Golly Gee!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

Golly gee, can people just remember to say one standard line to a widow like, “This is hard. I’m here if you need me.”

And can we widows try to remember how hard it is to say the right thing? Maybe even coach people on what to say to a grieving widow.

With ten years since my loss, I look back with a lighter heart at the ways people fumbled, bumbled and stumbled over just what to say to a widow.

Here is my “Golly Gee, they didn’t just say that!” list of the botched approaches:

Good grief approach –
“You poor thing. Bless your heart! Let me take care of you!”

I’m not a poor thing. Give me some credit for not going over the cliff right now.

OMG approach –
“Oh my gosh! That’s so awful! I couldn’t handle that! You must be so strong!”

I gulped and thought, Guess what, sister, we don’t get a choice on what we have to handle, so excuse me for not accepting that compliment. How about God chooses you to be strong instead of me?

Lucky dog approach –
“Wow you’re so lucky. I’d far rather have the insurance payout than my husband sticking around.”

No kidding, this happened! I found myself quietly shunning the woman. I now regret that. She could have used a friend to help her see the good in her married life. She finally left her husband and has regretted her lonely walk ever since.

Lazy husband approach –
“I know exactly how you feel. My husband doesn’t lift a finger at home.”

I reacted, “at least you get to wake up next to the lazy jerk every morning!” Needless to say, the blunt retort didn’t do much to encourage this woman.

You’re young approach –
“don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll find somebody.”

I said nothing and fumed over the comment until I realized she only wanted to encourage and meant absolutely nothing ill by it, just needed a little coaching on what to say.

Get on with it approach –
“Get to work. Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

I felt guilty for spinning my wheels in that first year and recalled the conversation every time we bumped into each other. What a mistake! She didn’t even remember it because what she really meant was she felt compassion for me.

Evading approach –
“ “

The person simply stays away. My reaction ranged from not registering their disappearance to being deeply hurt. I now know I wasted too much emotion here. Many AWOL friends either didn’t want to crowd me or had their own emotional issues about death.

Endlessly dedicated approach—
“There’s got to be something I can do. Anything. Just give me a task, now. You don’t have anything? Well, let me follow you around until I figure out a task.”

My reaction to this type of friend was to begin accommodating her need to help. It was sweet at first but soon became a burden for me as I ran out of things to give her and found her “help” to be an albatross around my neck.

Reacting offensively to an offense does nothing to repair the damage. And if you can learn to see the person through the eyes of Christ, you can have grace and respond to them gently as in Proverbs 15:1.

I now try to understand the heart behind the person’s comment and thank people for trying to help. If I’m ever in that place again, I’ll just let people know that it’s okay to just sit quietly with me or say a simple “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Because the truth is, we all can use grace with one another.

Golly gee, Lord,
I’ve learned something here—I will never judge another for trying to say the right thing because God knows I’ve missed the mark many times! I only pray that my lesson can be learned from someone going through these very conversations today. Amen

 


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

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

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Perhaps

Yes! I  Still Cry

Dating a Widow

Rejection- Take Mom’s Advice

 

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Matthew 5:44 ESV

One of my children got a birthday card in the mail.

Why did that bother me so much? I mulled over the nagging pain in my heart until I decided what it was–REJECTION.

I never get a card from a particular relative on my birthday. All of my kids get cards, and I am skipped.

So that was it. Rejection. I had named it.

Now I could deal with it. I started with what “mother said”–one of her sayings I hated while growing up, mostly because she was right.

My mother often said, “It isn’t the action; it’s the reaction.” In other words, I can’t control what someone else does – only what I do or don’t do. That is completely up to me.

Mother’s words still play in my head today. I even say them to my own children when they fuss with each other.

On this day, I dug deeper into this newly uncovered emotion of rejection.

Verses came fast and furious to my mind.

Isaiah 53:3 ESV He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

So Jesus knew rejection. Okay, got it. He understands. So what?

Matthew 5:44 ESV But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Well, it isn’t persecution like prison camp but I think the principle to pray for them might still apply.

