Introducing New Widow Lorraine

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Today I would like to introduce you to one of my blog readers Lorraine who became a widow just 6 months ago.  She and her best friend husband Mark were married for 43 years.  Lorraine first came to my blog after searching google for widow information to help her own widowed aunt.  Never ever did she dream that she would become a widow a few years later.

Lorraine has now begun her own blog called The Continuing Journey about her widow journey that continues to be a blessing to me.Last night she shared a devotional from Grace Gems that so spoke to me and I felt I had to share it with you this morning with Lorraine’s permission.

Love Photographs Them in the Heart!

(William Thoseby, “Foot-prints on the Sands of Time” 1869)

“The righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death!” Isaiah 57:1-2

It is true there are strong consolations and compensations in Divine providence, but even the Christian consolations cannot drink up all the heart’s sorrow in the hour of separating death. We cry with truth, but yet in tears, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” “Yes in all these things we are more than conquerors,” but we are conquerors with bleeding wounds and scars of the conflict upon us.

When a dear life is taken from the near presence of our own life, no antidote of reasoning, nor cordial of promise even, can make us oblivious of the loss. In the moment of most entire submission and most exultant faith–we feel the pang of separation. Our affections grope and wander uneasily in the vacancy that has been made, and we return home companionless and sorrowing. We are awed by the voiceless room, and the vacant chair affects us with sadness. Every relic and memorial of the life that is ended, tells us that it is ended indeed. The dearly departed live in the chambers of our soul. We see their lovely forms, hear their sweet voices, feel their tender touch, and almost grasp their hands. Love photographs them in the heart!

When therefore a dear life is taken, the person who is left must suffer. And since so it is, we come, through “many a winding maze” to conclude that thus it ought to be. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” “Now we see through a glass darkly.”

But in our ignorance and blind unbelief, we are too apt to arraign the rectitude of the Divine procedure, exclaiming:
How bewildering is this afflictive dealing!
How baffling is this mystery!
Where is now my God?
This sickness–why prolonged?
This thorn in the flesh–why still buffeting?
This family blank–why permitted?
Why the most treasured and useful life taken–the blow aimed where it cut most severely?

Hush the secret atheism!–for the day is coming when every dark hieroglyphic in the Roll of Divine Providence, will be made plain and clear. When what are called . . .
“dark providences”
“harmful calamities”
“strokes of misfortune”
“unmitigated evils”
trials, sorrows, crosses, losses, adversities, sicknesses–
the emptied cup,
the withered gourd,
the lingering illness,
the early grave,
the useful lives taken,
blossoms prematurely plucked,
spiritual props removed,
benevolent schemes blown upon
–over all these, will not this grand motto be written as in characters of living light–which may be read on anguished pillows and aching hearts, yes, on the very portals of the tomb itself, “This also comes from the LORD almighty; He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom!” Isaiah 28:29

Let us “be still and know that He is God.” “We know” says the apostle, “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28

We do not always see the bright light in the clouds, but it “shall come to pass that at evening time, it shall be light!”

Child of sorrow! Mourning over the withdrawal of some beloved object of earthly affection–dry your tears! An early death has been an early crown! The tie sundered here, links you to the throne of God. You have a Christian parent, a brother, a sister, in Heaven! You are the relative of a redeemed saint. “He shall enter” (he has entered) “into peace”–the “rest which remains for the people of God!”

We can only see one side of a Christian’s death–the setting side, the expiring breath, the vanishing life, the cold clay corpse. We cannot see the risings on the other side–the angel convoy, Heaven’s open gate, the Savior’s welcome of the enraptured departed one. Yet it is none the less real.

Death to the Christian, is a birth into heavenly life–a life more real, more sweet, more calm, more pure than could be enjoyed on earth.

“Beloved! think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, but rejoice!” Soon you shall hear the sweet chimes wafted from the towers of the heavenly Jerusalem, “Enter into the joy of your Lord!” “The Lord God shall wipe away all tears from off all faces!”

