Please join us today for our second post in “Our Favorites” series. We hope today’s post is a blessing!
Please enjoy Erika’s picks for her favorites. She chose a two part series that resonated with her greatly and she hopes it does you as well.
The Physical Loss by Lori Streller
The air is brisk. The leaves have begun their release and are cascading down from the highest branches, pooling in puddles of vibrant color on the ground. I am sitting at a high school football game in the chilly Oklahoma wind the first time I notice it. I am holding my own hand.
Possibly it is a nervous reaction to the close ball game and a certain young quarterback I have grown to love as my own. It is definitely a self-soothing, subconscious effort. I am literally sitting with my hands clasped together in my lap rubbing one thumb along the top of another. Maybe it is out of habit? Were my husband still here, we absolutely would have been holding hands and snuggling close as we cheered on the team. I chuckle to myself, shake my head, and deliberately place each hand on its respective knee.
A few months later, another evening, this time I am sitting in a movie theater…suddenly aware that I am once again holding my own hand. This time it saddens me as the acute loneliness nestles deep within my soul.
We lost many aspects of our relationships when our husbands left. Rarely is the subject of physical touch addressed publicly amongst widows.
Why is this? It seems silly for us to dance around it as though it doesn’t exist; this loss of physical touch in our lives. God created us with favorable responses to positive touch. It is how we are made and it is an enormous portion of our loss.
We didn’t just lose the intimate touch of our lover, we lost the casual touch too; the arm around our shoulder as we walk side by side; the hand held during prayer; the welcome home hug at the end of each day.
They are all missing. And they are all missed.
Missed to the point, that two years out from the freshness of loss, I am catching myself holding my own hands at times when they would have naturally been encompassed by the strong grasp of my husband.
Just yesterday I texted one of my best friends the following message:
“Cold weather makes me miss the physical side of marriage a bit more than normal.
There. I said it.
So I guess it is inappropriate to just ask a random man if he could walk with me outside for an hour or so and hold my hand. Maybe even have an adult conversation. Then go our separate ways. That’s a “no”, right?”
Ever the funny and helpful friend, she replied:
“Random men may think you are crazy…”
All joking aside, she is right. Outsiders may think the admittance of missing even the most innocent of physical contact appears pathetic. People will judge. I don’t care. It is something that the widowed community faces and it needs to be openly discussed.
God is a husband to the widow and never leaves us alone. That is a truth I am thankful for; but sometimes knowing the “right answer” doesn’t curb my longing to simply have my hand held or to be embraced in a strong hug. I am called to this ministry of sharing how God is carrying me through my loss, but I am also simply a widow who misses the physical presence of her husband. I don’t have all the answers.
As I sort my way through this topic, I find myself thinking it would benefit me to be more deliberate in ensuring I receive physical touch.
And on the heels of that thought comes the one asking “What ways accomplish this while still maintaining the level of purity God calls me to?”
Tell me, how do you fill the void of casual physical touch in your life?
Lord, You created us to be relational people. We miss the casual, physical touch of our husbands. Help show us ways we can cope with this loss. Amen.
Marital Bed by Erika Graham
“And the two shall become one flesh…”
I’m gonna say it.
The thing widows all think, but as Christians we don’t say.
I. Miss. My. Marital. Bed.
I miss the warmth and unity experienced there. I miss the ease and selflessness that happened so perfectly there. THE ONENESS. The warm welcoming body that lay beside me. The unison we experienced. The desire we had for one another. The deep intimacy and trust I felt in giving my entire body over to another. The care and love found there.
As Christians, in a world that has perverted and twisted sex, it’s hard to say these things. We are shamed into thinking that talking about sex is sinful. Sex is certainly not something the widowed or Christian community talks about openly or comfortably.
But God didn’t make sex “dirty”, man did. God created in us a desire towards one another. He defined that desire, in Genesis, to be a good thing within the confines of His creation of marriage. He tells us that in marriage we can experience the full glory of Him through our sexual intimacy. We can sacrificially give ourselves to another the way Christ gave Himself up for us. (Romans 5:22-32)
Yes, God ordains sex…when it’s under His authority and we obey Him.
We know because we experienced that God ordained oneness in our marriages.
But what happens when our husbands are gone?
My marital bed is now cold and harsh. I roll over to an empty space. I have no husband to hold me, to make me feel beautiful, to desire me, or to even warm my feet and hands up when they’re freezing!
Sometimes I go back. I have such deep meaningful memories of that bed and our years and nights spent there. Babies were created there. Pleasure and love was found there. Deep trust and utter selflessness were solidified there. Many prayers, and both happy and sad tears flowed there. I miss it greatly.
Recently a reader asked our team if it was okay for her to pleasure herself to those memories.
Yes, I am going there!
Because, it’s something we all experience. We all have desires in some facet or another.
As Christian widows we believe God is now our spiritual husband, but we are still human.. and we are all still alive!
As I’ve prayed over this myself and sought answers, I can tell you Scripture doesn’t give a definitive yes or no answer to this deep question.
Yet, I did find these important truths:
~ Scripture is clear that I’m no longer married and when I get to heaven I won’t be married again to my husband. Matthew 22:30, Romans 7:2, 1 Corinthians 7:39 (read more here: Heaven and Marriage)
~ Scripture is clear that if I lust after another man outside of marriage in my mind and heart, whether I act on it or not, it is sin. Matthew 5:28
And the two keys that apply to us now…
~ Scripture is clear that I am not to conform to this world. But, I am to transform my mind by renewing it with God’s Word and His will for me now. Romans 12:2
~ Scripture is clear I’m to seek to honor and obey God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in every area of my life. Romans 2:6-8
So, what does this mean for us in this area?
It means since there’s no clear cut answer, we must take it before The Lord, Sister. Allowing Him to reveal His will to us. Allowing Him to work and move us. Allowing Him to convict our hearts and minds here.
Allowing Him to then rule our heart, mind, and yes even our sexual desires.
Personally, I have been convicted to ask God to remove those desires from me, until (or if) He calls me to remarry. It’s been a process and I still have to lay it before Him. But He is helping me hold steadfast to my conviction.
Yet, maybe that’s not exactly where He will lead you. This is deeply intimate and personal, and something only God can clearly reveal, through His Spirit and His Word, what He wants you to do.
I have some questions for your personal reflection that will help you discern this:
~ What is my motive here, in other words, why do I think I need to do this?
~ Afterwards, how will it actually make me feel?
~ Is what I am doing honoring God and conveying that I trust Him to fill me up and meet ALL my needs?
God wants no idol before Him. That means even the sexual memories (or any other memory) of our late husbands!
Sisters, widowhood is tough stuff with lots of layers. Walking this journey is not for the faint of heart. It’s messy. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard.
But God is so much bigger and He’s got even this deeply personal and tough topic. Take it before the Cross and watch Him grow you, help you, and convict you.
Father God, I am a woman with desires. Please help those desires to honor You still in every way. Lord, block me from creating any idols in my mind and heart that would distract me from You. Show me where I have sinned. And protect me from those areas. I lay even my physical desires and memories before You now. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.
Other posts in this series: Teri’s Favorite