It’s Okay To Be Real!

“It’s okay to be real!”

I repeated that phrase multiple times after my husband died — to my children, to myself, and later to other widows.

There is no “right” way to grieve.

We all process differently. Some people are private. Some spill every thought and emotion for all to see.

I was a new widow with five children, all trying to process our loss. It would have been great to think that together we would follow a set path of grief from one stage to the next. That is not how it worked.

I have a couple of children who analyzed each thought as we talked. Others would dump a load of thoughts at one time but did not expect to discuss them. Some wanted to rush through grief by listening to every sad song they could get their hands on. Others did not want to hear anything sad and fell apart listening to music in general.

WHEW!

I wondered how I would cope and work through my own grief while helping my children who approached it differently. Then I remembered airplane protocol during an emergency landing — I needed to take care of me FIRST, in order to help them.

Grief rolls like a rollercoaster!

Grief can be ugly. At its most raw, it can make other people feel helpless and uncomfortable. Covering up our feelings in order to please others or keep them from concern does not help anyone.

That is why I told my children, “It’s okay to be real!”.

Pretending grief is not there because you don’t want to go through the pain is not an option either. Eventually each stage hits you, ready or not. Repeatedly directing yourself back to God’s Word for your response to grief makes it easier to navigate in times of need.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

We each had needy days when grief felt like the gravitational pull of the earth magnified solely on us, paralyzing even normal movement. For me those days were few. When they came around I was very intentional to allow my mind and body to have much needed rest. I was watchful of my children and when I saw they were having one of those days I directed their activities to stop for necessary down time.

Other days we felt more capable of navigating life, though grief was still present. On those days we resumed normal activities. We attempted to move forward the way my husband would have encouraged us to do.

The best days included laughter again over things large and small. The blessing of uncontrollable laughter that returned was the best because we all loved to laugh.

In hindsight, our differences were a blessing from God.

One or more would encourage any who were having a bad day. After the initial shock of our loss, I don’t remember many times when everyone struggled simultaneously. Even on dreaded “first” celebration days it was amazing how we helped each other. We learned flexibility and to read each other’s distress signals well.

There is nothing abnormal about grieving openly, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for some people to observe. Jesus Christ set our example at the death of his friend, Lazarus:

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (ESV)

Friends told us it helped them to see how our family grieved together because we made it easy for others to grieve with us. One dear friend told me she was determined to interact differently with her own children after watching me grieve openly with mine because she had never let her children see her cry about anything. Learning to grieve with others is a blessing.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (ESV)

It’s okay to be real!

 

Lord, please help us to allow other people to share in both our joy and in our grief. We do not know what added blessing may come from our willingness to be real in our relationships. Make us aware of the needs of those around us who might not realize that they can be real with us, too. Please help them to know that we care. Amen.


 

Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Articles with a similar theme:  All Eyes are NOT on You   Get Over It 

All Eyes are NOT on You

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)

“Please pray for me to be joyous. I want to be a light to people around me.”

Those were the words of a precious friend who had recently lost her husband and felt the weight of everyone’s eyes upon her.  She was trying to be strong for everyone else, but as we all know, it’s not always easy to be joyous or bold. We can’t simply step over our grief and get to the joy without first acknowledging our struggle.

The “good Christian woman” who handles her grief with no vulnerability seems too high up on a pedestal—an example too perfect to be of any use by others. The times people have seen me spill tears over Tom makes their witness of my pinnacles of joy and bold steps forward more real as God’s light in their lives.

Most widows struggle with these two polar images–the tearful widow and the fearless widow. Do you find yourself wondering how people around you picture you? Let’s explore these two stereotypes of the widow and then decide why neither fit.

The Tearful Widow

When the loss was fresh, the way people fussed over me both warmed me and made me feel awkward. I didn’t want them to stop because I didn’t want to be alone. At the same time, I felt pitying eyes constantly watching me through my ups and downs. Sometimes when I cried in public, I’d worry over what others thought of my tears, embarrassed to be the object of everyone’s sympathy.

The Fearless Widow

On the flip side, it’s also okay to have a surge of boldness and decisiveness as long as your decisions are grounded in God’s wisdom.

I didn’t hesitate to take bold steps to help my kids and me in managing our grief and our family matters. My actions were based on prayer and direction from the Lord, but stepping out in faith had me worried people would think I wasn’t sad enough–like making bold decisions about my future would lack reverence for my lost husband.

You’re not the Center of Attention:  What a Relief!!!

I started to put pressure on myself—to fret over what others thought of my grieving.

Women so naturally worry about relationships around them. Sometimes, it’s a relief to remember that people aren’t always focused on exactly what we are doing or what our reactions and behaviors are. In a way, it’s pretty self-centered to think people are! Everyone is so busy with their lives—just reassuring them how grieving naturally involves a mix of tears and triumphs is the best way to handle what feels like the glare of people noticing us in our grief.