Christian Mourner! Do not go to the grave to weep there. The devourer shall be devoured! The resurrection shall restore to you, all that death snatches away. And then, Oh! joyous hope, “death shall be swallowed up of life!” Glorious day! “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection!”

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The Widow Opportunity

Widowhood is an opportunity given to me for God to do something in my life.  Now its admittedly easy for us to feel helpless and defeated and believe that we have to survive by our own strength – especially in the first two years after the loss of our husband.  We may even find ourselves seeking relief from grief in the wrong places.  To see myself as a victim is to displace God in my life.

My faith has been greatly tested as has been my devotion and obedience to Christ.  Through all of my questions, however, I chose to hang onto God and not turn my back on Him.   All kinds of wrong attitudes have been raised to the surface giving me the opportunity to deal with them and giving God the opportunity to sift, sand and sculpt me in this purification process.

Through it all God has demonstrated His love for me even in those darkest of times when I could not feel His presence.  I look back on these first years and can see how He orchestrated every moment of the packing, listing, and quick sale of two homes with property; how He had a new home built a year before my husband died and kept anyone from buying it until I needed it because it was almost exactly the kind of home I had been praying for; how He had the perfect personal financial adviser in place to lead me and guide me not only through the after death process but for the days ahead……………there are just so many ways He has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate His love for me.

The question now is am I willing for God to accomplish His purpose in my life  in order to equip me for all that He has left for me?  If so, what must I believe in order to be able to continue walking through this grief process triumphantly and respond to it wisely?

I must believe that God is in control.

I must believe that God has a specific purpose for my life.

I must believe that God is able to demonstrate through my life perseverance under pressure.

I must believe that God will use my grief to develop Christ-likeness in me and make me into the woman that He designed me to be.

I must believe that my grief will help me to measure my spiritual maturity in order to see where I am in my spiritual growth.

I must believe that God is walking with me not only in my grief, but for the rest of my days here on this earth.

I must believe that by God’s grace and power, I AM going to make it without my husband.

The most important thing in my life is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I have a choice to either walk alone or to walk with Christ.  A widow without Christ has no hope.  A widow with Christ has the only true, ultimate, unchanging, eternal friend carrying her when she needs it and walking beside her when she is able to walk.  In this Friend’s outstretched hands is not only the gift of eternal life but eternal HOPE.

If you are a widow and have accepted Christ as your own personal Savior, are you willing to take this opportunity of widowhood in order for God to equip and accomplish His purpose in your life?

If you are a widow and have never accepted Christ, are you willing to do that now?  If so, I would love to share with you how you can do that.

In Quietness and Confidence

(Written 14 months into my grief journey.  I find that now almost 3 years later I am not plagued with the “Why?!” questions so much anymore. My questions now are “How?!  How can this be a good plan for me, Lord?!”)

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.  Isaiah 30:15

As I awoke this morning, the first thing I said to the Lord was to please help me to somehow know that His plan for me is a good plan.  Immediately the phrase “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” came to mind and I decided to further investigate to see more clearly just what that means.

In returning” means in withdrawal.  It means retirement.  I have to be able to withdraw now from the wife chapter of my life and retire.  Usually a person retires because they choose to retire, but I did not choose to retire from wifehood. That is a difficult thing for me to do after being a wife for two thirds of my entire life.

The phrase “and rest” speaks of having a quiet attitude of rest.  Hmmmm…an attitude is something that I decide in my mind.  It is something that I feel.  It is a personal decision that I make. I have to decide to have an attitude of rest.

As I withdraw from the wife chapter in my life and retire taking on an attitude of rest from it all, I “shall be saved”.  I will be victorious in widowhood.  What does that mean?  I do not begin to know how to be victorious in widowhood.  In THE WIDOW’S MIGHT Jan Thompson says, “When He (God) requires of you a new route, a detour you don’t want to take, He will provide the guidance and grace to take it.”  On the other side of that new route is freedom from the need to understand what has happened and from despair. It is a place of new beginnings.

Then comes the phrase “in quietness”.  Say that word “quietness”.  Just the sound of it evokes peace.  It is a place of undisturbedness and tranquility; a place where you can just close your eyes and breathe  How a widow longs for such a place.

