how to accept that Your way is the best way.  I just can’t see it, Lord.  You made me to be a very sensitive person and to have taken my husband, my mom, and my dad one after another in such a short time—–to have taken my complete support system here on earth—it just seems like the worst thing that You could have done to me.  It doesn’t say love, God.  It doesn’t feel like love.

I can’t figure it out.  I accept that You love me because You sent Your precious only Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have the gift of salvation.  I accepted that gift when I was 9 years old.  But, how are the deaths of the three people who loved me the most the best for me?

You are going to somehow have to help me accept this, Lord, because I just don’t know how to do it and I’m too tired and confused to figure it out.  I know that I’m just hitting at air and I’m using up so much energy doing that.  Help me to take off my boxing gloves and lay them at Your feet in acceptance of it all.

An hour after I wrote that letter, I met a lady who was a complete stranger to me.  She shared something with me that I know was straight from God.  She compared my life and Bob’s life to books.   Bob finished the last chapter in his book, but my book is not complete.  Until I accept that his book was completed, I can’t end that chapter of my book and begin writing a new chapter.  And if I don’t start writing that new chapter, I will never know all the good things that God has planned for me.

That analogy could not have been more perfect for me because I am an avid reader and love books.  That lady looked at me with tears welling up in her kind brown eyes as she shared this with me and I thought, “God,  I know this is You speaking to me through a complete stranger.  THIS is love.  Thank You for showing me again how much You love me and that You do care about what I am going through in this grief journey.”

So, my process of acceptance has begun.  This lady asked me why I was in a hurry to get through that acceptance process and reminded me that it took 36 years, 4 months, and 10 days to develop that great love that I had with my husband.  Why do I think that it would take me a short time to accept that he is gone?

ACCEPTANCE ……….a process.

Whirling on the Potter’s Wheel

Am I the pot that is raging against the POTTER?

Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you,  you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision.  Don’t lose heart in the process.  If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest

A Widow’s Prayer

Regardless of preparation or forewarning,

Here I am

Surprised by the sudden reality

Of once again being a single entity.

God, do you still recognize me

When I am but half of us

That used to approach your throne?

I am the one that remains on earth alone.

Death shreds the very fabric of completeness:

It renders embodied intimacy an impossibility.

The gaping wound where we were once bound together

Is bleeding profusely and I have no idea how to stop it.

My grieving heart guides my mind as it races

From one imagined memory to another

Wishing I could repeat life as easily

As my mind replays the past.

Dare I admit to you that I feel angry?

Why must I be the one left standing here alone?

How can I look at all the tight  lipped faces

That mask the fear of death we all share?

You have taken my life partner

Why must I continue to live?

Is my heaviness due to the departure

Of one who was as much a part of me

As my very self?

Or is it self pity camouflaged as rightful mourning?

Is this cloud that surrounds me

Black with despair because I feel

Abandoned and condemned to pull a yoke made for two?

Amid my many thoughts and feelings,

I find traces of thanksgiving

That my beloved is now perfect and complete

Healthily celebrating new life after death.

Even though we will no longer need each other to be complete

I pray that we may be together soon.

Oh forgive me gracious God,

You are the Creator and Sustainer of life.

The pain of loss is only partially eased by the intellectual

Understanding that You, God, are in control.

All too often divine destiny is neither understood nor simple to bear

Give me faith to believe in Your goodness

And peace to accept the path that lies before me.

Oh God, help me discern how best I may serve Your purpose

In this unchosen state and guide me as I begin to journey

With faltering steps.

In the name of Him Who was torn from a loving Trinitarium  union

To become human,

The One who remained single-minded to steadfastly embrace

His purpose for living……Amen

Author – Unknown

Letter to How Am I Doing

Written November 6th, 2010

Dear Bob,

This week it will be 10 months since you went to heaven and I have done things in these last 10 months that I never dreamed I would have to do or that I could do.  I’ve packed up 2 homes, listed them both, and sold them.  How strange it felt to do all of that for the very first time in my life and to do it alone.

