When my husband Dave died 6 years ago – the hardest thing for me to get used to was the ‘box marked widow’. I must have filled out 500 forms during the paperwork process, and on every one had to check that box for marital status. Widow. Widow. WIDOW!!! Ugh. This word was (is) hard for me to embrace.
The government had decided this was my label. My bank. My doctor’s office. My kid’s school. My tax returns. Over and over again I was forced to check the box marked widow.
I wanted to scream – this is not me! This is not who I want to be. I want to be wife. Partner. Helpmate. Sister. Daughter. Mother . Friend.
Instead I was in a box. A box I didn’t like. A box I didn’t choose. A box marked ‘widow’. Ugh.
In those early desperate days I asked God for something to hold onto from His word. I opened a devotional to a reading about Psalm 16 and the words literally jumped off the page at me. ‘This is my portion and my cup’ (vs. 5) . Essentially, in today’s language – ‘it is what it is’.
When the miracle doesn’t happen and the doctor’s news is grim and the relationship isn’t restored and you are standing in a cemetery, sometimes it simply ‘is what it is’. But oh, the sweet words of the next verse: ‘He will make the boundaries fall for me in pleasant places…’ In spite of today’s ugly reality, we have His word on it that He alone is charge of the boundaries of our life. Nothing happens to us out of reach of His loving hand.
So then how do we walk through this valley ? The next few verses of Psalm 16 are pretty clear with three ‘I wills’ to guide us; I will always set the Lord before me… I will praise the LORD, who counsels me. And finally, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Even on difficult days like this early journal entry depicts:
Sometimes the feelings of grief and loneliness are so strong that I feel as though
I am drowning.
The impossibility of this day-to-day reality without Dave
Makes it even hard to breathe.
today it is a never ending frustration with things.
things that break.
things that cost money.
things that can’t be fixed.
things that i am the only one responsible for cleaning and organizing and remembering.
There’s only one grown-up in the house now
and she’s really tired.
mommy, mommy, mommy,
can you? did you? would you?
thoughts of the future spiral ahead
will it be any different
five years from now?
will there be more mommy to go around?
will I finally have gotten a handle on this reality and become organized
and be the mature woman of God I have admired in others?
Will I ever come to grips with the word widow.
And single mother.
And always having leftovers because most recipes are designed to feed a family of four.
And we are no longer that.
Tonight there is just me and these words
and His words to me
And when all else fails, and the world is crumbling,
I can stand on His word….
Six years later…I’m still standing!
Psalm 16 ends with this promise:
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Precious friends – we may never know the answer to life’s hard questions, especially the whys of God’s timing surrounding those we love. But He has promised us His joy on this earth and eternity with Him. My box still says widow , but my Bible says He is with me, and my future is in His hands. I choose to praise Him. I choose to set Him before me. I choose to allow him to fill me with joy in his presence and live out loud as long as I have breath!