Dangerous Waters for a Widow

ss-imageNot all widows experience online dating scams. Some are successful in finding a good husband. But, what about those widows who are introduced to someone through a mutual friend? Some matches will work. Others will not. Such is the story of a widow who wishes to remain anonymous and tells her story in her own words.

Candy has been encouraging me for some time to share my story. I have started to do that several times, but the timing just wasn’t right. I’d like to share this now.

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to someone through a mutual friend. We immediately hit it off. It wasn’t long until we were seeing each other all of the time. We seemed to have so much in common and we rarely ever had differences or cross words. I was showered with compliments continually and was really just swept off my feet. It had been about 2 years since my husband of almost 30 years had died. I missed him terribly and did not realize just how lonely I was feeling.

I have lived in my present town a little over 20 years and have really settled in quite well. My son and his family live about an hour east of me and the rest of my family (sisters, mothers, cousins) live about two hours south of me. I have great support at my church and was very involved there even before my husband died. I have numerous close friends who really care about me.

Back to my story…..about 4 months after I started dating, my new man friend was talking marriage. Every warning sign under the sun was right there, but i just didn’t want to see it. Note to self: IF your family all thinks someone you are dating is “not good for you”, if your friends express concern that you are “acting differently”, well, as Jeff Foxworthy says, “Here’s your sign!” The warning signs for me were: he had been married multiple times (not judging; just stating the facts), he was not responsible with his money, and he was a little too needy with attention from me.

Looking back now, it seems like someone else was living in my brain. I have always been the responsible one! I was looking for happiness in a person and all along I knew God loved me and had better plans for me. Honestly, I was just plain rebellious.

I had worked all of my adult life. I have been mostly frugal and conscientious with the money I have earned. God has blessed me with a tremendous gift of organization and administration. I had enough sense about me to not tie the knot. I actually even talked to an attorney about a prenup. But, I knew in my heart that he wasn’t the one.

In my case he wasn’t a scam artist or anything like that, but he was, in my opinion, probably an opportunist and very lonely himself. Yep. Lonely people don’t make a good spouse. I still think he has feelings for me. I really do, but we are strictly friends. By friends, I mean that our dating relationship ended peacefully. We don’t date or share innocuous intimacies.

If I had just gone with my emotions, I would have ended up in a terrible mess. We do have a lot in common, but we have way too many differences to ever get married. We are most definitely “unequally yoked” in every sense of the word.

My caution to other widows is to not EVER act on your emotions. If something doesn’t seem right, listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Do not ignore Him. God knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He truly wants the best for us. We just need to let Him be our all. In His good time (and He’s always right on time), He will give us who/what we need and not who/what we THINK we need.

The photo of the sign pictured above was taken by me. When I saw it, God was dealing with the rebellion in me. How’s that for the “sign”?

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Grief Light

“Grief is our finest, most enduring labor of love as we remember, honor, and rebuild our life for the future. Through the work of grief we learned the unforced rhythms of grace–the grace of God, the grace of rest for our soul.”  Julie Yarbrough

Over the course of time since becoming a widow, I have read over fifty books written by Christian widows and a few widowers. Grief Light by Julie Yarbrough is one of the top three best books that I can recommend to other widows. This author has experienced firsthand the loss of a husband, a father, and a mother in less than a decade. She knows the pain of anticipatory grief and the all-consuming responsibility as well as exhaustion that a caregiver experiences.

Grief Light allows the reader to emotionally walk through that time with her as she processes every facet of grief. Julie is very candid and frank about her responses to all of the emotions that she feels. She does not tiptoe around the issues and allows herself to share the effects of grief and even the thoughts she has about things that people say to her. Holding herself up to the standard of “Super Christian/Super Widow” is something that Julie does not do. Nor does she wear a mask. I found her raw honesty to be very refreshing.

There are many different kinds of grief that Julie talks about that such as scrappy grief, collective grief, empty grief and delayed grief. Most of these were types of grief that I had not heard of or read about. Because Julie had wonderful relationships with her husband and her father, but did not have a good relationship with her mother, she experienced different kinds of grief and is thus qualified to talk about them.

I was especially moved by the comparison of grief to a slow-moving train that the author gave and feel it is important to share a bit of that here with you because it is so easy to picture it in your mind.

