“And I will bless those who bless you.”
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
People around you want to help and visiting you is one way they can. After all, James 1:27 tells people to visit you in your affliction.
The first few months after Tom passed away, I was surrounded with sweet friends, family, cards, and phone calls. But after the second full year, my support system had waned. Can you relate?
People want to help, and many Christians follow James 1:27 by visiting widows in our affliction … at least for a while.
But family and friends can’t anticipate your every need or when a wave of grief will hit. There are times when they come at inappropriate moments, or you want to withdraw. People love you, but can’t always be there for you. I know eventually some don’t call anymore, many times because they don’t know when or how.
As a widow, how can you bless others? One way is by making it easy for them to help you. God told the Israelites that He blesses those who bless them (Genesis 12:3a). While He directed this to the Hebrews, this text teaches us that others receive when they can bless us. Desiring for others to be blessed is the beginning of helping you get the help you need.
But then, when you are down and need someone to help you move forward, besides the Lord, to whom would you turn?
I have a suggestion—compile a Basket of Ten.
A Basket of Ten is a simple technique designed to put the support needed for your healing process somewhat in your hands, so you take responsibility for it.
Support is Critical
When you are in a serious phase of grieving, you can’t deny it—you are emotionally needy. In many cultures, this is a bit frowned upon. People understand your needs right after your loss, but few understand how long grief takes to process. Some widows are blessed enough to have a few people who dote on them or a church network that is great at not dropping the ball on emotional support after the first few months or a year. But what about in the second year, when you still need a friend to talk to? One who won’t judge you for still having tears?
How It Works
- Cultivate a network – Take ten people who love you and would be willing to occasionally drop everything to listen and love on you. Start with your family—your sister, mother, aunt, or cousin—because you know they love you. Then add friends. Next, acquaintances. Soon you’ll find yourself keeping your eyes open for others to add to your Basket of Ten—the woman in a pedicure chair beside you or the lady next to you at your son’s ball game.
- Find the right number – You don’t need exactly ten. But you do have to have enough to maintain consistent, available support of healthy loved ones who respect you. With the ordeal you are going through, you will need help OFTEN. Having only a handful of support friends will not be enough.
- Never start with the same one – Rotate the order you call people. If you talked with your sister yesterday, try your neighbor today. And if someone always seems too busy or not caring enough—perhaps it’s just not a fit. It isn’t personal. Sometimes someone is in a place in her life where she simply can’t respond as well when you call for a listening ear. Have grace with her and keep your eyes open for another.
Fruits from the basket
After you’ve taken control of your healing, you’ll feel empowered to move forward. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
- Un-sour Grapes – Friends won’t feel awkward because they haven’t heard from you and think they’ve dropped the ball and neglected you. They know they are on your list and when you need them, they’re honored to be there.
- Smiling Bananas – You are getting the support you need and feel better about your healing.
- Sweet Orange – Better on the inside. You’ll develop deeper friendships based on more than just their occasional niceties.
The basket gives you a symbol of friends who will nourish you and sets guidelines for requesting their help with respect for their time. That type of boundary setting will carry on into your new season and set you on solid ground with friends.
Dear Father God,
We ladies come from such different walks of life and circumstances, but we all share the same heartache when it comes to loss. We each need Your love. Thank You for sending it through the hands, feet, and mouths of Your sons and daughters. Help each woman to consider formalizing her process of reaching out so she can form safe, healthy friendships to grow her through this season of grief.