Audience of One

I was only able to be a light when I stopped my worry over what they thought of me. I purposefully stilled the thoughts, as the Psalmist wrote God asks us to do. “Be still and know that I am God.” I had to stop looking around me for approval and accept only the watchful eyes of the Father.

My friend has since decided to do what I had done—learn to relax about what others think and rest in Him as the Psalmist suggests. People expect neither unnatural joy nor gnashing of teeth during our grief. Often we presume people are watching when really, we have the freedom to take time to just experience our sadness. Just acknowledging our pain helps us heal and move on.

Dear Lord, give us a stillness in our hearts that protects us from feeling observed and exposed. Help us to see the attention given us in the eyes You give us through our new creation and not through our flesh of self-absorbed anxieties. People care and love us. Isn’t it wonderful, Lord? Help us to accept that love and read nothing more into it. Give us the freedom to grieve the way You ask us to and not feel pressured to express ourselves the way we think others expect our grief to be expressed.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about being vulnerable?  Here are some articles you might try:

One Million Tears by Liz Anne Wright

Triggers: Your Sister Feels them Too by Kit Hinkle

Fall Devotional Book Celebration Give Away!

The Fall Edition of our daily devotional book –

For the Love of HER Life!

Available through Amazon on August 20, 2014

Sisters,

Many of you have asked! Now we have an answer for you!   We are so very close to releasing our next volume of daily devotionals which will pick up where our summer devotional ended.  Elizabeth Dyer and her team of helpers have been working on compiling it all summer long.

Our summer devotional was such a wonderful blessing to many of our readers and as gifts to friends of our readers who are not familiar with our ministry. We’ve heard from many of you through emails, phone calls, tweets, and comments on our facebook page.  And all of you are telling us how much the devotional helped you and your friends. We would like you to tell Amazon readers about it too!  Let’s get the word out!

To encourage you to do so, and in honor of our release date, we want ONE of you to have a copy of the new fall edition for FREE!  Please go to Amazon and write a review of the summer edition.  One Amazon reviewer will be chosen at random to receive the newest edition absolutely free.

Please go here and review our book.  It is that simple. Please have your review submitted before August 20, 2014.

We are so excited to get this latest book into your hands.  We wish we could reach readers in every church and every women’s ministry, so that every widow can be reached with encouragement.  That is our prayer.  Every penny from the book sales goes straight into our ministry and enables us to keep doing the Lord’s work.

If God leads you, buy one for yourself and one for someone for whom you are praying. Perhaps put one in the hands of your church’s pastoral care minister.  Don’t forget about our sisters who have no Internet access but could definitely benefit from an encouraging message every day. Give one to someone who has just lost her husband.  Trust us, when she’s ready to open it, she will be greeted with stories by women who get what she is going through and will help her lean on Christ for healing!

We can’t wait to have this devotional ready for you in the coming weeks! God bless you for supporting this ministry!

 

One Million Tears

…a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…
Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV

It was about a month after my husband had passed away, the boys and I were talking, and it quickly turned into reminiscing about their dad. Matthew, my then-six year old started to tell a story about his dad. My oldest son, nine at the time, shot him a look, and Matthew stopped talking.

“What’s up, guys?” I asked.

“We don’t want to make you cry, Mom.”

“Oh, honey,” I said. “Mom’s gonna cry. There is no way around that. I have about a million tears I have to cry. They just have to come out. Nothing you say or don’t say is going to stop that. We need to talk about Dad…and we need to cry.”

As the months continued, I would periodically give them a “tear update”…how far we were into the million.

They are not all gone; I still have more tears to cry…six and a half years later. Not as often, not as hard (usually), but they are still there…and they still need to come out.

Research shows that tears have great value. Our eyes wouldn’t physically work without them. They keep our eyeballs hydrated, they have an antiseptic value to protect the eye from irritants that enter, and they work to get those irritants out.

Research also shows there is another value to our tears…stress relief. Emotional tears have been shown to purge chemicals from the body that are released during stress…which helps the body get back to chemical balance.

Even Jesus cried when His good friend Lazarus died – even though He knew He would raise him again (see John 11:34-36).

One of the best pieces of advice that I received the week Keith died was from a dear widow friend. She came up to me, took my hands in hers, and said, “Cry whenever you feel like it…in the grocery, in front of the kids, wherever. You need to.”

God made these tears. He knew they were coming, just as He knew Keith would be joining Him in Heaven…just as He knew that this life without Keith, while hard, would be more than enduring…it would be learning to live again.

I pray that wherever you are in your million-tear count, dear sisters, you can feel the presence of the Lord in them, and that you have the strength to carry on through them.

