I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Just before what would become our last family vacation together, my sweet husband gathered his household of girls and announced we would be spending that time at our Texas property, doing, of all things–barn painting! We women in the family were not thrilled. We anticipated something a little more exciting in the middle of a hot July summer.
But we got started, stripping the paint off the barn and removing rotten wood. We worked diligently to rid the walls of any old and worn materials. Hours were spent preparing the walls to receive a fresh coat of paint. Then we spent days priming the barn. Rotten wood was replaced. Every inch of bare wood was covered with primer to allow the fresh coat of paint to illuminate renewal.
Finally the day arrived to apply the paint, which brought the barn walls back to life with the artful crafting of the new color on the walls and accents of white to the doors and windows. That discolored shabby barn became transformed.
This barn renewal, was so much like my journey through the grief process. Upon entering the third year of widowhood, I sought a new heart and purpose for my deep grief. I had trudged through all the major emotions; denial, sadness, anger, bitterness, disbelief. It was time to replace my “baggage” with renewal, purpose, and a new heart, much like the process of repainting the barn, with three basic steps: strip, prime, and paint!
Strip Off the Bad
That first year, a lot had to be stripped away from me…denial, anger, bitterness, confusion. There was a bundle of rotten wood in my heart. All those “plans” we had made had to be sanded away as well. I knew I had to let go of all that was and all that had been to make room for a transformation. I had to let go of the past.
The second year was spent priming myself. I had to cover my heart, thoughts and actions in God’s grace more so than I ever had. I will be honest with you, many days I was just not happy about my life! But, just as we had to cover every inch of that barn with a primer, so too, I had to allow God to cover every inch of my heart, thoughts, and emotions with His love and grace. The Bible continuously tells us He knows the plans He has for us, and they are for good. I had to accept this new path in my life.
The third year, I became receptive to receive my new paint. I began seeking what my purpose would now be in this season of my life. And I am seeing this “new building” God is creating within me. It has taken me over three years to arrive at this point, but day by day, I am receiving His paint (plan) for my life. I am watching a transformation from despaired widow to hopeful widow
God has a plan, my sisters. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, He has made everything beautiful in His time. Even in this journey of widowhood, He will make it beautiful. I have found it impossible to walk this journey and not be changed for Him and His glory. My husband would want me to press on; to live, and to live with joy. If I did anything less, it would be a disservice to my husband’s memory and to my Christian walk.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for creating newness in my heart as I move forward in this journey of widowhood. Please create a renewed hope and spirit in all my sisters who are walking this path. Our hearts ache as we grieve the love we miss. Help us to see your plan and purpose as we seek the change this new chapter will bring to us. Create a new spirit within us. Amen