I Choose… Do You?

By Leah Gillen

I heard a comic once say that it’s not people who kill the squirrel as it scurries across the street in front of a car, only to suddenly make a faulty decision to reverse and go the other way. Suddenly, it chooses to reverse again, turning right back in the direction it was running to begin with to face the ultimate…SMACK!

No – it’s not the person or the car that killed the squirrel. It was indecision. If the squirrel would have just kept running forward, it might have evaded the coming car and its ultimate death. Or maybe if the squirrel had stopped in its tracks, the car could have straddled it or veered around it. Instead…it scampered back and forth trying to decide what to do until it was too late.

I am the squirrel. No, I’m not growing a fuzzy tail and eating acorns. But, I find myself very indecisive these days – or unable to make decisions at all sometimes. In studying up on this journey of grief, I realize that’s perfectly normal for us widows. I realize this particular dilemma will also fade some in time, and my ability to make decisions (or make them more quickly) will return. Until then, I need help…from friends, my pastor, family, those that have traveled Grief Road before me, counselors, books, and most importantly God and His Word.

There are many choices that are unwise for us to make right now. But, there is one choice that I have decisively chosen to make, in spite of my pain…I choose to get well!

Much like the invalid of 38 years in the book of John, when Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

And how did the invalid respond? With an excuse, “Sir…I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

But, Jesus didn’t simply stop there. He didn’t say, “I’m so sorry. That’s such a shame. Maybe I can ‘stop traffic’ long enough for you to get down into the water.” Rather, Jesus the Healer said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” And what happened next? Scripture tells us, “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”

The man made a decision. He chose to do what Jesus asked him to do – without hesitation – and, he found his healing.

What does that look like for a widow in desperate need of healing from a broken heart, among other things?

In the early days…it might look like this…

When we feel like we can’t get out of bed…we CHOOSE to move locations, maybe just to the couch.

When we don’t feel like praying…we CHOOSE to utter one simple prayer, “Lord, please help me!”

When we don’t want to read the Word…we CHOOSE to open up the book of Psalms and simply read the first one.

When we don’t feel like socializing…we CHOOSE to return to church to allow God to love on us through other people. And, if we’re not loved on in that church, we CHOOSE another.

When we don’t think we can eat even a morsel…we CHOOSE to make and eat a piece of dry toast.

A few months or weeks down the road…it might look like this…

When we feel that we need more help processing our grief…we CHOOSE to seek the advice of a grief counselor or attend a program like Grief Share.

When the shock is wearing off, and the pain intensifies and we find we can’t cope at all…we CHOOSE to see a doctor about how we’re feeling.

When we can’t seem to muster up enough energy to do the basics around the house…we CHOOSE to share our struggle with a close friend or family member who can help us.

When we began to express anger towards our beloved husband…we CHOOSE to write him a letter expressing the pain, anger, and full emotion completely. That brings healing, in and of itself (I know firsthand).

When we don’t know the next step to take with all of the legal and financial decisions that must be made…we CHOOSE to make our needs known and let someone help us.

In the later months or years…it might look like this…

When our healing seems to be in full swing…we CHOOSE to open our hearts to another grieving widow that needs to know she’s not alone.

When we feel the lonely set in again…we CHOOSE to spend time with friends and not live as a hermit.

If/when we ever feel the desire to date once again…we CHOOSE to take the matter to the Lord for His decision to be made for us.

Making the decision to be well is the first step. It may takes us months or years to get there, but admitting that we want to be well, and then opening our hearts to allow God to work on us from the inside out is one of the most decisive choices we can make for ourselves as widows. Not only will we benefit from that choice, but our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, closest friends, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone else we interact with will also reap huge blessings from that initial decision for healing.

And most importantly…when we realize all that God has done for us through this most difficult journey…we CHOOSE to give Him glory!

And so…my sweet widow friends, what choice is God asking you to make today?


15 replies
  1. Leah Gillen
    Leah Gillen says:

    Precious Lesa – I sit here reading your words with tears blocking my vision. Your words are simply beautiful and so soon after Dean’s Homegoing. I am so thankful that you have an army of support surrounding you, because you will most definitely need that more in the days ahead. I’m thankful that you discovered A Widow’s Might, and I personally look forward to connecting with you more as you travel what I dub “Grief Road”. You are also welcome to connect with me by email (leahgillen89@yahoo.com) or on my personal blog/website at http://www.leahgillen.org. May God richly bless you and comfort you – especially now! May you have feel His touch upon you like never before! You are not alone!