Dear Father, there are many, many tears in this journey of widowhood. Sometimes it is very hard to cry them all. Please give me the strength to cry when I need to, regardless of where I am and who will see. If Jesus cried tears of grief over a death, then I guess it is OK for me, also. Please help me to not bottle up my emotions, but to understand that all of them come from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God Sent A Sparrow

“Not one sparrow is forgotten by God.” Luke 12:6 (NIV)

I was fully prepared to attend our daughter’s College graduation by myself. I was not prepared to attend alone.

Going by myself meant I would attend the ceremony, take pictures and then go to the care center to share the experience with my husband.

Going alone meant that just ten hours earlier I had received the dreaded call – he had passed in his sleep.

Sitting in the arena on that Sunday afternoon in May, I was in a fog. I desperately wanted to get up and pace – sitting still was difficult. If I sat still too long, I would begin to cry again – and this was not the place for “those” kind of tears. Mercifully I was flanked on each side by kind women who were present for grandchildren. The usual small talk ensued and, in response to their innocent questions, I had to tell them that my husband had passed just hours before. How kind they were, taking my hand and patting my shoulder – a true blessing. During our conversation we had all noticed a bird flying about in the upper rafters. We paid it little mind, because it is a common occurrence to see such things in large arenas.

Music started, the graduates processed in and sat down, and all was quiet. Then, suddenly, right at my feet was a tiny, female sparrow. She looked up at me, tilted her head and then flew away into the rafters again. How grateful I was for the distraction of this little bird’s presence. By focusing on her I could refrain from crying and move my head slightly to watch her – thus relieving my desire to get up and pace.

The little sparrow was respectful during the invocation and speeches and stayed high in the rafters – until there was a break. Each time it was quiet, she would fly down over our daughter’s head! She was causing quite a stir among the people around me, for the story had spread about why I was there “alone”; and I had already pointed out where our daughter was sitting.

As each graduate walked across the stage the little sparrow was again very respectful, waiting in the rafters quietly. Then it came our daughter’s turn. Our beautiful daughter held herself proudly and received her College Diploma with Magna Cum Laude Honors! And when she returned to her seat that little, tiny sparrow flew down from the rafters directly over her head again!

My husband loved the sparrows in our yard. He fed them regularly and made sure there were plenty of houses (which he made himself) for them.  It was no “coincidence” or “accident” that brought that sparrow there to comfort me that Sunday in May three years ago.

No, the sparrow was not my husband as I heard some say. I truly believe that little bird was sent by God Himself to help His newest widow through a most difficult day.

That day I was much like that sparrow – lost and alone in a very big, strange place. In the three years since, I have grown stronger, and have been able to use my wings in ways I never expected – even in a big, strange place called “widowhood”. It has not been easy. I do still miss my husband; and, to be honest, I needed to take a break from typing to shed some tears.

Now, I ask this question: “If God is able to guide a lone sparrow to a College graduation ceremony in May, isn’t He more than able to guide each of us as we journey down our individual paths of widowhood?”

Dear Father, My love for You has grown and deepened over these last years. You have shown me in countless ways how valuable I am to You – and I am so grateful. Continue to guide us Father – we are Your tiny sparrows – so much in need of Your love and care.

Triggers- Your Sisters Feel them Too

by Kit Hinkle

11Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. 12When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky.13Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

Job  12: 11-13

Yesterday on our Facebook page, we asked ladies what are those triggers that can set us off into thinking about the husband we lost and start the tears going?  Today I want us to look at the answers and how much of a community of sisters you have around you who understand.  Then I’d like to ask how can you use those triggers and the tears that result to move you forward rather than holding you back?

First the question:  Ladies, what typically triggers a bout of grief tears for you? A memory of something sweet? A frustrating episode in a day? Having to go somewhere alone?

The answers came quickly… widow after widow stating her plight, and her sadness.  They aren’t being complainers, and they aren’t being dramatic.

They’re being real.

The pain of losing your husband is a real ache that lasts beyond the original shock, because the aftershocks of the implications of walking alone through life without him keep coming.

And just as Job’s friends sat with him for a while and said nothing but just had compassion on him, I would like to let you sit with your friends here on A Widow’s Might, and just listen and have compassion for your sisters.  Perhaps take a moment and pray over each and every one of them here, that the Lord bring healing and comfort and a new season of joy to them.

our_friends_listen-159123_thumb Then I’ll introduce a word about Job that might bring a perspective that will have you shedding the pain of loss, if not just a little, and moving forward.