2 Corinthians 1:5-6   1 Peter 2 :4-5 

Philippians 2:5 NIV   In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Romans 8:17 NIV …we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

So what do I do with this rejection I feel from family members? I have decided to accept it as sharing in the suffering of Christ. This rejection is allowing me to share more in His glory. It draws me closer to Christ as I am reminded of what He endured for me.

He was rejected by His closest disciples in His most desperate time of need.

His brothers turned their backs until after the resurrection, when James became an integral part of the early church.

Since my husband passed away, some family members have not been involved with me and the kids to the extent that I hoped. (It’s those “great expectations” that get me into trouble every time.) And I miss it. I want to be over and done with these feelings of rejection. Honestly, it allows people to have control over me that I don’t appreciate their having. It is like they have a chain around my heart and can tug it whenever. I am breaking that chain today. I declare myself “chain free”!

Do you need to break the chains binding you to a feeling that someone’s words or actions have over you?

  • Dig into Scripture
  • How did Christ deal with the feeling?
  • How should I deal with it?

Often others don’t even intend on inflicting hurt on you. They are dealing with their own grief in a way that may not be healthy, or they may need help you can’t give. But you can PRAY.

Father in Heaven, thank You for knowing the emotions we deal with. Your Son felt rejection from those closest to Him. Help me break the emotional chains trapping me today from other people’s actions that I cannot control. I lay those at Your feet. Amen


 

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Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

Another article about loving and forgiving our inlaws by Kit.

Here’s a great one by Leah about hurting people who hurt people.

Blended and Bonded

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) 

I often write about raising my four boys without their father.

Sometimes their episodes of grief shake me to the core, and I wonder how I’ll parent them through it, only to find I don’t need to know how—God walks me through the “how” every time.

Sometimes I want to hug every young widowed mother struggling to see hope in her children’s lives, and remind her of the power in letting God set her vision for her children’s future.

I write a lot about my boys because they are my purpose for now. I’m it for them—no other parent except their Heavenly Father. It’s up to me and Him to show them who their real Father is—God.

Occasionally I’ll write about my two children from Tom’s first marriage. Raising them in our home was one of the biggest honors in my life.

What a different grief journey it has been as their stepmother. These two live in other states, and emotional separations that often come with blended families add to our spotty connections.

As a grieving, healing mother of a passel of boys, I chose to hone in on the ones still there in my home while waiting for my older stepson and stepdaughter to heal over unresolved loyalties that often happen with children who endure their parents’ divorce.

This week, as I write, that healing is happening.

Tom’s six children reunited for the first time since they were small.

My older daughter (I recently decided to drop the step reference—after all, as children who grew up in my home, they are considered whole parts, not just step parts, of our family) asked me to bring us all together. This was a huge breakthrough for her, as she had been on an emotional roller coaster of love for me and anger over her losses.

You are not going to believe how that came about. Had you spoken with me years ago you would have found me wondering if we could ever restore any connection between our once-blended family. We didn’t have to.  God did it.  Unable to find answers for her anger and pain, she finally turned to a local church and began her walk with Christ.

And one place He led her was to bring back the family of her youth.

Now today we gather in a cute cabin on the teeny little resort island of Put-in-Bay in the middle of Lake Erie.

Can you imagine the joy this brings me? To see Tom’s six kids reunited?  God redeems everything, if you let Him.

I watch them frolic—like Tom did.  They are so alike! My grown son from Tom’s first marriage looks exactly like Tom, and very much like my youngest.  He and my college-aged son share their father’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for software development.  They spent an evening collaborating on ideas for their next projects.

We gathered at an island resort restaurant, watching their Cleveland team in the playoffs—my daughter laughing with my middle two sons.  She has their same lips—the full round lips of their father.  She also has their free spirit—that relaxed nature and quick wit.