I looked for a place of my own in town, found it, presented an offer, signed a contract, and then signed closing papers – all on my own.  I never even had a clue how all that process worked except for what I had seen on the TV show Property Virgins.

I’ve worked with our personal financial advisor and you know how very much I don’t like anything that has to do with numbers.  He knew that and took the time to teach me something about how it all works.  I tried my best in this fog that I am in to listen and to learn something and with God’s help, I did.

Your truck had to be sold because I can’t drive 2 vehicles and did not need to be paying double insurance.  I think that was the hardest thing for me to part with because it was something that you worked so hard to get in perfect running order and was what you drove all of the time.

Our car was the next to go.  It had over 286,000 miles on it and you weren’t going to be here to continue to repair it when something else went wrong.  The transmission had gone out during your last stay in the hospital and it was my responsibility to get that fixed.  I was so thankful that I already knew exactly what mechanic to take it to when that happened because you had used him twice before.

For the first time in my life, it was me doing the research on what kind of vehicle to buy to replace our old one.  I got so very frustrated at times doing that.  I didn’t want to waste money on buying something that didn’t get good gas mileage or didn’t have good ratings or good reviews.  And, I didn’t want to spend too much money either.  I needed something that was a much newer model, but not brand new because you had told me how much a car depreciates as soon as it is driven off the lot.   When I finally settled in my mind just what to buy and how much to spend, it took over 8 weeks for my dealer to locate it.  I was so blessed to have a good, honest dealer helping me with all of this process and we were finally successful.

I did the best I could to keep Mama and Daddy happy those few months before they joined you.  Back and forth I went to the nursing home every day taking them whatever they asked for and you know how demanding Daddy was.  It was so frustrating at times and I was so very, very tired and full of grief, but I’d set that aside the best that I could to keep him content.  But after Mama died and left him behind, he could not be comforted.

Living alone has been so hard, Bob.  The quietness is overwhelming at times.  I have more time to think now – too much time to think.  I cope with it the best that I can by reading.  I couldn’t read for several months after you died, but I am able to now.  I also listen to books on CD when I go to bed at night and it is somehow comforting to hear someone reading to me.  It usually lulls me to sleep for a few hours.  Then I’ll wake up and turn the CD on again so that I can hopefully get back to sleep.  Sometimes this action is repeated several times a night, but at least I am able to do something to keep my mind from going over and over and over all those terrible memories of our last months together.  It seems that the bad memories very much outweigh all the good ones and there are so many more good memories than bad.

I’ve had to swallow my pride and ask for help.  I wanted our son-in-law to teach me how to change the oil in the Murano, but he absolutely refuses to do that.  I KNOW I could do it because after all, I watched you change oil in our vehicles for over 36 years.  But, he won’t teach me.  So, I am resigned to asking him to do it because I don’t trust anyone else in those oil changing places.  I know how very careful you were about those kinds of things.

You would have scolded me if you had seen me in the store when I bought an ottoman.  It was in this big box and there was no one around to help me get it up to the counter.  So, I somehow got it down off the bottom shelf (it was so bulky and heavy) and set it up in front of my shopping cart.  I got about halfway to the front pushing it with my cart before a worker saw me and took over and even brought it out to the car for me and loaded it up in the back.  When I got home, I devised a way to get it into the house.  It was much easier to deal with once I cut the box away from it while it was still sitting in the back of the car.  I didn’t want to wait until someone could help me.  Sometimes those kinds of jobs sit around for days before someone has the time to stop by and give me a hand and that is so frustrating to me.

I’ve made several trips out of state since you’ve been gone.  I hoped that a change of scenery would help get my mind somewhat off all the grief, but it went with me.  So many times I would have to excuse myself quickly and head for the bedroom or the bathroom or the car to burst into tears.  Anything and everything seemingly triggers this deep pain I carry around in my heart.

Everyone is going on with their lives and everyone is so very busy.  I feel like a grain of sand on a beach – unnoticed.  Life seems to be passing me by and very few seem to even care or want to share in my grief.