  • Kelly Jo Tims Yes, yes and yes
    23 hours ago · Like · 5
  • Linda Rich Mostly a memory of something
    23 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Linda Rich Don’t like when that happens..decided to post itself…as I was saying..mostly sweet memories and tears of thankfulness that I had a man love me unconditionally for so long…
    23 hours ago via mobile · Like · 6
  • Yolanda Kruger An empty, dark quiet house…. Nearly 7 years later its unbearable.
    23 hours ago via mobile · Like · 6
  • Nancy Brown Pfeiffer All of the above and then some! My best friend John passed away 5 long sad months ago. I am so sad, lost & feel my tremendous loss daily. He was the most considerate, thoughtful, loving , caring, positive man I have ever known. What an impression he made on so many! He adored me daily. How precious our love! Missing my love John so very much every..single..day.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 5
  • Lynn Pritchard Yes an empty house, going places alone, unexpectedly coming across something that triggers off an overwhelming memory and sense of unbearable loss . . Sometimes no reason . . just a black day
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 6
  • Patti-cakes Craig Lawrence When things happen that I never had to deal with on my own… Toilet overflows , car troubles,garage door breaks,etc…
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 9
  • Karen Kelly Watching my kids hurt.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 5
  • Becky Dudley-Teravest I think a trigger is seeing couples that are unthankful for what they have… or hearing others trash talking their spouse. I usually don’t meddle but it’s really hard to ignore.
    22 hours ago · Like · 11
  • Amber Fleming All of the above!!!
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • Marda Barnes The flood of memories. Its been almost 2 1/5 years. Steve was a trucker always away from home. So being alone never really bothered me. I’d go about things as usual, then reality steps up to remind me, like a slap in the face.that he’s no longer gonna call or text or send flowers. What’s really been difficult for almost 30 yrs. I spent my nights alone & with never much of a problem sleeping, but theses past few years restful sleep is a thing of the past. I know its because I wait for him to call me to tell me he loves me & say goodnight.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • Sue Hawkins Kuklok Today it was simply looking at a restaurant that my husband and I might have a casual conversation about. It really is just missing somebody that I felt completely one with. But I can relate so much to what you other ladies have said. I’m praying for you all.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Carrie McDonald Dalton I think the biggest trigger for me is when something goes wrong that my husband would normally handle. Like when The car or something at the house needs repair. I just feel so overwhelmed and uncertain that I am doing the right thing. I feel bad or silly having to ask others for help. I remember almost having a total meltdown in the lightbulb aisle one day. A seemingly simple task, but I haven’t bought bulbs in over ten years. He always just took care of it. When did there become so many options?!?!?
    22 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 2
  • Grace Adek When my daughter comes from school crying that other kids keep talking about their dads!!!I just feel helpless and inadequate!
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Katie Martin Cromeans God bless the broken road by rascall flatts. It was our song and I still can’t listen to it.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Sheila Shilo Those unexpected things.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Gina Nelson When my daughter asks why daddy had to go to heaven and why he can’t come home. She asks about and wants her daddy more and more often as she gets older. That’s so hard.
    22 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • Caysie Anne Williams right now its everything, Im 2 months away from my hubby being gone a year and I feel like I just lost him
    21 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Susan Harmon All of the above at some point I’ve felt each emotion
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • Peggy Troupe All of the above, but a lot of times, it is when we celebrate a birthday of one of the grandkids. Family dinners
    21 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Jodi Wagnitz Craig My son was cying the other day and when I asked him what is wrong he said he misses his daddy. It breaks my heart. It’s the only pain we as moms can not take away, the hurt and loss of a father or other loved one that our children love so very much. To know my children feel such pain causes me pain. I wish so very much to be able to make it all better. My heart goes out to all of you feeling the pain and loss of losing a loved one and trying so very hard to not only get through it yourself but help your children cope as well. God Bless you and yours. ♡
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 4
  • Carlene Weaver Harlan Today… Just simply waking up… Just started to cry… Will be 3 yrs nov 10…
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • Lorraine Becker It just hits me like a wave out of nowhere.
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 4
  • Doris Walker Shackelford Sundays! I miss him beside me at church.