With God’s love, blended families can keep blending, even when unexpected loss had once separated.  Healing does happen.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 not to allow the grudges between brothers go unresolved while you go offer gifts at His alter. Sometimes you go about life handling just what’s on your plate because it’s all you can do.  For years, I lived out my purpose in raising my four boys obediently, knowing that there were two more children who needed to be reconciled to these brothers.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing our family full circle, and together.  May You bring that joy and connection to the young widowed mother reading this and to her children, whether just her own or from blended situations.  And may your love grow in my own six children and spread to my older children’s mother as she and her two children draw closer to each other and to You.  Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

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

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Child Whisperer

Triggers (Part Two)

He Calls Me His Own (an article about step-parenting and grief)

The Ornament Without a Hook

…falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:60 (ESV)

As we hung our ornaments on the tree, I studied one of my favorites, a figurine of baby Jesus marked with the shadow of a cross. That ornament always reminds me that even from infancy, Jesus was marked to become a sacrificial lamb.

I chose a dignified position on the tree for my treasure and discovered the hook on the top of this ornament had fallen off. I scrambled through the box and rummaged through my garage for hooks or wires. Finally I laid the ornament on the table.

As the other ornaments one-by-one found their places on the tree, I almost imagined that piece feeling lost and uncertain on the table.

Tom had some of those “ornaments” in his life. People who loved him dearly and had their own stories with him. Each story was a kind of a hook to him.  Sometimes the “hook” that kept them connected with him involved an unresolved problem that caused him struggles with them. Struggles he willingly endured because he loved them, encouraged them, and hoped that time would bring healing between them.

But time wasn’t given.

In the wake of his death, these precious loved ones had double the scars—the loss of Tom and the loss of any opportunity for closure other than in their hearts.  Tom was no longer available to work through whatever needed to be worked through.

And for a while, it seemed  whatever couldn’t be worked out with him was taken up with me. Sometimes the widow becomes the physical representation of the loss, and therefore, a target.

ornament

Are you struggling with misplaced hostilities during the holidays? It’s not easy when you are already struggling to get through the season with grief.  How do you handle it?

I’ve asked this question before while frustrated, and heard the Lord speak His answer in my heart loudly and clearly:

Forgive.

But this season is difficult enough to handle while grieving!

Again–same answer:  Forgive.

But they do it again! Must I be subjected to offense over and over?

Jesus tells us to forgive your brother seventy times seven times.  He forgave his attackers as He was dying on the cross. And if you think He gave Himself as He spoke forgiving words only as an ideal example, think again. Stephen, in the early church, was as human as you or I. And as he was being stoned to death, his last words held compassion for his attackers.  “…falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:6 ESV).

Ask the loved ones around you to remember the tough walk you are on during this season.  Then take extra compassion and care when it comes to dealing with their behaviors.

Forgive and maintain healthy boundaries with those who no longer have your husband to hook their troubles on. Tune in next week when I’ll offer suggestions for setting boundaries and keeping these relations in your life without letting them turn into “grinches” who steal your Christmas.

Lord Father, please remind my dear sisters on this widow journey that when You say Peace to All Men– you meant to all widows as well.  Give her Your love and confidence so that she can identify where to set boundaries and how to be understanding of the grief in those around her who may not be on their best behaviors.  Amen.

Kit 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. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  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 Christmas or Friendship?  Here are some articles you might try:

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective by Kit Hinkle

Friendships by Erica Graham

A New Year…Another Try

“I know you well; you aren’t strong, but you have tried to obey and have not denied my Name. Therefore I have opened a door to you that no one can shut.” – Revelation 3:8 TLB

Two days before Christmas, I got a call from my husband’s aunt. I hadn’t talked to her in about four years. I saw her name on my phone screen and my heart started pounding. She only calls with bad news.

It was bad news. Keith’s mom is declining. Memory issues and feeling like she has nothing to live for have taken a toll. She is down to 80 pounds and has no interest in eating.

My sons and I need to go see her…even though she may not know us.

And we know it is going to be hard…on several levels.

