I Choose… do you? By Leah Gillen-Stirewalt
I heard a comic once say that it’s not people who kill the squirrel as it scurries across the street in front of a car, only to suddenly make a faulty decision to reverse and go the other way. Suddenly, it chooses to reverse again, turning right back in the direction it was running to begin with to face the ultimate…SMACK!
No – it’s not the person or the car that killed the squirrel. It was indecision. If the squirrel would have just kept running forward, it might have evaded the coming car and its ultimate death. Or maybe if the squirrel had stopped in its tracks, the car could have straddled it or veered around it. Instead…it scampered back and forth trying to decide what to do until it was too late.
I am the squirrel. No, I’m not growing a fuzzy tail and eating acorns. But, I find myself very indecisive these days – or unable to make decisions at all sometimes. In studying up on this journey of grief, I realize that’s perfectly normal for us widows. I realize this particular dilemma will also fade some in time, and my ability to make decisions (or make them more quickly) will return. Until then, I need help…from friends, my pastor, family, those that have traveled Grief Road before me, counselors, books, and most importantly God and His Word.
There are many choices that are unwise for us to make right now. But, there is one choice that I have decisively chosen to make, in spite of my pain…I choose to get well!
Much like the invalid of 38 years in the book of John, when Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
And how did the invalid respond? With an excuse, “Sir…I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
But, Jesus didn’t simply stop there. He didn’t say, “I’m so sorry. That’s such a shame. Maybe I can ‘stop traffic’ long enough for you to get down into the water.” Rather, Jesus the Healer said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” And what happened next? Scripture tells us, “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
The man made a decision. He chose to do what Jesus asked him to do – without hesitation – and, he found his healing.
What does that look like for a widow in desperate need of healing from a broken heart, among other things?
In the early days…it might look like this…
When we feel like we can’t get out of bed…we CHOOSE to move locations, maybe just to the couch.
When we don’t feel like praying…we CHOOSE to utter one simple prayer, “Lord, please help me!”
When we don’t want to read the Word…we CHOOSE to open up the book of Psalms and simply read the first one.
When we don’t feel like socializing…we CHOOSE to return to church to allow God to love on us through other people. And, if we’re not loved on in that church, we CHOOSE another.
When we don’t think we can eat even a morsel…we CHOOSE to make and eat a piece of dry toast.
A few months or weeks down the road…it might look like this…
When we feel that we need more help processing our grief…we CHOOSE to seek the advice of a grief counselor or attend a program like Grief Share.
When the shock is wearing off, and the pain intensifies and we find we can’t cope at all…we CHOOSE to see a doctor about how we’re feeling.
When we can’t seem to muster up enough energy to do the basics around the house…we CHOOSE to share our struggle with a close friend or family member who can help us.
When we began to express anger towards our beloved husband…we CHOOSE to write him a letter expressing the pain, anger, and full emotion completely. That brings healing, in and of itself (I know firsthand).
When we don’t know the next step to take with all of the legal and financial decisions that must be made…we CHOOSE to make our needs known and let someone help us.
In the later months or years…it might look like this…
When our healing seems to be in full swing…we CHOOSE to open our hearts to another grieving widow that needs to know she’s not alone.
When we feel the lonely set in again…we CHOOSE to spend time with friends and not live as a hermit.
If/when we ever feel the desire to date once again…we CHOOSE to take the matter to the Lord for His decision to be made for us.
Making the decision to be well is the first step. It may takes us months or years to get there, but admitting that we want to be well, and then opening our hearts to allow God to work on us from the inside out is one of the most decisive choices we can make for ourselves as widows. Not only will we benefit from that choice, but our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, closest friends, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone else we interact with will also reap huge blessings from that initial decision for healing.
And most importantly…when we realize all that God has done for us through this most difficult journey…we CHOOSE to give Him glory!
And so…my sweet widow friends, what choice is God asking you to make today?
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