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 6
  • Mary E. Robbins It’s hit and miss…
    21 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Wendy Hodges Jordan When I think about the future….graduations, weddings, grandchildren & growing old alone
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 5
  • Nicole Smith Rememberin the last time i saw him or thinkin of when im goin 2 c his face n hold him again are big ones 4 me
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Bonnie Bjorge Endres Walking thru the family traditions without him. Last night….. Grandkids harvest carnival at school. Thanksgiving….Christmas…he’s been gone three years and we’ve already had two more grandkids that won’t know him.
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • Robin Stoecker Conley Well, today it was a Kenny Chesney song…my husband died 3 days before we were to leave on our annual family vacation to the beach, where we would blast Kenny Chesney songs all the way down and be in the vacation mode when we arrived:(
    21 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Susan Wenning Crain Watching my kids struggle. Especially at big occasions in their lives
    21 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • Nanshelle Schatz Ganz I’m not a weeper, but being alone surrounded by couples is very hard.
    20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 5
  • Roxanne Ehrke The thoughts associated with living my remaining days without him. Can’t shake the loneliness.
    20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 7
  • Patti Conger All of the above
    20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • Terri Hornbeck Oxner 18 months out and feeling all of the above; living life because there is no other choice and trying to live it well as he would have wanted me to do.
    20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 4
  • Debbie Piercey Samples My son is a senior so that triggers a lot of sadness. I hate that he will graduate without his dad.
    20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 5
  • Debra Phipps Eighteen months for me too and it’s not getting easier.And you’re right Terri we don’t have a choice. I don’t think at any age this could be easy, but thank God my children are all grown, you women still raising children are my heroes! I think I am here for Gods purpose so, I try to make the best of it!
    20 hours ago · Like · 5
  • Teresa O’Daniel Alvarez Hurd I’m only 4 1/2 months into this. EVERYTHING triggers tears. Being alone is the hardest. I miss being held the most. Holidays are coming, I just want to sleep until they are over.
    19 hours ago via mobile · Like · 5
  • Jeri Hozey 
    TOTALLY AGREE with the last post .
    17 hours ago via mobile · Edited · Like
  • Greglola Gam ALL OF THE ABOVE… AND MUCH MORE… just about anything… oh my… looking into his eyes… holding him… and yes going to bed alone… and yes… holidays and any event… and yes… watching couples… AND MUCH MORE…
    19 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Alice Caerbert Heefner Receiving a wedding invitation that is only addressed to me. No plus one or guest included. This has got to be the hardest thing for me. (I also think it’s inconsiderate, but maybe not something the bride’s family realizes)
    19 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Kasey Marshall Can I just say all of the above? Not having another person who is interested in sports and politics like me. That is always a trigger too
    18 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Sandi Meyer Krol It has been 2 1/2 years and I would say all the above. It’s not gotten any easier and never know what might set off my tears.
    18 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • Kimberly Mauney Carnes I agree. It’s been sixteen months and all the above still trigger tears.
  • Esther Bull Just over a year now & just had the interment recently (finally – miracle that it happened at all!) Feel like I’m back to square one, & totally alone (despite crying out to God)! Not able to get out on my own due to ongoing health (long story) but makes it worse when so many days go by without seeing anyone. Anything & everything can trigger tears – [this is really a step backward for me] the frustrations of having to try to get through on my own without my Best Friend who always tried to understand, help me – despite his own struggles – & always found ways to make me smile! I’m a mess
    17 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Wanda Gladney My husband was a pastor. I have continued on in the ministry, and just last month I was preparing to preach at a church, and it was the first time that I was going to be doing this without the support of my husband. I knew that I would move into this role, but I had always expected him to be by my side. It’s been two years for me. That really brought a truck load indeed.
  • Julia Willoughby It has been 11 years for me and I still miss him every day just don’t cry as much. I have made a life for myself but don’t think it will ever include marriage. I miss the discussions on politics and hearing his views on what’s happening in the world. Also helping me with crosswords. He knew roman numerals in a flash. I guess now it is mostly the little things.
  • Dawn McCordic Having to fix something that takes an hour or more and know he would have done it in 10 minutes. Or worse yet needing to pay a repair man $400 and know he could have fixed it for $25 and done a better job.

