Surrender is an Intersection

There comes a point in every widow’s life when she must surrender her sense of identity so that who she was and what she did is stripped clean.  The time for that to happen is different in each widow’s life and no one can tell her exactly when that time is.  It’s a time that she arrives at through the wooing of the Holy Spirit.

I came to that point and am finding it to be the only way to be utterly at peace with exactly where I am now at this very moment.  I have to let God do His growth work in me so that the identity that I allow to fall away can be transformed from who I was to who I am created to be at this very time and this very moment in my life.

Is it easy to get to this point?  No. Definitely not.  I fought against it and struggled with it for long time.  In fact, I embraced the struggle wholeheartedly for it was only as I embraced it that I could totally process through it.  But, at the end of the struggle I found it necessary to come to that place of surrender in order to  begin moving towards the “new me”. Coming to that place of surrender doesn’t mean that the struggle is completely finished.  It’s not.

I find it to be sometimes a daily battle because this is not the life that I pictured – EVER.  Somehow I had it in my mind that my husband and I were going to live forever sitting together in our rockers on the front porch rocking until Jesus comes. Where do I find out who I am created to be?  There is only one place and that is the Bible.  My friendship with the Bible can take me from who I was as the wife of Bob Feathers to the woman God intended for me to be now as a widow.

My being in this place didn’t surprise God.  He knew before I was born that I would be here and He made preparations for me ahead of time to help me through the anticipatory grief, the initial shock on the day my husband died, all those feelings of betrayal, the months and months of questioning “WHY?!” and “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!”, the realization that I needed help to process through my grief, the courage to ask for that help………….so many things that I have experienced and continue to experience. Finding out who I am to be now begins with an act of obedience to simply read or listen to the Bible every day.  Only God’s Word can reveal to me who I really am and illuminate the path that God has created for me to walk. The journey ahead is far more important than the past left behind.

Advertisements

Moving Through This Life Together

Early this morning on my way back from letting my brother’s dog out, I saw something that caught my attention.  Off to the side of the street was a tall athletic looking young man with a stop watch running alongside a short young woman. She was obviously tired and struggling to keep up with him and began to lag behind.  The young man, whom I could tell was coaching her, looked back and saw that she was close to stopping.  Instead of continuing to run on ahead of her, her turned back to run towards her.  His hand was gently motioning to her as if to say, “Come on!  You can do it!  Keep going!”.

Immediately what I was seeing became God and me.  There are times when we are running along together that I become discouraged and start to lag behind.  It’s too hard and too painful.  God doesn’t just look back at me and keep running away from me.  He turns back and runs toward me gently encouraging me to keep going.

I’m not running this race alone as a widow.  Even though I cannot see Him, I know without a shadow of a doubt that He has sat with me in the early days of shock and grief, crawled with me when I was able to move again, shuffled along with me as I began to get my bearings, and is now walking alongside me as I continue to find my way through each day.

God is not just some spiritual being that is up there floating around as He looks down on earth.  He’s much more personal than that.  I’m not just a dot in this world full of people.  I’m so much more than that because He loves me and I love Him.  Admittedly having faith and believing in a God that I cannot physically see is challenging at times, but in my heart I KNOW He is real.

It’s God and me together now sometimes crawling, sometimes shuffling, sometimes walking and at times loping alongside each other. I can’t tell you  how comforting it is to know that I am never alone.

 

Prayer: An Epic Story

One of the things that I have struggled with is the question “Why didn’t God answer my prayer” in regards to the life of my husband. Jerry Sittser, who lost his wife, mother, and one of his daughters all in the same car wreck, also struggled with this question and wrote the following:

“An epic story always covers a huge canvas.  Central to the plot of an epic is a journey, undertaken by an individual, family, or community, that involves some mission or quest.  The main characters must locate a buried treasure, restore a king to his throne, solve a puzzling mystery, or make their way home after years of wandering.

However happy the ending, an epic often has a great deal of darkness in it–tragedy, suffering, betrayal, and terrible sacrifice.  There are strange twists and turns that leave us breathless as we wonder whether the characters will complete their quest.  If anything, struggle is necessary to the nature of the story itself.  The success of the quest becomes all the more meaningful because of the disappointments the characters experience along the way.  The resolution comes as a joyful relief in the face of what once appeared to be unconquerable.

Light shines all the brighter considering the darkness that threatened to prevail.

I believe that prayer is an epic story.  In the end we receive answers, for Jesus himself promised it would be so. But the problem is, all of us pass through stretches of time—sometimes long stretches of time–when God does not seem willing or capable of answering our prayers.

Struggle and suffering are bad enough in themselves, as we all know. They are worse when we cry out to God for help, believing with every bit of faith we can muster that God will hear our prayers–yet still feel unheard.  Such experiences can test our faith to the breaking point.