I know they probably don’t want to really hear how I am feeling whenever they do ask how I am doing.  “How are you?” is such a formality much of the time.  No one really wants to know.

Two days ago I put together a wooden shoe bench to place in the front door entryway so that our grandkids will have a place to put their shoes when they come inside.  I was quoting Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” the whole time I was trying to get those long screws screwed in.  I ended up having to put a thick sock on my hand and then another thick sock over the allen wrench because it hurt my hands to try to get those screws into place and tightened properly.

Life without you is so different and so very, very hard, Bob.  There are just some things that God made men to do.  I don’t want to do those things, but now I must and am determined that I WILL do them.  I will do everything that I can do by myself.  Do I sound like a 2 year old child or what?  I do and there are times when I feel like throwing a tantrum just like a 2 year old, too.  But, I don’t.  I just sit quietly and cry asking God all of those “why” questions knowing that no answer He would give me would be good enough when all I want is you back whole and well to take care of me.

I look around me and it seems that everything is done in couples and I’m not a couple anymore.  I feel as bereft as a sailboat cut loose at the moorings or a ship lost at sea.  I know if you were here you could tell me not to give up and to keep on putting one foot in front of the other.  I’m doing that and I’ll keep doing that.  Walking alone through life is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Bob, and if it weren’t for having God in my life, I don’t know how I would do it.

I’m able to read some in my Bible now.  You know that I couldn’t even do that for a time.  There are still so many questions about things when I read and my faith is so shaken because my heart is so broken that God did not answer our prayers to heal you here on earth.  I refuse to give up on God now because He’s all that I have to get me through this life.  I can’t feel Him most of the time, but I see evidence that He’s here with me for how else would I have been able to do all of these things?  How else would I have made it through these last 10 months without you?

Just a Peek

Reposted by permission from Pete Corak

You know, if just “peeking into heaven” can so excite me, what will it be like when I’m actually there? If just reading about the throne and the Lamb in the midst gets my heart pumping, I’ll need a new super strong ticker to handle the adrenalin rush (or, its heavenly equivalent) that surges when I’m actually before that throne. Revelation 19 is this morning’s “peek” . . .

To read of a “great multitude in heaven” lifting their voices in praise like “the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder” (v.1,6) is, in and of itself, stirring. Actually, I’ve noticed throughout my readings in Revelation that not much is said in heaven in a quiet voice. Instead, it’s the “loud voice” of angels or of the redeemed multitude that’s referred to again and again. Imagine what our ears are going to have to be like not to pop from the decibel level of heaven! They’ll be super-charged . . . as they ring from the sound of loud, loud, voices . . . glorious, harmonious voices. And these voices will be proclaiming, “Hallelujah! . . . Hallelujah! . . . Amen! Hallelujah! . . .Hallelujah!” (vv. 1,3,4,6) Not since the Old Testament do we hear this word combo — “hallel” . . . praise . . . “Yah” . . . the Lord! You don’t encounter it in the New Testament until Revelation.

And what is it that invokes this repeated chorus of “Praise the Lord!!!?”

“Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to our God!!” (v.1) . . . “He has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality . . . the smoke from her goes up forever and ever” (v.2-3) . . . for He is “God who was seated on the throne” (v.4) . . . “For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns” (v6).

If just reading about it stirs my heart and creates within me a longing to join in this “Hallelujah Chorus,” what will it be like when I am there?!?!?! When my ears hear the voice from the throne prompting me to “Praise our God, all you His servants” . . . when I experience the thunderous call, “Let us rejoice and exult and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His Bride (ah . . . that would be me . . . and all those saved through faith by the grace of God) has made herself ready” . . . when, up close and personal, I hear those words, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (v.5,7,9).

And then . . . after my ears have been so stimulated . . . what kind of optic nerve will I need to allow my eyes take in His Wonder . . . to gaze upon His glory . . . to Behold my God!!! To behold the One called “Faithful and True” . . . the One whose “eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems” . . . the One who is identified as “The Word of God” . . . . the One who has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (v.11-16).