 

Now for God’s Word.
Consider the story of Job.  How he had everything a man would want.  How the devil suggested that if Job didn’t have everything he wanted, then Job wouldn’t be such a righteous servant of God.  That it is only because of Job’s blessings that Job praises God.
God allowed the enemy to hurt Job to let the enemy see if Job would curse God.  Satan did.  Job was patient. He waited and trusted.
Are you patient? Do you trust God?  Really trust God that He’s accomplishing something in this season of your life?
Meditate on these words:
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:5-7a, NIV). 

Tomorrow I’ll continue on this story of Job.  Meanwhile, ask yourself this.  What can you learn from the story of Job to change your perspective about your tears over those triggers?  Here’s a clue for where I’m heading.  What do you know about Job’s situation that he didn’t know?  What might you not know about your situation that only God knows?

Saloon Door Theology

Join us today in welcoming a new guest blogger, Jo King.  Jo became a widow a year ago yesterday, is mother to Becca, a graduate student, and is a high school teacher. Jo’s husband Bruce was only 50 whenever he entered heaven.  He lived his life here on earth to serve others, using Ecclesiastes 5:3 as his motto.  She lost her best friend the day he died, but found God standing in the gap, ready to walk with her through the difficult path of widowhood.  She shares from her heart here…..

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place.” Proverbs 15:3a, NRS

Saloon Door Theology, a term I first heard from Dr. David Bishop during a theology seminar. Saloon Door Theology–a way of teaching a biblical concept which may not be perceived the same way by all who are listening. A saloon door is most welcoming to the first individual entering through the door. Yet, the person following may get slapped in the face as the door swings back.

A great example of saloon door theology is a pastor stating our loving Father is there for us all. Sounds great to most, right? But what about the individual who has suffered with abuse at the hand of her own father? Can that person relate to the analogy? The entire concept may be lost on that person.

Suddenly I realized there are also Saloon Door Situations. I encountered a situation such as this recently. Let me take the long way around to explain.

Church has been difficult for me since my husband’s death nearly a year ago. You see, Bruce was instrumental in my returning to church and again trusting God. Therefore, every time I go, I am overwhelmed with reminders of him.

This morning, for the first time since his sudden death, I am in a good mood, eager to join together with God’s people in worship. An easy light banter with friends before the service has me smiling as I enter the choir loft, and as I sang through the first two songs. I was so ready to worship God joyfully!

Our adult education minister stands to welcome the congregation, congratulating a couple on their 69th wedding anniversary. Wow! 69 years married! And all I can think of is my Bruce. Why did we only get 22 years?! Why was he taken from me so young?!

I feel the saloon door slap me in the face. My joy is gone. Grief crashes into me, rushing over me yet again. I struggle through the rest of the music, hiding my feelings through the sermon as I sit facing the whole church in the choir loft.

The pastor begins to preach on Proverbs 15:3. The Lord is with us even when we try to hide from him or when we think he isn’t there. Even though we may perceive God is not present, the reality is God is with us at all times and in all places. That message drives home for me personally. God knows my situation. He knows I am hurting. He knows I miss my husband, and how those feelings cut like a knife into my chest. He knows that I’m just struggling to breathe and not cry in front of all these people.

The Lord is here to comfort me, holding my hand through this entire process. He will not forsake me. He has blessed me in a thousand small ways. I need only to concentrate on the blessings and not on the loss.

I begin to count those blessings. Wow! God is so great, so magnificent…and yet he is also in every small detail. I see His work appear in seemingly trivial times, as well.  I want to burst into song again. The song Count Your Blessings streams through my mind! The grief is pushed back, and joy slowly pushes through again. I feel a quiet, simple peace, joy fueled by God’s love and empowered through His Word.

Then I realize…God has done it again. He has blessed me with this pastor and his words, with music I have sung in the past, by friends who smile and give quick hugs…God is so good!

God, I pray that you continue to make me and others who are suffering aware of the many blessings you shower on each of us continuously. Thank you for scripture which pops into our minds as we struggle. Thank you for the music streaming unbidden through our subconscious, which is always just the right song for a particular time and situation.  Thank you for the pastors who bring the honest and truthful messages of your word, who don’t apologize when the sermon steps on toes, and who are always there when we need a human hand. Thank you, Lord, for your love!  Amen.

 

 

 

 

Thank Those Who Know to Just Listen

by Kitty Hinkle

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 9:9 (ESV)

When you really need comfort, don’t you appreciate those loved ones who get that they need say nothing but to just be with you and understand?

I have to admit, I had to ignore a lot of comments that could have added more salt to my wound of loss and just consider the sweet intention that was meant by the words. Well-meaning people want to find the right words for your situation, but sometimes, the words that work best are simply no words, but a comforting way of just being with you. Have you had to overlook some faux pas?

I recall reading Lisa Beamer’s book, Let’s Roll, about her husband Todd who died courageously foiling the terrorists’ plans to possibly crash a jetliner into our nation’s White House.

As she sat in her dark bedroom the night of Todd’s death, in deep pain, avoiding the many words of many well-meaning friends, one sweet believing Christian friend sat by her side and said absolutely nothing.  Just quietly kept watch and prayed as Lisa let the reality of her loss settle over her.

Do you have a friend who will do this for you?  If so, let her know what a sweet salve she is to you.

And for those who have perhaps tried to help with the wrong words, forgive them, and try to love them for the intentions they had for healing words.  Many in this world aren’t equipped with the righteousness given by our Lord Jesus Christ and try with only the world’s tools at hand, to help in situations that call for far more spiritual tools.

Blessings sisters, in loving on our sisters and brothers as they try their best to help in times of loss.

Yes! I. Still. Cry.

by Leah Stirewalt

I was involved in a video shoot not too long ago in which I shared my story (actually God’s story, if I’m speaking truthfully). The story I tell generally encompasses the tragic loss of my husband to suicide, and it always concludes with God’s redemptive, healing power in my life.

God’s opened many doors for me to tell the story. Each time…I get stronger and stronger. Or do I? In this recent storytelling episode, I discovered something else about myself…I don’t like to cry anymore. I think I’ve simply grown weary of it. There were several times during the filming that I felt as if I were going to “lose it” emotionally speaking, but I would shove those tears right back to where they came from and press on. Interestingly, a little over a year ago, I counseled a friend against doing this very thing. Funny how we are asked to “practice what we preach” so often.