I am not sure what it is like with your in-laws, sisters, but I don’t have the same relationship with them that I did when Keith was alive. Maybe it is because he took the lead, talking to his parents on the phone, finding out what they needed and how they were. Maybe it’s because seeing me brings back the pain of yet another loss (Keith’s sister had passed away ten years earlier, and his dad four years after that). Maybe it’s because we need that sinew of connectivity between us that Keith provided. Maybe it’s simply because I am an overworked single mom of four boys, trying to make it through each day.

Regardless, I mourn what I once had with them.

Once upon a time, I felt like a daughter in Keith’s family. But over time, things changed. Keith’s dad died, and the strain of that additional death (she lost both her parents shortly after her daughter) changed my mother-in-law. Hard times.

Then Keith became ill. I did the best I could to manage the illness, including his family when possible, but they had different expectations of how things would go and were not local. And at a time when we should have been focusing on Keith and what he needed, there was some stress between us.

Today, even though the apologies have been made, those words still sit there. I think we have all forgiven each other. I know I have spoken often with the Lord on the matter, and feel at peace that I have cleared the negative junk out of my own heart. I pray the rest of the family has done the same.

Yet, the damage was done. The rift is there and I am not sure how to mend it.

But God does.

He has been here before, walked with others on this path:

  • He was there to guide Jacob in mending the rift with Esau (see Genesis 32-33)
  • He brought Miriam and Aaron back into faith with their brother Moses (see Numbers 12)
  • He showed Paul how to accept Mark after conflict (see Acts 13 and 15 and 2 Timothy 4)

As I proceed through 2015, I am praying for His guidance and wisdom on how to include Keith’s family in our lives, how to mend that rift and move forward. I am not sure how it will all turn out, but I hold to the promise of the verse above…God will make a way for healing, and no one can change that. He knows my heart on this.

Making these decisions is not easy, sisters. But, with God’s good guidance, it is possible. I pray we can all turn to Him as we seek to deal with imperfect people as we ourselves are imperfect people…especially in our families.

Father, I know I am not perfect in the way that I deal with my husband’s family. I know I have sinned and fallen short. We all do. It is our nature. Please help me to forgive where I should and help me to have the strength to go forward with them, loving them as he loved them, warts and all. Help them to do the same for me and my children. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Clothe Yourselves

Please join our guest blogger, Sheryl Pepple, today as she continues the discussion of dealing with the people in our lives who don’t “get” where we are, who we are in this widow walk.  Drink it in, sisters.  You will be blessed!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  -Colossians 3:12-14

I have had so many of those moments in the last five months.   You know those moments, when you just get so irritated with people.  You can’t believe what they said or didn’t say.  You can’t believe what they did or didn’t do.  You want to scream…don’t you understand how much pain I’m in????  One of the many things that God has spoken to me through my minister was the answer to that very question…no they don’t get it and they are not supposed to. 

Fortunately, probably most of the people we know or come in contact with have not experienced the depth of pain that we go through when we lose our spouse.   But then, most have also never experienced the depth of God’s love, compassion, and provision that we are experiencing, either. 

It is so important that we give ourselves grace during this time.  There are days, weeks, months, when we walk around in a fog.  There are many, many times when we are irritable, and every day we struggle to deal with our loss.  But more important than giving ourselves grace, it is powerful to remember that God has given us grace.  Grace when we didn’t deserve it.  Grace that covers absolutely everything we could possibly think, say or do.  Grace because He loves us more than we can begin to comprehend.  I am so grateful that none of the things I have thought or said these last few months stand between me and my God, whom I so desperately need.  His Son has already paid for ever one of our sins on the Cross and we can call out to our God with confidence.  Our sin is as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12).

It is because of His Grace that the Holy Spirit lives in us once we believe.  And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  It is why when someone does or says the wrong thing, we are, if we choose, able to respond with kindness and extend grace to them.  It isn’t always our natural response, but through Him it is possible.  And each time we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, we have the privilege of letting others see Christ living in us!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You so much for loving us and covering us with Your grace!  Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son who died on the Cross for us.  Thank You for the Holy Spirit who guides us and comforts us!  Please help us to remember every day the gift of Your grace and help us to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Father let others see You living in us that You may be glorified!   Amen

Toughest Decisions

Who would become your children’s guardians if you, too, were to pass?