Last is the phrase “in confidence” and that means trusting.  There is that word that I have been struggling with for the last fourteen months.  My husband’s death shook my trust in God to the very core.  Our prayers were not answered the way that we wanted them to be answered and Bob was not healed here on earth.  God chose to heal him in heaven and heal him for eternity.  That broke my heart.  Now I have to choose to trust that God’s way is the best way and believe that His plan is a good plan for me. The alternative is to stay in a place of confusion.

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: ‘Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.  YOUR STRENGTH WILL COME FROM SETTLING DOWN IN COMPLETE DEPENDENCE ON ME  – The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.’” Isaiah 30:15  The Message

Father, help me to so want an attitude of quiet rest that I will trust You.  Help me to take that first step onto the Bridge of Faith where I no longer have that need to understand and am not plagued with confusion.  You have required of me a new route and have put me on this detour that  I didn’t want to take.  Give me the strength to continue taking one step at a time across that bridge toward the victorious life of widowhood – that place of new beginnings.

Imperishable HOPE

“And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord in remembering my affliction, and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.  My soul hath them still in remembrance and is humbled in me.  This I recall to my mind.  Therefore I have hope.  It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy (the LORD’S) faithfulness. Lamentations 3:18-23

(I wrote this devotional during the first 18 months of my grief walk.  Without HOPE, I would have given up.  Without HOPE, I would have nothing to look forward to.  Without HOPE, there is no hope.  Thank God for the HOPE that we have in Him.)

The moment my husband died, the hope that I had been carrying around for his healing was immediately snuffed out.  My hope in God to act on our behalf was completely gone.  There was such an emptiness inside of me.  All was lost.  It was over.  It was finished.  God had not answered our prayers.  I felt my hope in Him on very shaky ground.

This passage in Lamentations so aptly describes how I felt and how I continue to feel in times of despair even now.  My endurance and victory has strayed away and is lost and so is my hope in God.   My trouble and misery and grief is always on my mind.  That is why I am bowed down with depression.

But in my mind, I keep returning to something that gives me hope and that something is that the goodness, kindness, and faithfulness of God has not been completely destroyed or exhausted.  His tender mercy and love that comes from the deepest parts are never used up and will never end.  They are fresh at the end of my night and will bring bright joy after distress.  More than enough is God’s faithfulness.

To say that this time in my life is a time of great distress is an understatement.  Every day there are tears and deep, gut-wrenching crying that erupts from the very depths of my soul.  “Help me, God!  This is so hard!” are words that He hears me saying many times a day.

Yet, it is true that there is still this very tiny flicker of hope inside of me that all that I have believed about God all of these years is not in vain.  He is still here loving me with His great compassion.  Even in my depression, my soul somehow knows the truth and holds onto it with all that I have.  I saw my husband hold onto God all the way to the end and that memory is something that I take out and look at every day.  It is one of the things that keep me holding tightly to my relationship with God.

My hope in God has been tried and tested and found imperishable even in the midst of the worst loss of my life and in this journey of deep grief.

Without Anesthetic

(Written 1 1/2 years into my grief journey)

“The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart….” Psalm 34:18  “He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

On the morning of November 10th, 2009, the moment my husband’s heart stopped, God operated on my heart without anesthetic.  I have never known a pain so deep nor so lasting.  Going through natural childbirth four times does not even come close to comparison.  That pain lasts only a few hours.  This pain is ongoing and is still with me one and one half years later although at times it seems to a lesser degree and not as constant.

How long will it take for my heart to heal or will it ever heal?  Will I always feel this way?  Will there ever again be a time when I read God’s Word or hear it read and not say in my heart  “But this didn’t happen for us!”  Will I ever stop questioning God when I hear certain scriptures and say to Him “Is this really true?” or  “Does this only happen to certain Christians?”  I suppose that I am still angry with God to continue to be questioning Him.  Will my anger ever go away?  Will I ever really get the promises of God?