At one point during the shoot, I made the comment to my friend behind the camera, “You better stop, or you’ll make me cry.”

His response was not what I expected to hear, “Why are you afraid of your emotions?”

Who me? Afraid of my emotions? Blahahahaha! I’m a cry baby. I have no trouble crying. Or do I?

As a remarried widow, there are many people that feel as if I’m done grieving…that I know longer cry…that I’ve simply “moved on” and forgotten the husband that now lives in Heaven. Yes…I’ve moved on in some regards. I am happily remarried. I have a newly expanded family that I adore. I continue to live out my dreams, desires, and God’s plans for me to the best of my ability. But, I still grieve sometimes. I still occasionally ask the “why” question. I still wonder if I could have done something to prevent my husband’s suicide. And, no matter how hard I try not to sometimes, I still cry. And…you know what? That’s okay.

God did heal me. He did rescue and restore from a deep pit of grief. He has showered abundant mercy and grace upon me. But, He still asks me to be real. Emotionally real. He still wants to comfort me when I hurt…whether the hurt is from this past tragedy or a current pain…He’s still comforter. But, He also reminds me that not one of my tears goes unnoticed by Him. And so…when I feel the need to cry now…I let them pour. I think my friend was right…I was afraid of my emotions. I was afraid of “losing control”. But, God wants it all…even the tears. He wants all of me!

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book. ~Psalm 56:8 (MSG)

What Your Friend is Going Through

by Kit Hinkle

Most widows lose 75% of the friendships they had before their loss.

– source unknown

No one can tell me where this statistic comes from, but it seems to be out there, everywhere!  And when I first lost Tom, I thought, no way—after all, in that first year, there was so much attention on me that I wanted to hide under a rock—seemed like everyone wanted to help me in my grief.

But gradually, through the hard road of walking alone, a year, or years out, I started to see some of that rule coming true—ouch.

I wanted to talk to you about that feeling you get when you wonder where are people when you need them.

And I want you to smile and know several truths.  First, that this is normal. Second, that you can heal and forgive those who scatter. And third, that you can only heal and forgive when you can truly embrace your life as your own.

The dynamics of healthy friendships are not unlike the dynamics of healthy courtships. If you understand that healthy relationships come from wholeness, you’ll empower yourself to attract the right kind of friendships by being all whom God wants you to be first. I’ve noticed this first hand each time I’ve been in the position of walking alone without a significant other in my life. There is a pattern. First there’s this feeling of “gosh I wish I had someone,” and looking around for a bit, coming up empty, and feeling frustrated. As time would pass, I’d finally get comfortable and even appreciate my alone time.  And then—boom, there he showed up—the new significant other!

How does that happen? Well, it’s based on those three truths, just as friendships are based on the three truths. Until you can realize that it’s normal and okay to be a single woman, and embracing it makes you more available for a relationship, you may have to recognize that widowhood is a season where you will walk with less of a crowd around you because many of your girlfriends won’t be able to handle the neediness of your situation. Some will, and you celebrate those, but the goal is to get healthy so that you are welcoming the right kind of relationships to move forward. Once you actually feel good about where you are in life, you’ll start to find more women stepping up to benefit from your positive attitude.

I humbly suggest to you those three truths.  Consider them, and perhaps the Lord will use them to speak a new insight to you.

First, that this is normal

Try to remember that not everyone understands what you’re going through and knows how to handle it. Many don’t know what to say.

It’s really all part of accepting your struggle as a joy, a way to develop your perseverance.  It’s as James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). When you’re looking hard for friendship from a position of need, you’ll find a mixture of reactions from friends. You might find some old friends to help you in your needs and perhaps they can temporarily flex to be the one to prop you up. Sometimes this is good for a season. I know a widow who couldn’t get herself out of bed, and a friend came over daily and pulled her up and got her make up on for her.

But as you grow and move forward, you and your friend need to return to a more balanced friendship. Sometimes bringing someone into your life out of need attracts the wrong kinds of friendships. Friends that love to be the helper may not have the maturity to stick with you when you climb out of your grieving hole.

Second, that you can heal and forgive those who scatter.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

I had a dear friend once tell me a neat tip.  Don’t always assume people say or do things (or forget to say or do things) because they are rejecting you.  She said, “what I like to do is list three possible reasons they did what they did which have absolutely nothing to do with me and then I simply choose one of those and decide to believe it!”

“But what if you’re wrong?” I asked.  “What if it’s because they’re mad at you?”