“…I thought about how grief moves through our lives, much like a slow-moving train. It’s not at all difficult to name the freight cars of our grief–fear, worry, despair, anxiety, loneliness. But if we look at what’s under the train, guiding its path, directing the way, we see tracks–simple yet ingenious in their design and purpose.

The tracks are a little like our life. We name the two heavy rails of our spiritual support–trust and faith. Upon the rails of our life are evenly spaced ties of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22 NRSV). The ties distribute the weight of our grief so that we’re able to bear the load of our life without the one we love.

The train’s track system is embedded in ballast–small pieces of broken rock packed together and leveled to keep the rails and ties in place. Ballast gives the track a stable base. The ballast and bedrock of our grief are the steadfast love and faithfulness of God….(Psalm 36:5 NIV).

The rails of a train track are set at a fixed distance apart. The gauge corresponds precisely to the wheel specifications of the train. The train can’t run without the tracks, the tracks have no use except for the train. The tracks lead somewhere–there’s a destination….

We’re not intended to sit idly at the railroad crossing of our life worrying about when life will move on or where life will take us. We wait for awhile–with frustration and anger, or with forbearance and hope–as the train of loss and sorrow moves slowly through our soul. We know with certainty that every train ends, with or without the finality and promise of a red caboose. When at last the tracks of our life clear, we’re on the move again. Our end station is life beyond our grief. When our direction is certain, we move ahead….”

Julie also shares that one of the most difficult challenges of grief is waiting–“waiting on God, waiting on life to unfold, waiting to feel better, waiting to be better…….When we grieve, somewhere deep within we long to soar again. It’s what pushes us to struggle with what’s happened and find within our soul God’s power lifting us up to new heights of life and love and faith.

Grief Light is one of those books that is important to read whether you are a new widow or a widow who is years into her journey. No more than three pages are written on each topic that Julie discusses making it one of those books that is easy to read and to absorb. As I read this book, I found a better understanding of my grief and had one of those “God lightbulb” moments that answered one of the questions that I’ve been asking God for the last six years.

Julie was kind enough to send me an extra copy of this book to give away. The first person that lets me know via a comment below in this blog post that she would like to read this book, I will be very happy to get a copy of it to you in the mail.

THE GIFT OF EMOTIONS

“All of our emotions are gifts from God to help us process everything we experience. Emotions are also a big part of what makes you amazing. They allow you to respond to life in deeply personal ways.”-Holly Gerth

Gideon was a man who was not afraid to question God. In Judges 6:12-13 God came to him and greeted him as a mighty warrior. God also told Gideon that He was with him. Gideon’s response sounds so much like what mine has been many times, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” In fact, Gideon went even further than that and told God that He had abandoned him.

As you read on in Judges chapter 6 you can see that after God revealed His plan for Gideon, Gideon told God that he was weak and a nobody. This plan was a hard one that filled him with much fear, uncertainty and even disbelief. In other words, Gideon said, “You are asking too much of me, God. There’s no way I can do this! I want to keep my life the way it was.” How many times have you found yourself thinking or even saying, “I want my life back!”

As God’s plan unfolded and time went on, there was a point where Gideon became so exhausted that he did not think he could go on. When he asked for help from others, they turned their backs on him and refused to give him and his small band of 300 men what they needed most to strengthen them in their journey.

During that season of life when Gideon was taking one step at a time, not only did God understand all of the emotions that he was experiencing, but He did not hold those feelings of worthlessness, weakness, worry, anxiety and even panic against Gideon. God guided Gideon through that whole process when it looked like it was impossible to walk through it much less come through it unscathed.

I could not help but draw a parallel of all the emotions that Gideon experienced to all the emotions that I as a widow have experienced and continue to experience. And it encourages me that God is not holding them against me or throwing up His hands in utter disgust. He continues to walk alongside me moment by moment bringing stories like Gideon’s to mind in order to show me that He understands my human frailties. God uses Gideon’s life to show me that I do not have to be afraid to question Him and ask for His reassurances more than once after He has answered. The dialogue that took place between Gideon reassures me and gives me “a shot in the arm” to keep pushing steadily forward in my own hard season of life.

How about you? Have you felt guilty about your emotions and all the things that you are feeling? Do you feel like your emotions are displeasing to God? Is there someone past or present whose life has encouraged you to keep going?