My life was not supposed to be this way.  After all, God created my husband for me and then brought him to me.  He gave us a deep love for each other and a lifelong commitment to each other.  He made me feel so very safe and gave me such a sense of security.  He was forever strong in his love and in his faithfulness to me.  How could God decide that my husband’s assignment here on earth was done and that it was finished at the young age of fifty-eight?

The word heart occurs 833 times in the King James version of the Bible.  There is no doubt in my mind that God understands every facet of my heart and its emotions.  His own words describe it as prideful, deceitful, hard yet tender, sorrowful, faithful, glad, presumptuous, wise, thoughtful, soft, singing with joy, trembling, understanding, firm as a piece of stone yet like wax that melts,  upright, truthful, rejoicing or full of enlarged troubles, fearful and trustful just to name a few.   He knows just how very fragile and breakable it is.

After all, God made my heart just the way it is and He knew on that fateful morning just what my heart’s reaction would be and how it continues to be.  David tells me in Psalms 34:18 that God is intimately near those whose hearts have been violently broken, shattered, and crushed and there are no better words to describe my heart on that day.

But His Word does not stop there.  It goes on to tell me in Psalm 147:3 that He bandages up my hurts, pain and sorrows and heals my literal heart distresses and all the emotions of my inner person that includes my mind, my reflections, and my memories.   That is a big job and any widow knows it.

And so I wait.  I can finally feel the bandages now on my heart.  Yes, the pain is still prevalent but not as constant.  So, some healing must be taking place as I continue to put one foot in front of the other every moment of every day and wait for God to finish the job.

Oh God, help me because I am still unsure of Your Word.  I am unsure of the interpretation of it and what exactly You are saying.  I don’t want to still be angry and distrustful of You.  I KNOW that You are my greatest and only true source of help.  I know that, Lord.  I believe You, Lord, but help my unbelief.  I need You so!   

Performance Based Love

(Written 15 months after my husband went to heaven.)

“Jehovah appeared of old unto me, (saying), Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”  Jeremiah 31:3

One of the thoughts that has hounded me the most in these fifteen months of grieving is  how much of a disappointment I must be to God because of how the death of my husband literally threw me on the ground and shattered my faith.

Surely I am a disappointment to Him because I am a Christian and should be able to stand up to the greatest loss in my life.  I should be able to keep my head up in the midst of this darkness and have a smile on my face.  I should be stronger than this.  My faith should be at the highest level it has ever been.  I should not have any questions of “why” or statements of “how could you do this to me after my serving You my entire life”.  Instead I should be bowing my head in quiet acceptance.  I should not be having any trouble finding out who I am now that I am no longer a wife.  I should just let go of all those years I had with my husband and move forward.

Yesterday as I was listening to the Moody Radio station in my car, I heard a statement that hit me right in the heart.  I do not even remember who said it, but the essence of it was that there is nothing I can or cannot do to make God love me any more than He already does.  All my life I have believed that if I do all the right things in following the Lord, that will make me more deserving of His love and more deserving of more of His blessings.  When God did not answer my prayers for healing for my husband, I feel totally and completely betrayed.  My first thought was that somehow there was something that I did not do right that made me undeserving of getting that answer to my prayer.

The idea that there is nothing I could ever do or not do to make God love me any more than He does literally blew all of my whole life way of thinking out of the water.  It stripped me bare of all of my “doing” and left me feeling like a load of “performance” had been lifted off my shoulders.

All my life I have been a performance based person with very high expectations of myself and others.  I always wanted to do everything I could to make my parents proud of me.  Now they did not demand that of me nor do I even ever remember them telling me that they expected that of me.  As the oldest child and the only girl this was just something that I expected of myself.  I felt like I was the one that should always take care of everyone.

This carried over into my marriage and family.  I strived to be the perfect wife for my husband and the perfect mother for our daughters.  Whenever I failed, it greatly troubled me.  After my husband received a terminal diagnosis and we made the decision to go the alternative medicine route in dealing with that, I did everything I was told to do to keep him alive and well and it worked for a little over five years.  I spent hours every day preparing fresh juices and raw food meals for him, putting his supplements in separate bottles to be taken at different times throughout the day, reminding him of all the things he had to do every day to help his body heal, and so much more.

