One day this week I received a text, private message or email from four different widows all saying that they were really struggling and in a dark place. I, too, was discouraged. Each of us are in different times and places in our widow journey.
As I began to think about what might be the common denominator of each of our struggles, I discovered that they all boiled down to one word – CONTROL.
When your husband dies, grief tries to drown you and then hurls you onto “Me Island“…….especially if you are a widow with grown children living outside your home. Life being married changes to life being single and living on your own. There are countless hours in the day to just think about you.
At first it is vitally necessary for a new widow to pitch her tent on “Me Island” in order to go through all of the things that she must just to survive her first year. As the reality of life alone hits her during her second year, she settles down in her beach chair as the cool breezes blow wrapped in a blanket with her toes buried in the warm sand. She’s become familiar with “Me Island” and finds it to be a place where she feels safe and comforted. In fact, it may take her a couple of years there to process through whatever God brings to her attention in order for the widow to begin becoming the woman that God intends for her to be.
Cynthia Bezek, author, editor, and widow from Colorado Springs, wrote about control in her July 30th blog post entitled “Let It Go”. She talked about an experience she had during a five day silent retreat as she sat on a quiet beach watching the waves while waiting for the sun to go down.
“A gull caught my attention. It was standing on a flat-surfaced rock as the tide started to come in. At first the waves rushed around the rock where he perched. After a while, waves started to splash over his rock. Before long, the waves would completely cover the rock before receding.
I expected to see the gull fly away. But he didn’t. Instead, he would jump over the wave and then settle back on the rock as it rolled back to sea. Eventually, he couldn’t jump high enough. But he still didn’t leave. He just started flapping and shot up – vertically – until the water receded off his rock.
That was one stubborn bird, I realized. He was not going to leave his rock come hell or high water.
What about you? I sensed God quietly ask. Are you determined to hang on? Will you try to control, no matter what? Or will you release it to Me? Will you let it go?”
I, too, find myself holding onto things trying to get back some kind of control of my life. Then I think about the control business and know in my head that I have never really been in control of anything because I gave God control of my life when I made Him my personal Lord and Savior. However, my tendency has been and still is to try to take back that control and make my life what I want it to be. It becomes this vicious cycle that is so energy draining.
There was a time when I was going through the dark valley of anticipatory grief and denial near the end of my husband’s life. I remember my mom looking at me and asking, “Don’t you like to go to God’s school to learn things?” Without a thought my answer was a resounding “NO, because it hurts too much!” Mama’s quiet response was much different. She said that she had learned so many things about God in the hard times of her life. She had such a deep abiding relationship with Him that gave her an aura of peace. Somehow she had found the way to release her control.
I will be completely vulnerable and honest here and tell you that I am not there yet and I know that I am not alone. That’s my struggle. CONTROL or RELEASE CONTROL. CONTROL or RELEASE CONTROL. God knows that I am such a slow processor when He brings these things to my attention and it’s a wonder He doesn’t just give up on me. But, God doesn’t do that.
How about you? Are you that seagull standing on a rock struggling with CONTROL or RELEASE? What has been your experience in just letting go and allowing God to take control? If you will read Cynthia’s blog post, she will tell you the rest of what happened on her silent retreat.