My cell phone rang one afternoon. I glanced at the caller ID and saw it was one of my “widow sisters”.
Our “small talk” was cut short when she jumped right into the reason for her calling. She felt awful because of a friendship that has been wounded.
Remember all the times you have struggled with losing friendships after the loss of your husband?
“Why would she avoid me like this?”
“What did I do to make them not want to include me anymore?”
“She never even called me after my greatest loss!”
We have written several articles about these situations because the loss of friendships after the loss of our husbands is like a double-whammy. We needed these friends, and they weren’t there for us.
My friend was in tears because she realized she was ONE of those friends this time. A high- profile death occurred in her city, and she wasn’t in the closest circle of friends. The husband passed away suddenly, and my friend was advised to “lay low” for a while, but was in constant prayer for the family. The families had such an interesting relationship over about twenty years. Picture frames held glimpses of outrageously fun trips with her children. Always her prayer list included members of this family.
Now, many months after the man’s death, an email showed up in my friend’s mail.
“Where have you been?”
“Of all people, you should have been here.”
Like a knife, it stuck in her heart.
The shoe was on HER foot this time. She was ONE of those friends. My friend is so thoughtful and a true prayer-warrior. She never would be like this. But she listened to advice that now had come back to hurt them both. She remembered those friends who stepped out of the picture when her own husband died as a young father. She remembered the empty feeling of not having a close connection during the most painful time as a young solo parent. And now the pain of knowing she had done the same thing unintentionally was devastating.
As I listened, one word came to my mind.
But he said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for YOU, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
Sometimes we have to give ourselves grace, not to mention others.
Sometimes we have to embrace our failures so Christ is able to shine through. Just like the pieces of a stained glass window are most beautiful when the sun shines through, we are most beautiful when we let Christ show through our weaknesses. The people who see this will know for sure it is God and not our own strength.
My advice to my beautiful friend was to do what she had already been led by God to do: contact her immediately and apologize. She needed to let this friend know she had never ceased praying for her and her family. Not sure of the new widow’s spiritual standing, my friend never intended to be a stumbling block to her faith journey.
Guilt over mistakes and weaknesses is not from God.
But allowing Christ to shine through our cracks and broken pieces is often when others see Him the brightest.
Have you been unintentionally aloof to another new widow, just waiting for the “right time” to say something but never seeing a chance? Have you not reached out to another friend when you should have? We all are guilty of things in friendships that hurt others. But I find it so easy to point out the people in my life who have not been the friend I needed. This call from my friend was a reminder to me to evaluate MY part in friendships.
Lord Jesus, thank You for opportunities to share the comfort You have given us through our deepest valley and darkest days. Give us chances each day to shine Your light so others can see it in our weaknesses. Friends are a gift so help us appreciate the friends we have while looking for ways we can be a better friend to others. Amen
Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver! Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to get information about our speakers.
Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here.
Here’s a great article about friendships from Erika.
Another great article from Kit.