  2. Lesa Johnson
    Lesa Johnson says:

    Thanks for the sharing and caring. I’ve loved Provers 31 for years.. It seems surreal to me that I have come here to see if there was anything for widows since I just became one. I am 49 years old and I lost my husband suddenly on January 26th, just over two weeks ago. We have two sons, 20 and 18 this week. My husband was 48, a 25-years’ service Sheriff’s Lieutenant, planning retirement later this year.. but no.. he came home from work on graveyard shift, and died on our bathroom floor from a massive pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lung. I found him.. and I am still stunned. I know this– Praise God, he was a man of Faith and our home is a Christian home, very healthy and respected for which I am so thankful.

    This has been the most emotional, draining, miraculous, inspirational, frightening and love-drawing time of my life. I have been stunned to see the nearly 900 people at my husband’s service and I am yearning for the quiet I need to wrap my arms around all of this. I have been praying and reaching for the Word and worship music to sustain. We were that popular couple from high school who always organized our class reunions, were the cute ones at the high school football games for our sons, and our single friends were so envious of what we had. Gone. In a few heartbeats. Gone.

    And through it all.. God has held me up.. carried me through. Sent the right people, teacher, speaker, friend, counselor or family member. My husband and I have been involved in camping ministries as volunteers for years and I have played keyboards for years in our church. We had a passion for souls together. I feel like I was a “mature” Christian and I know that “none of us are getting out of this alive”. As a law enforcement family we have discussed dying a lot.. and had most plans discused or pre-arranged “just in case” thank goodness. Yet.. I have cried and cried… my eyes have puddled in my bed as I lay there listening to the tick, tick, tick of the alarm clock. One reason I believe God has held me up so well is that the morning my Dean died I grabbed the first Chaplain on the scene, then the youth pastor, then my music pastor and asked them to pray with me that we would not waste this opportunity to show Jesus to the troops and to our lost friends and family. And.. God has been merciful and shown his amazing majesty and healing– last week over 50 friends and family came to church with me so that I didnt go alone. Many homes have been re-dedicated to the Lord. I am inspired and sustained that friends and family are saying I need Jesus. I am posting on Facebook several times a day and being able to minister to others, as well as recieve comfort from kind words and blessings from others. I know that I am still in the stunned mode, and it doesnt seem real– it seems at some moments that Dean is off on a long hunting trip or off to another Send Out Cards convention. But I know he is with the Lord. Tonight I am thankful to find a place here for widows.. so that I can explore my feelings, pray for guidance and strength for myself and others, and share whats on my heart. I know that God wastes nothing. I know that in this loss others will know Christ. I know that I will survive but I still hurt, I ache, and I have an empty spot in my bed a mile deep and wide.

    I look forward to chatting with and hearing from others here in this safe place. God will care for us all in a special way, I know. Love, Lesa Johnson. Sacramento, CA

  3. Leah Gillen
    Leah Gillen says:

    Barb – I will absolutely pray for you concerning your job situation. I am so very sorry to hear about this, and I know the kind of desperation that comes with job loss. There is nothing too hard for God to handle. Give it completely to Him. Keep me posted when He blesses you with that new job that you love! 🙂

  4. Barb Wall
    Barb Wall says:

    Dear Leah–I have been there and sometimes I do feel like that squirel–I am so “wishy-washy” about life!! I am trying to do better. Would you please say a prayer for me–the job I have had for the past 3 years is coming to an end on Feb 29th. I desperetley need a job and I pray it is one that I love. Thank you for sharing and many blessings to you,Barb

  5. Leah Gillen
    Leah Gillen says:

    Yvette – Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us exactly where we are? I’m so thankful you can quickly reject those lies the enemy tries to feed to us. Thank you for your encouraging comment sweet lady!

    Betty – Thanks for sharing…”Victory is determined not by the past but by our next choice.” Amen! Amen! and Amen! Beautifully spoken, and oh so wise!

  6. Leah Gillen
    Leah Gillen says:

    Kitty – I love what you shared from that pastor. Such powerful words, and oh so true! “Lingering in loneliness is choice”…I definitely choose NOT to linger. Love you lady!