And all that, is just a peek!

I know the song says, “I can only imagine” . . . but can I really??? I can “taste it” . . . I can meditate on it . . . I can enter into it a bit . . . but can I really imagine it? I don’t know . . . .

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for You, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still? Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘Alleluia!’? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

(Lyrics from MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine”)

Say Amen

The word “amen” in Scripture means SO BE IT or WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.

Several years ago singer and songwriter Ginny Owens, who found herself blind at the age of 3, was working on the idea of a song entitled “AMEN”, but was never able to finish it until she met and made a very dear friend named Ronnell about 5 years ago. Ronnell was in her 20’s and had a very rare disease. She was a singer, song writer, and author.

They decided to work on the song together and it was especially precious because Ronnell was okay with her disease and whatever the Lord wanted to do with it. If He chose to heal her, she would sing for His glory. If He chose to take her home to heaven, she would sing for Him and for His glory and this would be the “Yes and Amen” of all.

Months later after Ginny and Ronnell completed the song, Ginny sang it at Ronnell’s memorial service and then put it away for years. It is only recently that she has brought it out to sing again.

Yearning

“Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.   Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  Hebrews 11:16

My husband Bob and I have never been separated for more than a week and then only a few times in our over 36 years of marriage.  To be separated from him now for two years has been the most painful thing in my life.

Bob was my best friend and confidant.  He understood me like no one else understood me.  He “got me” more than I let anyone “get me”.   When something happened in my life, he was the first person that I wanted to talk to and share with.  I could laugh with him or I could cry with him.  He was my comforter. We could ride for hours in the car never having to say anything because we just enjoyed being together.  Words just were not always necessary.

He is gone and I find myself so yearning to talk to him.  So, I pour out my heart to him on paper.  So many things he did shaped my life and made me the person that I am today.  Parents shape their children, but a husband can shape a wife just as a wife can shape a husband.  The two become one.

When Jesus told his disciples at the last Supper that he was going away, they immediately began to grieve.  When He died on the cross, their anticipatory grief turned to the deep, dark despair of full blown grief.  Then he rose from the grave and their despair turned to joy, but that joy was short-lived because He was not going to be with them for long.  No longer would they physically walk with Him and spend time with him here on earth.

As he ascended into heaven, how their emotions must have been so very mixed – just like my emotions were filled with great sorrow that morning that my husband went to heaven, but yet somehow great peace that he was finally home in heaven seeing Jesus face to face after living for Him all of his life.

Now I find myself not only longing for my husband,  but longing for heaven.  Heaven was something that was not very often on my mind, but that has changed.  I think about it every day wondering what it is like, what Bob is doing, what he is seeing, and what is going on up there, and how very happy he must be.

There’s so much now I’d really like to say.

I’ll take what you’ve instilled in me and try to be all I can be.

And walk the path that you have left behind because I sure miss you.

Life will never be the same with you not here.

Each passing day has brought much pain, but with God’s grace my strength remains.

I sure miss you, but heaven’s sweeter with you there. 

(song “I Sure Miss You”)

The Gift of Grief

“You know one of the great gifts of grief (a misnomer if ever there was one I know) is that it can make you “fearless”. It can make you more courageous than you ever believed possible because you have faced the unthinkable, the unspeakable, the unbearable.  You can do absolutely anything now, if it’s what you desire.

So as we approach Christmas and the end of this year, begin to think about what are you going to do that you’ve been putting off. What gift is grief going to give you this year or the next?”

Maureen Hunter

When You Can’t See the Whole Staircase

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Something that has not become known to me is what I am to do with the rest of my life.  For a long time I sat and stewed over it trying to get it all figured out until it became a very stressful struggle. Finally I realized that all I need to know for right now is what it is that I am to do each day – not the future – and there are many days when I wake up wondering what my day holds.  I can’t see that whole staircase.  So, I am taking one step at a time.