This is often an extremely painful decision to make, yet one that cannot be put off.

Today, follow along with our guest blogger as she shares some of her story regarding making…and remaking…this very important decision.

~Liz at AWM

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

– Psalm 46:1

When Steve was alive, we knew just who we wanted to raise our kids, should something happen to us.  While my sister Sarah was not (and is not even today) a Christian, we felt that she would love them the most, and would definitely do the best she could for them.  His sweet cousin, Jane, and her husband, Paul, were our second choice.  They were ten years older than we were, but they loved our kids, had raised their own…and love the Lord.

What a relief it was to have the matter settled.

But time and circumstances have changed.

Steve passed away, and our children are minors.  I have had tough decisions to make.

I prayed and prayed, agonizing over whether I could change this super-important decision that we made together.  Initially, I kept things at status quo, leaving the guardianship issue the same in my will after he died as we had planned.  I truly wasn’t ready to make that change early on, especially since it was the first big decision I would make alone.  When Steve was ill, we talked about financial matters, so I had his “take” on what to do there, but we did not touch the issue of guardianship.  It was too painful, too close to home.  We were just starting to get an inkling that he might not be getting better.  We were not ready to discuss what might happen to me as well.

But in the ensuing years, I have realized that the most important stewardship I have in my life is that of the souls of my children.  God, in His infinite wisdom, has made me their mom.  I often feel absolutely unqualified for this trust which He has placed on me, but that doesn’t make it any less of a responsibility.  And, because I have this responsibility, it is my duty to do all that I can to make sure that they are raised in the ways of the Lord.  That means constant contact with Him on issues of their upbringing…including what would happen to them if something were to happen to me.  I owe it to the Lord and to my kids to make the best decision I can regarding their care and estate. 

So, after continued prayerful consideration, my will has changed.  Should I pass while my children are minors, Jane and Paul would become their “parents.” 

I feel good about my decision, peaceful even.  I feel I am the steward of my children the way the Lord wants me to be.  But that doesn’t mean it has been easy.

I love my sister, don’t get me wrong.  I just don’t think she is the best choice for raising my children to be the people of God that we always dreamed they would be.  Oh, she would try, in her way.  She would shower them with the material things in life, try to compensate for their losses—and hers.  I have done some of that with them myself—sometimes it is hard not to.

But showering kids with gifts is not why Steve and I wanted to have children, and not why we prayed for them each and every day of their lives, and not why I continue to pray for them.  I want them to grow up to become strong witnesses for the power and might of our Lord.  I want them to raise families who will also be close to the Lord, lead the next generation back to a close relationship with God in this deteriorating culture.  I want them to have the tools to stand firm for the Lord while the rest of the world is crumbling around them.  My goals for them are much bigger than loving them and spoiling them.  Building my children’s faiths has become the crux of my purpose here on earth, my first and best ministry.

And that is not the way my sister would look at it.  Her worldview is just too different.

Being older makes Jane and Paul not a perfect situation. 

But their home offers a Christ—beyond that, little else matters.

Of course, my prayer is that I will never need to call on them…but I have done my duty to my kids, to Steve, and to my God.  I don’t know what Sarah will think of the decision, and I am now prayerfully considering when…if…to tell her.  It may not be worth the strife on earth to discuss this possibility. I pray will not become a reality.

I wish this decision were unnecessary… that Steve was still here, and that Sarah could be the one I entrusted with my children.  But, the decision is made, and I can imagine Steve being happy with this decision.

Wherever you are in this process, dear sisters, trust fully in God to lead you to the correct decision.  He led me, and He will lead you as well.  Whether those living would be pleased with your decision is immaterial, as long as it is pleasing to God.  It is too important to put off, hard as it is. 

