Fighting Forward

One thing that I find very affirming and healing is to read books written by Christian widows and some widowers. To this date I have read over fifty and have found that there are several books that are my top three. One such book is a new one called Fighting Forward written by a remarried widow Jan Owen from Alabama. For those widows who find themselves struggling greatly with their shattered faith, people who have lost a loved one or someone who wants to understand the grief that their friend is going through, this book is a must read.

Jan’s story sharing what life has felt like to her after the loss of her husband is one that is very raw. She chooses not to sugar-coat her words in order to just be real. There are those Christian widows who may not feel that they can ever take off their mask during grief thus giving others the impression that they are doing alright. Jan rips off her mask and allows herself to become openly vulnerable. As a result, she lost some friends.

Her intent in writing this book is to let others know that it is okay to share your grief in totality from the deepest parts of your heart. In fact, it’s very healing. After all, God created us and knows exactly how we are going to react when we lose our spouse. You cannot hide all that your are feeling from Him. As my Christian psychologist Dr. Dan Trathen always told me, “This is not God’s first rodeo.” God is not surprised or taken aback at our rage or anger towards Him. Our questions don’t cause Him to be disappointed in Him. Instead, He uses those questions to draw us into a much different and much closer relationship to Him if we allow it.

Choosing to live when I’d rather not is the bravest thing I’ve ever done”, says Jan. When my husband first died, I wanted to curl up in a corner with a blanket over my head and never move again. Closing down is always an option for a new widow or even one further down the road, but it is never a healthy one. It’s far harder to stand up, take that blanket off our head, put on your boxing gloves and begin to purposely take one step forward at a time. There are times when we’ll find ourselves taking a few steps backwards and that is normal. Those backward steps come when a grief trigger hits or when we just become so very tired in our journey that a rest stop is needed. The key is to never stay in that backward spot. It takes more guts to fight forward and God gives us the strength to do that.

God can and will use that deep, deep soul pain that you go through after the loss of your spouse. Whether it is to walk alongside another widow and encourage them in their journey, gathering names of new widows throughout the year and then sending each of them a special box for Christmas, sending out widow resources to new widows that you hear about or going to grad school to become a grief counseling specialist such as Jan is doing, your grief will not be without a purpose.

Have you chosen to fight forward? Or are you still lying on the mat struggling? No matter what your answer is, this book is one that will help you and allow you to know that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to fight forward! You can find more information about Jan and her book on her Facebook page called Fighting Forward.

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Don’t Waste Your Pain

When something happens in our life that we don’t understand, the first thing we do is wonder why this happened. The morning my husband went to heaven, my response was “Why, God?!!!! How could You do this to me?!” Less than two months later when my mother joined my husband, my response was “Not another one, God!!!” Two months later when my dad left this world for heaven, my response was “This is too much for me to handle, God!! How could you take from me the three people who loved me the most in this world?!!”

As the numbness of that terrible fog began to lift a bit, I realized that I could not waste my pain. I did not know how to begin to face it and deal with it alone. That is when I sought out professional help from a Christian psychologist who had worked with widows for over 30 years. I needed someone to shine a light in my fog and direct me. Your family and friends can help you some as you are walking through your pain, but for the most part it is something that you have to walk through alone.

There is nothing wrong with questioning God for a while because after all, we are human. But, there should come a time for you if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior that you remember that whether or not you can sense God’s presence, He has promised in Hebrews 13:5b I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” Amplified Bible.

I personally do not believe that there are any accidents with God. He is always in control of what is going on in my life and whatever has happened is in His permissive will. He has a purpose for my pain and it’s up to me to face it, walk through it, and allow that purpose to work out for good in my life.

Waking up in the morning is the hardest part of the day for me. As soon as my eyes open and consciousness returns my first thought is of the losses of my sweet loved ones and how very much I miss them. In order to combat that pain I immediately turn on my iPad and go to the Daily Audio Bible app. This is my ammunition that helps me get out of bed and face my day. I purposely close my eyes as I listen so that I can give my full attention to whatever is being read in portions of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I so desire to hear whatever God might have to say to me for that day…….whatever encouraging words He might speak to my heart. Rarely ever does a morning go by that I don’t cry as I listen because this is my special time with the One who loves me so much more than my husband or parents ever did. I am using my pain to grow a much closer and more intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior who has my back in this life as a widow.

After being encouraged by several people to share my grief journey, I began this blog as a way to not waste my pain. It has been and continues to be a way for me to pour out my pain and share with the readers whatever God has placed on my heart. In turn, the readers will share with me their pain as well as encouragement in the comments below my posts. Together we are not wasting our pain.

Reaching out to other widows to tell them about the many widow resources that I have found and sometimes even sending some resources to a widow is another way that I find helpful in not wasting my pain. Also, talking by phone or texting with a widow to just listen, affirm and encourage them keeps me from wasting my pain.

Remembering that God loves me and that His mercies to me are new every morning helps me not to waste my pain. Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV is a daily source of encouragement to me.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    His mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is Thy faithfulness.

Losing a spouse or a parent is one of the most painful things in this world. Allow yourself whatever amount of time that you need to question God and ask all of your “why” questions. He’s big enough to handle it and will not love you any less. I would encourage you not to run from your grief and waste your pain. Running will only cause you more pain in the long run as unimaginable as that is. Use your pain to strengthen and grow your relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have never allowed Christ into your life, give it some serious thought because He understands your pain more than anyone else in this world ever could. He’s that friend that will never turn His back on you. He’s promised believers that He will never leave them nor forsake them. There is no way I could go through life without Him.

What things are you doing in order not to waste your pain? Don’t waste your pain.