It wouldn’t be such a serious question (Why didn’t God answer my prayer?!) if we didn’t take prayer so seriously. Perhaps how we respond in the face of such mystery is more important than whether or not we ever find an answer to the question itself.”

Jerry Sittser/When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer

Letter to Bob at 3 1/2 Years Into My Journey

Bob,

Three and a half years have passed and I miss you as much now as I did the day you died.  Grief still ambushes me at times and there’s not a morning that goes by that I don’t become fully conscious and think of you wondering what in the world you are doing up there.  I like to close my eyes and really dwell on what heaven must be like, but I know that my imaginations don’t even come close to the truth of it.  Oh the joy that awaits those of us down here who know Christ!

My purpose on this earth isn’t finished – whatever that purpose may be.  I’m still looking for it, but have finally realized that it’s much less stressful for me to just wake up every day and say, “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today”.

It was suggested to me that more counseling would be beneficial.  The girls have gently told me that for awhile, but I couldn’t see the need for it.  Someone else helped me to see things more clearly.   After researching christian counselors in this area I believe that I have found the right lady for me to work with. Willingly I am ready to do whatever work  needs to be done to deal with more issues in my heart and to help me find joy and peace.

Several friendships that I thought were good ones have fallen by the wayside and that has been difficult for me. I have processed through that and accepted that these were friends were in my life just for a time.  God knows how fully I commit myself to what I perceive as real friendships and how hard it was for me to move on.  But, move on I have and I am grateful for the tools I was given during my first months of intensive grief counseling to help me do that.

I have continued to do things that I would have never tried had you been here with me and have surprised even myself.  Some things I have been able to complete alone.  Others I have not, but I don’t consider those as failures……just adventures that I needed help with.

There are two new grandchildren who will make their entrance into this world before the year is over.  I cannot help but think how very proud and happy you would be.  Yet, I also feel some sadness at how those precious little ones will never have the privilege and joy of hearing your big laugh, feeling safe in your arms as you talk to them, enjoy the rides around our big yard out in the country that you would have gladly given them on your John Deere riding mower, or gotten to see how much you love their Mama and Dad and all the rest of our sweet family.  I’ll do my part to tell them all about you and show them the collage of your life that is hanging on a wall in my house.  You’d be so very proud of all of your grandchildren, Bob.  They bring me so much joy and I love lavishing my love on them the best that I can.

Our daughters continue to give their lives being the best wives and mothers that they can be.  It makes me smile to see so much of you in them.  Sometimes I think they don’t do enough for themselves and I remember how I was the very same way at that time in my life.  But, they are so much wiser and spiritually grounded than I was at their age.  That’s because of you, you know.

Life is empty without you, but I am working to allow God to somehow fill that void that you left in my life.  You asked me a few days before your left this earth if I was going to be okay.  I couldn’t answer that question when you asked it because I didn’t want to even entertain the idea that you might go to heaven.  Your death has forever changed me and my new counselor tells me that I may never get over it.  But, I have a “new normal” now without you.  It’s not a normal that I want, but I was not given a choice.  God made that choice for me and even though I still cannot see how this could possibly be better for me, I will continue to try to trust that it is.

Here I am facing my 4th Father’s Day without you never dreaming that my first Father’s Day without my dad would also be my first Father’s Day without you.   Always and forever I honor you for the influence you had in my life and for the Father that you were to our four daughters. Your legacy lives on!

I’ll see you again!

I’ll see you again!

I’ll see you in heaven some day.

For now it’s good-bye.

With sorrow and sigh.

But I’ll see you in heaven some day!

The Battle of Trust

Has trusting God become an issue in your life?  Nancy Lee Demoss spoke to Mark Vroegop about the battle that he and his wife had trusting God after a loss:

Hard is hard. We don’t want to pretend that it’s not. Being a good Christin doesn’t mean pretending that hard isn’t hard.  But hard is not bad.  In fact, you have found that hard is in the long term good – that it produces good fruit in your lives.”

Mark’s response was,

“There were some days when that trusting the Lord thing did not go well for both of us.  So, this idea of trusting the Lord is a fight.  It is a battle and there were some days when we would have to end the day confessing, ‘Lord, today was not good–we were not victorious.  We’re just going to believe that You understand our frame and You’ve never given us more than we can bear, but we’re struggling and we didn’t do well today.  You know it.  We’re sorry.  Please forgive us and help us tomorrow.’  And we did that again and again and again. 

It isn’t just this one-for-all trust the Lord, ‘Hey, I’m over the mountain.’ But it’s just this rugged daily battle that goes well.  There are times when it’s really, really hard, and times when you don’t do it very well. Keep trusting the One who keeps us trusting.”