I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 118: 21-29
June 16th, 2010, the day my husband got heaven, was the day my world and life as I knew it ended.
That day, my husband took his own life.
It was the single hardest day of my life and it broke me in so many ways. But, I wasn’t the only one. What happened that day broke many people; our children, our family, our friends, our church, and many strangers who heard it as breaking news or went by the scene.
That day I was spared though, because I wasn’t with him, and I didn’t find him. Yet, there were a handful of strangers who weren’t spared. I’ve thought and prayed for them often.
There was a man who stopped within seconds and was the first to try to help him. Then a second man who stopped and helped, and a woman had stopped too. In the end I was told there were about five in those first precious minutes, who stopped on the side of a busy road and were there to help and protect my beloved husband until paramedics arrived.
I prayed for years that they’d be protected from what they saw and what they did would be honored. That it wouldn’t scar them. And that they could find peace in it. I even prayed for the opportunity to thank them.
Last year, I got a message from the woman who stopped. We corresponded via email and I could sense her pain. After a time, we agreed to meet.
As we sat and talked, she shared intimate details of that precious horrific day. We both shed mighty tears. At one point she shared that she’d been tormented by what she saw. That she kept dreaming of it and couldn’t get one picture out of her head; the image of his strong left hand where his shining unblemished wedding band was resting gently on his leg. As she sobbed and shared, I reached up and took my necklace off.
In it was something I needed her to hold, because I had taken Scott’s wedding ring and made a necklace from it. I handed it to her and she held it so tight. In that moment, I saw her release some of the pain of that day and those terrible images. She could see the new I created in that ring and in our life. I shared my great God with her too. And I pray she saw Him shine as I talked.
I’ve never seen her since, but I’m so grateful for our time. I’m most grateful God gave me a chance to meet one of those who cared enough to stop. I love that I can now pray so specifically for her, and I hope that she saw God’s love and glory on full display in and through me.
I share this with you sisters because your story matters. Your husband’s death matters. Your suffering matters. The suffering of others matters. The kindness of others matters. The healing matters. And sharing matters!
God wants to use your ugly, messy, sad, precious story for His glory. It’s certainly not easy or comfortable for some of us. There are those who will never see our story through the grace filled, redemptive eyes of Christ, and will instead judge us. But, that’s ok. I can’t control others. I can just lay my story humbly before the Lord, committing it to Him, relinquishing my control over it.
The day I met that woman is right up there with one of my toughest days. The harsh realities of what happened that day reopened wounds for me. But my comfort, my heart, my pride, or even my privacy doesn’t matter if I’m blocking God from using me, my husband, and our story to help others and bring Him great glory!
If I hide away, I’m just giving the enemy more victory and I’m robbing God! And I’m wasting our suffering. What additional tragedy that would be.
My husband is gone. The days leading up to it were terrible. And his death was horrible. But that’s where the bad stops and the good starts. God allowed bad, but He will work it for His good and glory. I believe and trust that!
And I trust Him!
That day, our story became HIS STORY!
Father, help us to be bold. Helps us to humbly watch You work and move in our lives. Give us the courage to relinquish any shame we may feel over our story to Your greater purposes. Let us be a light in dark places, and give us opportunities to share even the ugly stuff, so we can glorify You. I thank You for the messy story You’ve given me and I pray, Lord, that You give me the strength I need to walk this journey as a humble servant in Your mighty hands. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.
Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her.
If you are interested in having her or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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