Both of my parents were having health problems at the same time and I was scrambling to do my very best to take care of them as well.  To say that I was living on “high alert” would be an understatement.  My thoughts were that I HAD to do everything I could for all three of them so that God would answer my prayers for their healing.  When they all three died in less than four months’ time, I was completely crushed.  My performance had not been enough to merit enough love from God to keep all three of them here with me.

Yesterday I realized how erroneous my thinking was.  God’s healing is not based on my performance nor on how much He loves me.  There is nothing I can do to earn His love.  He already loves me as much as He will ever love me.  That truth is very freeing.  It is something that I am going to have to continue mulling over and over in my mind.  I guess that is what renewing the mind is all about.

Thank you, God, for opening my eyes and my heart to this truth.  I know it does not negate the truth that I am to do my best for You, but it lets me off the hook in thinking that the more I “do”, the more You will love me and the more prayers You will answer for me. 

Help me in this grief journey, Lord.  Heal my broken heart and my shattered faith.  In spite of everything, I love You, Lord. I don’t understand how I got so messed up in my thinking, but I thank You that as I can handle it and this fog begins to lift, You are helping me to throw open all those doors of my heart that have been locked and sealed and are beginning to clear out the cobwebs in my mind so that I can “see” what is really true.

Comfort of the Staff

“…..thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4b

A shepherd’s staff is a long stick made of wood that has a “C” shaped curve at the top. In those times of great hardship and trouble in our lives, how does God our Shepherd comfort us with His staff?

As I began to wonder about this and look for the answer to this question, I found that there are three areas of sheep management in which the staff plays a very significant role.  The first role is to draw the sheep together into an intimate relationship.  If a newborn lamb becomes separated from its mother, the shepherd uses his staff to gently lift it and bring it back to the mother.  He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her lamb it if bears the odor of his hands on it.

The staff is also used to draw the sheep close to the shepherd for intimate examination.  It is very  useful in this way for the shy and timid sheep who tend to stay at a distance from the shepherd.

The shepherd uses his staff it to guide the sheep gently onto a new path, through a gate or along dangerous and difficult routes.  The tip of that long slender stick is laid gently against the side of the sheep.  The pressure applied guides the sheep in the way that the shepherd wants it to go.  This reassures the sheep of its proper path.

When things happen in my life that causes me to feel that God has betrayed me in some way and does not really love me, He comforts me with His staff.  My tendency is to close down my heart and pull away from Him, but He loves me too much to allow me to do that.  He does not want to be separated from me.  So, He takes His staff and gently lifts me up bringing me back to Himself.

Once I am drawn close to my Shepherd, He uses His staff to examine my heart very closely and helps me to really see myself just as I am.  This allows me to take a deep, long look into my heart and open up those doors that have been sealed shut for so very long.  This process then brings to light the things that have been hindering me from having that truly intimate relationship with Him so that I can deal with them.  It opens up my Pandora’s box and cleans it out.

Change happens in life……..changes that are unforeseen and unwanted changes that blindside me.  When those kinds of changes come, I find myself at a complete loss as to what way to go.  This is when my Shepherd again takes His staff and gently guides me onto the new path that He has already prepared for me.  Then as I begin to go down this new path, He takes His staff and lays it with gentle pressure against my side reassuring me that He is right there with me and I am going the right way.

“My dear Shepherd, thank you that even when I am resisting the path that You have planned for my life, You are not turning your back on me leaving me to figure things out on my own.  Thank you that you love me with an everlasting love and that I have the comfort of your staff always.”

Distancing or Focusing

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….”  Hebrew 12:2

(Written sixteen months after my husband went to heaven)

During the last few months of my husband’s fight for life,  I felt like he was slowly distancing himself from me.  There would be long lapses of conversation and little really personal interaction between us except for helping him with all the things that he needed help with.  He never opened up and talked with me about what he was feeling or what his fears were.  I knew that his heart was very tender because he would cry when he prayed or when he would just suddenly burst into song.  His tears were something I had only ever seen twice in our over thirty-six years of marriage.