She shrugged and said, “If I can’t think of what I’ve done to hurt her, and she won’t tell me, I can’t blame myself. Many times people are mad at me for unfounded reasons.  Many times it’s their own insecurities or shame that’s the root of their behavior, and they are just choosing to repin it on me. What good does it do for me to unearth all of that?”

Wow.  Think of the power in that!  Okay, so your friend didn’t call you in your time of need.  After searching yourself and owning up to your part, try some of these on for size—warning, some of these aren’t necessarily excusing her actions—some reflect shallowness on her part—that isn’t the point. We are all sinners, and we cannot control that even your friends are all sinners and may simply not be up for the job during this season:

  • She is going through something overwhelming in her life that she doesn’t want to burden you with.
  • She’s feeling so awful about what you’re going through and doesn’t have the emotional strength to walk with you through it—she’s terrified and can’t bear to delve into the depths with you. She feels awful about her weakness but nevertheless it is what it is, and she can’t bring herself to repair it and walk with you at the same time.  It’s just too much.
  • She doesn’t want you to see her cry.
  • She’s secretly feels a little to blame for your situation.
  • Your situation reminds her of a painful part of her past she hasn’t grappled with yet.
  • She is scared to death what happened to you could happen to her and seeing you makes her think about that–it’s just too scary.
  • She knows her strengths are in other areas and she’s not suited for the job of lifting you through this valley.
  • She’s perhaps not really about helping you. Until this tragedy happened, you provided something for her that she just isn’t able to get from your current situation. So she’s not going to invest.
  • She doesn’t know what to say or do around you.
  • She’s afraid everything she says and does will remind you of your loss.
  • She thinks you might be uncomfortable in the old circles of friends. So she’s assuming you’d rather not be invited.

Even if some of the reasons may not flatter your friend, the truth is, none of these have anything to do with anything you have said and done wrong.  That’s what’s helpful about deciding what might fit.  Naturally checking in with them helps, but there are times when a friend might be too uncomfortable in even discussing these with you.

Third, that you can only heal and forgive when you can truly embrace your life as your own.

It’s only in forgiving and embracing your life that you can heal and move forward.  I recall a very close friend of mine who seemed to want to be at my side more fervently than I felt comfortable with just after Tom died. She visited, called, brought dinners, included me on every social event she went to.  Because she was so wonderful, and I really needed a friend, I gratefully accepted her offers. I felt touched, but something in my soul didn’t feel right.  Every time she suggested that I let it all out and cry in front of her, I couldn’t. I felt pressured.  I can’t explain it—she was a lovely woman.  Perhaps it was because I knew her to be a social butterfly—a queen bee of sorts in the clique of ladies we hung with.  How many would know all the details of my tears?

As it turned out, my other friends told me later they felt rebuffed by her anytime they tried to come in close to help me. I felt like I was being claimed like her territory.  When a mutual friend invited my boys and I on a weekend in the mountains with her family, the queen bee friend became irate with me that I would go.

And when I made decisions, like getting a job or building a sun porch, she was angry that I didn’t check in with her.

Finally came an evening where my tears over Tom were spilling over and I needed a friend to count on—I didn’t call her. The friend who came over just held me as I cried like a baby.  The jealous friend found out and called me in tears—why wouldn’t I call her?

Ladies, remember something.  This is your widowhood—your ordeal. While you want to be considerate of others’  feelings, remember that nobody should be telling you whom to go to over your loss. The minute someone tries to flip it on you, they are out of line. It’s not their ordeal.

Needless to say, I eventually frustrated my friend enough that she lashed out at me and the friendship was over.  I was devastated.  She didn’t just talk to me calmly about her feelings and gradually pull away.  She completely wrote me out of her life.  There I was a year after losing my husband and now having to feel alone all over again. My soul wrenched between feeling relieved she was gone to feeling violated by her judgment, especially in light of her social status and feeling quite sure I was being gossiped about among other friends.

And guess what, ladies? I was wrong.

No, I wasn’t wrong about my assessment of this ill-suited friendship, but I handled the loss of it all wrong. I wrestled and cried over it, muttering to myself, “what the heck did I do to deserve this?” And do you know where the question got me?  Nowhere.  In fact, for several months, I found I wasn’t available for opening up new friendships because my hurt over this woman consumed me.

It wasn’t until I started to pray about it, and lovingly forgave her in my heart that I could be in the same room with her—visit with mutual friends, and not cringe at the mention of her name.

Today this woman and I write each other and occasionally meet for coffee.  Somehow, she’s more respectful of me than before, and our boundaries are at a better level.  Forgiveness works both ways, I suppose!

I went on for quite a while here, but please write and tell me if this helps you.  I think that when you’ve gone through such a loss you see life differently.  You’re not trying to make the perfect friend anymore.  You know to be open to loving people where they are, and accepting love how it comes.

Blessings.