“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”
James 1:2 (ESV)
So many times our postings here on A Widow’s Might are focused on encouragement.
We share with you how to move forward, how to put your trust in the Lord, and how to take the lemons that widowhood has left for you and make lemonade—and maybe even something better than lemonade. Maybe even a pineapple lemon-drop smoothie!
But I can remember moments, especially in that first year after losing Tom, when that advice was the last thing I wanted to hear.
My moments like this came, at first, in waves—like a roller coaster.
One moment I’d feel this surreal peace, like God had me totally in His grip, and the next moment the entire loss would come crashing in on me like a tidal wave. The night Tom died, I felt a surreal lifting from the Lord—like, even though I lost the best friend and love of my life, Someone was supernaturally holding me, cradling me, carrying me. But just minutes later, I found myself looking at his chair in the living room in disbelief, remembering how earlier that day he sat there, grinning at me. “He was just here,” I thought. I found myself grabbing at the empty space where he sat with my fist, over and over, until I exploded in tears.
Then the waves came further apart.
On that first Christmas without him, I found myself too busy with my four boys to get to that miserably lonely point. Friends and family surrounded me, and I still felt that glow of being loved by my husband—still felt married. But just two days later, as I finally cleaned out his office, turning paper after paper over, sorting, what memory to toss, what memory to savor. I found little notes I had written to him, early in the summer, weighing the merits of which vacation we’d take in the fall. Little did I know as I had scribbled those thoughts, he’d be gone before we could ever take that vacation. I sobbed my eyes out, wondering will it ever be possible to stop? Wine didn’t dull the pain, sleep fled from me, and I became determined to finish the painful sorting job even as the sun started to climb over the horizon.
The worst wave was at the first year mark.
A year to the very date of his death, friends and family gathered to help the boys celebrate the memory of their father Tom-style, with a joyful celebration. The boys enjoyed it—it was beautifully perfect. But that same moment, as dozens smiled and prayed and encouraged with words, cards, letters, and mementos, I was dying inside. I wanted everyone to just go away. I wanted to be alone. I hated the attention—I hated that all I had was a memory to celebrate, not the husband that cradled me in his arms night after night. I left those dozens of cards people gave me unopened. Tucked them away in a box. That was three years ago and I’ve yet to open even one of them. I just wanted to forget that horrible night where we had to celebrate the memory of someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Starting out with dating brought new waves.
What blessings the Lord has given me in introducing me to kind fellows, ones with integrity and genuine intentions for me. But at times grief got in the way, and dating anxiety led to nightmares. I remember after one of my earlier dates dreaming about an stranger taking me to a scary unknown, and slightly waking to the feeling of my husband’s arms tightly wrapped around me in my bed, only to find that even that was a dream, and that I’m still, indeed, alone. Then sobbing—why do I have to start over when the arms that held me were more than enough for me—they were safe, and I was sure.
Why do I share with you those painful moments?
Because if you’re in that early phase of shock, anger, and desperate loneliness, I want you to know that you’re not alone. If you’re angry, you’re probably not really blaming God and thinking He’s laughing at you and hurling death into your life to watch you squirm. But you’re still angry at Him.
And if you’re still angry at Him, you’re probably mad because you know He’s all-powerful, and He could have stopped it. He could have stopped the car wreck, or the heart attack or the cancer cells. But He didn’t. And now you have to be happy with the comfort He gives you? Arrrgh!!!
So why didn’t I cave to those feelings, and why won’t you?
Because you have to believe, somewhere deep within you, that there is a purpose to allowing pain in our lives. I love what my pastor told us last week when he spoke on this exact topic. “We all have had that moment in life when we’re knocked off that wide road in life. The road that nearly everyone travels. The road of life with family, career, health, wealth. All the stuff that even if we don’t have it all, we have some of it, and enough to at least still have the hopes and dreams to getting it all. And the whole world is walking that road with you, and you feel like you’re part of it all—until it happens. Divorce, loss, sickness—and you’re knocked off the wide road and down onto the road less traveled.”
And you sit there on the road less traveled.
You’re angry, sad, lonely. And you might stay that way, but if you get past that, you begin to look around and really notice God more. You’re comforted by Him and suddenly you see Him like you’ve never seen Him before. And you notice fewer people are on this road less traveled. That’s because many people don’t stay there. It’s so uncomfortable at first that rather than staying and sorting it out in their grief, they climb back onto the wide road before they get a chance to see how beautiful the road less traveled is.
But I encourage you—look around while you’re in that place.
Bear with the grief and trust. You’ll begin seeing it. I promise. You begin seeing the beauty of this road. And that beauty, my sisters, is the euphoria that you hear us writing about. When you choose to walk the road less traveled, He gets so fresh in your hearts that you feel him, right there—through it all, and nothing the world has to offer, even the security of a husband, replaces feeling the love of God all around you, of feeling of Him directing your next steps.
I am amazed ladies, as I’ve suffered with crying along with my children this week as they have relived the pain of losing Dad, that I felt such a surge of God’s peace all through the late nights comforting and talking with them. Yes, it’s euphoria. It’s as James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Every tear is a step towards healing, so yes, I consider even the tears, joy, for as James says, you consider it joy: “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season. To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle
Would you like to read more about joy? Here are some articles you might try:
Sunshine and Rain by Teri Cox
The Gospel of His Grace by Sheryl Pepple