For the first time as his wife,  I felt somewhat disconnected from him and shut out of his life to an extent.  I realize several things about that now.  First of all, he was trying to protect me.  He knew how very afraid I was and that I did not want to even entertain the idea that he might not live.  He knew how hard I was fighting to keep my emotions together and how strong I was trying to be.

More importantly, I know now that Bob was more and more each day fixing and focusing his eyes on Jesus.  He must have felt that his life in this world was beginning to fade as each day passed.  His personal relationship with God had always been tremendously important to him and as his days were in that final stage, it became ALL important.  He must have known at that point that it was just him and God.  That relationship was his only hope and in his death, it became his reward.

Sixteen months into this grief journey and I am still looking back at what we had together.  There comes a time when I have to say, “I’ll see you later, my darling” and bring my eyes forward as this journey brings about the changes in my life that God has intended for me.  Oh, how very hard it is for me to do that!  My life was so tightly bonded to his that it is torturous for me to try to separate myself from him.

Oh God, please help me to somehow take that first step and tell Bob good-bye for now.  You know that I really don’t want to do that, but I know that at some point in time, I MUST do that in order to be able to move forward without constantly looking back over my shoulder at the life that Bob and I had together. 

It is so completely overwhelming for me to try to imagine living the rest of my life without him.  He was my safety and security.  I knew that he was going to always take care of me and I would never be alone.  But, all of that has changed now that he is with You. 

I don’t know how You are going to do it, Lord, but somehow redirect my focus now to You.  Help me to look at You despite all of the distractions going on around me for it is only in looking at You that I can be completely obedient to Your plan for the rest of my life. 

Settle

“Come unto me….I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”  Matthew 11:28-29

If you have ever taken your dog to obedience classes, you will know that the first thing you’ll be taught is to train your dog how to “settle”.   Settling takes time– quiet time at least 15 minutes a day.  The dog’s master gets down on the floor where the dog lives.  He/she silently reaches out and begins to pet the dog under its chin, between the shoulder blades, behind the ears in long, soothing strokes until you are both completely relaxed.  Then, the master encourages the dog to lie down and then to roll over on its back.

In her book Saturdays with Stella: How My Dog Taught Me to Sit, Stay and Come When God Calls Allison Pittman tells about her experience training her dog Stella:

“Getting a dog to settle in its master’s presence is the ultimate demonstration of faith.  To settle goes beyond simple sitting or lying down.  A settled dog is on its back, belly exposed, mouth slack, ears flopped.  A settled dog is not asleep, but fully awake, aware of its vulnerability, completely at ease with its master.  A dog that will not settle does not trust.  A dog that does not trust will not obey.  ‘Settled’ is not a natural state for Stella.

The first time I try to settle Stella at home, she reacts with all the warmth and affection of an eight-year-old boy forced to endure the annual Christmas kiss from his aunt Edna who always smells of Jergens lotion and tarragon.  Stella’s brown eyes dart all around the room, looking for an escape, and though she is sitting down, her hind legs are definitely coiled, ready to jump up and take off the minute I move my hand.  Her mind seems to be racing with questions: What does she want?  Where can I go? When will it end? Meanwhile, my heart is breaking because all I can see  is that she doesn’t love me enough—doesn’t trust me enough—to simply enjoy a few minutes relaxed in my presence.”

This so perfectly describes me now as a widow.  I have become the little pill bug that we had around our house when I was growing up.  A pill bug commonly known as a roly-poly bug uses its hard exoskeleton to protect itself.  Whenever you touch it or it becomes frightened, it immediately curls up into a ball.  How many times have I just wanted to curl up in a corner with a blanket over my head to escape dealing with life!  And it does not take much to make me want to take that position.

Rolling over onto my back with my belly exposed and just settling myself quietly before God?  Submitting to His will?  Believing that the death of my husband meant that his assignment from God on this earth was over at age 57 years old?  Trusting that widowhood is going to work out for my good?  Can I “settle” in God’s presence?  I have mixed emotions about “settling”.  I want to yet I do not want to.  Yet, God tells me in Psalms 46:11 that I am to do just that—-“Be still and know that I am God”.