Father, give me…give us…the strength to make the tough decisions in life without our husbands.  Help us to trust fully in You and Your sovereignty and wisdom, regardless of the views of those around us.  It is so hard some days, Lord, to make these decisions without our earthly best friends and confidants.  Help us to see You in this light and to lean on You through all we face, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.


Misunderstood

“Before a word is on my tongue: you, Lord, know it completely.”

Psalm 139:4

by Rene Zonner

Some days I feel like beating my head against a wall.

Friends and family just don’t get what I’m trying to say.

It feels like I’m speaking a foreign language.

I am.  It’s called Widowhood.

Since becoming a citizen of the state of widowhood, I have learned that those who aren’t on this journey with me often misunderstand my words and actions.  Most of the time they are trying to understand.  Friends and family do their best to decipher what I’m saying.  Unless however, they also speak widow, they just won’t get it.

Losing a spouse has changed my perspective on everything.  What I say, what I do, what I think…it’s all filtered through grief now.  Material possessions mean so much less than they ever did before because I had to sort through every piece of my husband’s belongings.  It drove the point home that we take nothing with us when we leave this life.  My husband died when I was not at home, and unreachable, so now I carry my cellphone with me everywhere I go and feel anxiety if I can’t be contacted by loved ones.  I am much more vocal in sharing my thoughts and opinions because the reality that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow is in my face all the time.

Sure, others have suffered loss too, and life is now filtered through grief for them.  But the loss of a friend, the loss of a parent, of a child is not the same as the loss of a spouse.  I’m not saying my grief is worse or more important…just different.  I’ve suffered a terrible loss in my life, but I would still struggle to understand what it would be like for the person who lost a child.

Even other widows sometimes misunderstand me.  See, in the language of widowhood there are lots of dialects.  There are widows who lost husbands suddenly like me, but then there are those who had to suffer through a long illness.  Those who lost husbands early in their life together and those who had more time.  Widows who were left financially secure and those who are struggling.  We can never truly understand another’s language, and they can never truly understand ours.

So, I find myself asking…is there anyone who gets me?

Thankfully, the answer is yes!

We are told in the Bible that God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He gets it.  He understands why I say, do and think the things I do.  I don’t have to explain myself to Him.  He created me, He knit me in my mother’s womb.  He knows the number of hairs on my head.  I can just rest in his intimate knowledge of me.  In His arms I am no longer misunderstood and I am not merely understood…I am known.

Misunderstood

Recently my husband’s family took offense to something I said about him and about our life together.  They were hurt by my words, and that truly pains me.  Because they are listening from the perspective of someone who lost a child, a brother, a cousin, they can’t understand the words I spoke as someone who lost her spouse.  I know that, but it still hurt terribly when they lashed out at me in anger.  My motives were being questioned, the love I had for my husband doubted and even my faith scrutinized.  I found myself extremely discouraged because I was so misunderstood.  I cried out to God begging for someone to know my heart.

God answered.  He soothed my heart and reminded me that ultimately the only person who needs to understand me is Him.  I allowed the Holy Spirit to examine my heart and my motives and in doing so found peace.  I allowed the words of the Psalm 139 to soothe me and comfort me.  He knew just what words I needed to hear because He created me.

Friends, if it hasn’t happened already, there is going to be a time when you are misunderstood.  Your heart may be called into question.  It will be tempting to try and explain yourself or justify your actions to others.  You may be hurt and tempted to speak harshly to those who aren’t walking your walk.  But when that occurs, I encourage you to go first to God.  Ask Him to examine your heart and if you have peace with your words or actions, then find your comfort in being known by the God of the universe.  Once that knowledge truly sinks in, it becomes so much easier to respond in love to those who may criticize.

Father, I thank you for the knowledge that you understand me in ways that no one else ever can.  There will be people in my life who won’t get why I say or do the things I do.  There will be times when I feel so misunderstood.  Remind me that you know me so intimately because you created me.  Lord, give me patience with those who are not walking my walk and may misunderstand me.  Holy Spirit reveal to me times when I may need to soften my words and those times when I need to stay true to what I believe.  Thank you again precious Lord for being my rock and my salvation.

Amen