    Kimberly – I’m so thankful that this post was encouraging to you. It sounds like you are wisely processing your grief, and I love the imagery of casting “JUST ONE shovelful aside”. Beautiful and so important! Bathe yourself in His love my sister!

  7. Betty
    Betty says:

    Dear Leah,

    Blessings upon your “sacred wound” this day! I guess that is ONE choice I have made, is to believe that even with ALL the pain it is “sacred”
    I so appreciate the way you “broke down” the choices into the “mile markers” on Grief Road. I read somewhere that “Victory is determined not by the past but by our next choice” You describe that beautifully in your post. Thank You!

  8. Yvette Masters
    Yvette Masters says:

    Confirmation once again! Yesterday in my journal I wrote: Lord heal me!!!!! At first it felt so good, then doubt crept in because I thought, “Yvette, you’re not sick, you just have to suck it up!” My heart felt it again and I wrote, LORD, HEAL ME!!!!!! in big, bold letters three more times, closed my journal and walk away! The Lord’s touch at that moment was indescribable! Guess what words will be in my journal today and everyday!!!! God is good! In reading this, He revealed Himself to me, an NO, I don’t have to suck it up! That is a lie! Thank you Leah for your post! God bless you! I love how God uses A Widow’s Might to heal my heart! Praying for this amazing ministry!

  9. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    Once again, such a very timely topic! Thank you for your candor and for the very practical steps we can take to get moving again. We all know those days when we were moving along fine the day before but wake up to find we “hit the wall” and are stuck… again.

    I’m in a small bookstudy group of ladies from church. We are working through “God’s Healing for Life’s Losses” by Dr Kellemen. Last night we spent quite a while talking about this very thing. I sat there thinking how we each want the grey fog of grief to part and the sun to shine and the birds to sing again, but some of the situations we are facing make us want to run and hide under the covers and wait for this dreary winter (physically and emotionally) to be over. Several felt the same as I do: we just get tired of having to “choose to choose” to get up and move on in the face of another day with this mountain called Grief. Your words were such and encouragement to take the mountain to God, grab His shovel of His joy, grace and mercy – and cast JUST ONE shovelful aside 🙂

    Personally, your suggestion of a simple sentence in prayer and reading just one Psalm was what I needed today. Its been a particularly busy week with my kids and I’ve been struggling to find time to connect to my Father’s heart. I think I’ll choose to make that time this morning by slowing the pace down enough to read a Psalm and then enjoy a few extra minutes in a hot shower with my favorite bathwash while letting my Father wash my heart and shower me with His love 😉

  10. Kitty Hinkle
    Kitty Hinkle says:

    So beautifully put, Leah. I heard a pastor today say something like “Being alone is a condition, lingering in loneliness is a choice. God gave us His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the saints around you to lift you out of loneliness, but only you can choose to reach for these.”

  11. Leah Gillen
    Leah Gillen says:

    Renee – What an encourager you are sweet lady! Thank you for taking the time leave such a beautiful comment. I’m SO proud of you for recognizing that today is the day to tackle your husband’s clothes. I know that had to be a very difficult decision for you but one that I’m sure will bring you great peace down the road.

    Carrie – Thank you so much sweet lady! You have such a special place in my heart. Thank you for continuing to follow the journey of this widow.

    Sheila – My new friend, I don’t think you’ll ever doubt that CHOICE you made in the hospital room a few short months ago. Even when things don’t make sense (and they won’t)…even when people tell you that you should feel something else (and they will)…stand by that CHOICE. He is Who He says He is!

  12. Sheila Rye
    Sheila Rye says:

    SO TRUE . . . I have referenced that on that terrible day in that cold lonely hospital room, I had to CHOOSE – to believe everything I ever claimed to believe or deny it. . . I’m so glad I CHOSE to believe . . . God’s arms have been SO GENTLE and amazingly loving! ♥
    And each and every day (moment by moment many days) I CHOOSE to continue to trust! 🙂
    Love you girl ♥

  13. Renee'
    Renee' says:

    So much healing will come forth from that critical, all-important decision you have made! You bless us by sharing your beautiful heart and life. Thank you for your voice of encouragement and holding our hands through your gifted writing!

    Today, I am deciding to deal with my husband’s clothes. No more procrastinating; time to do this! We will ALL get through this season in our lives in the Lord’s strength, because He wants us to be well and healed again! God bless you dear friend!
    Hugs, Renee’

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