Those words “be still” mean to be quiet, to relax, and to let go.  But God does not stop there.  He tells me not only to be still but to “know” that He is God.  “Know” means to admit that He is God.  God is saying –

“Candy, settle yourself.  Roll over on your back and expose your vulnerability to me and KNOW that I am God.  Allow me to show you all that you need to know now.  Believe that I love you with my everlasting love and that love is far greater than the love Bob had for you.  I am more than able to take care of you.  My promises are true even though you are questioning Me now.  I was with you both on that morning that Bob came home and you were left on earth and I am still with you now.  Trust me and allow me to prove Myself to you in your grief and pain.”

Grief is a Battle

(This was written almost 1 1/2 years into my grief journey.  Several months later I was able to take off my wedding rings and along with the Mother’s ring my daughter’s had given me,  I had the gold from them all melted down and a new single ring fashioned using all of the diamonds and colored stones.  I call if my Love Story ring.)

“…keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.”  Romans 12:2b Complete Jewish Bible

Grief is a battle of the will and the emotions and it is one of the hardest battles in which I have ever participated.  There are so many emotions that have to be processed through one by one and that processing can take place over and over again.  I will skirmish awhile and think that I have put a stop to one emotion when it rears its head again and the battle rages on.

The one emotion that keeps popping up over and over  is ACCEPTANCE.  It has been almost a year and a half now and I am still wearing my wedding rings.  I was asked if I feel like my rings are my last tangible connection with my husband and my answer was a resounding “YES”.  Taking them off will be like another death blow to me.  It will mean that he is no longer mine and I am no longer his.  Right now I cannot even bear that thought.  According to our wedding vows, only death can part us and end our marriage, but in my mind, nothing can ever part us.  The thought of not being Mrs. Bob Feathers is unfathomable to me.

Dreams are one of the ways that I process and early this morning I had a dream.  I dreamed that God left my husband here with me for a time after he died so that I could get used to the idea that he was soon to be gone .  But, God left him here with no emotions.  After a time, Bob told me that he was not going to be here much longer.  I grabbed him and clung to him as I wept and cried begging him not to go.  He just stared straight ahead and had no words of comfort and no return embrace or hugs.

So, the battle of ACCEPTANCE rages on as a battle of not only my emotions but of my will.  The bottom line is that I do not want to accept God’s will for my life because it is not my will.  In my way of thinking which we all know is NOT God’s way of thinking, THIS is not the best for me.

In her article called “Holding Onto the Past” Corienne Edwards says, “Holding on to the past is trying to breathe life into a play which is closed.  It is struggling to raise the curtain in a dark theatre, on a dusty stage, by ourselves.  The other players have left.  The stage is empty. It is going over everyone’s lines, long since said, playing all the parts – alone.  It is being stuck.

Now I have to take a good look at myself and ask, “Am I stuck?”  I do not want to be stuck in my grief, but perhaps I am.  I do not believe that for me acceptance can come all at once and all of a sudden.  For me acceptance is a process.  God is not letting me forget that I HAVE to accept that my husband is gone and my marriage to him is finished.  He continues to speak to my heart about it slowly letting me know as I can handle it that there has to come a time when my acceptance is complete.

Oh, God, forgive me for saying that Your will is not the best for me, but that is truly how I am feeling.  I don’t know how You can do it, but please change my heart, mind, and my will and help me to trust that my husband’s death WAS part of this plan that You have for my life and for his. 

Life didn’t go the way that I always dreamed that it would.  I thought our lives would just go on forever here on this earth and we would very simply and happily grow old together.  I thought we would always be together to love and comfort each other through any sorrow or loss.  I never dreamed that I would be the one that would be left alone to deal with life.

God, guide my thoughts, my heart, and my emotions as I process through my grief and as we take this grief journey together.  Give me the strength that I don’t have to deal with each and every memory, each and every grief trigger, and each and every emotion.  And help me to finally one day let go of my will and embrace ACCEPTANCE.