When Things Aren’t What They Seemed

Secrets.

What do we do with hurtful information we find out about our late husbands?

Recently we received a private message from one of our readers about a very difficult subject. She had discovered some damaging information about her husband after his death. How should she handle this situation?

I had a similar discussion with a friend a while back. She had discovered some information about her late husband that was quite disturbing. It colored everything. Totally shocking.

Her children were young adults when their father passed away after a lengthy illness. The couple had fallen in love in college and had weathered the storms of church disappointments, addiction, job loss, raising children, and moving across country. But now that he was gone, one of her children shared some information about Dad. Her stomach felt sick thinking her husband could have been so horrible to their child, thinking about her child living with the secret pain for many years. She asked me what she should do.

Praying fervently in my heart before proceeding, I said,  “Lord, I don’t even know what to say. Guide my words, please.” 

As widows, what do we do with information about our husbands after they are gone? Mysterious credit card receipts. Suspicious or even pornographic websites on his computer. Surprise allegations he physically abused one of the grandchildren or other children. Could he have been involved in something illegal? Life insurance never purchased after years of pestering, and now bankruptcy? Some of our widows were separated from their husbands at the time of their sudden deaths. 

We can’t confront them now, so what do we do with the information?

Forgiving might be hardest when the recipient isn’t alive.

You have probably heard many quotes about forgiveness -like holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We are killing ourselves when we don’t extend forgiveness to someone.

If we look at Scripture, we can start with a well-known passage like the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.  Here in the Amplified Version, we find these words in verse 12.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.

In my experience, I have more joy in my life when I release the other person from the debt I have placed on them. The past is the past, and we can’t change what happened. We can change how we go forward from this point. We are all sinners. And extending the same forgiveness to a spouse, even after his death, opens up the pathway for God’s forgiveness toward us. (Colossians 3:13)

And since RELEASE is my word for 2017, I keep my eyes open for ways to use it in every situation.

Is there a debt you are carrying that needs to be released? Let’s not wait another day to release someone from the chains of unforgiveness. It ISN’T easy – sometimes we need to meet with a trained counselor, pastor, or even an attorney. But it IS possible.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Matthew 6 :11-12 ESV

When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins. Mark 11:25 NCV

Forgiveness isn’t something we do for someone else, especially when they aren’t around any more. Forgiveness is something we do for OURSELVES.

Father God, help us be quick to forgive. Release us from the bondage of grudges and unforgiveness. Thank You for Your example of forgiveness in our lives. Help us to be aware of Your Holy Spirit moving in our hearts to forgive someone. Amen


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

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 admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

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

Here’s another article from Kit and a guest blogger about betrayal and forgiveness. 

 

 

 

 

A Different Perspective: What if My Husband Wasn’t All that and More?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Can I be honest with you? I mean, really honest?

Sometimes I read the posts and comments from my widow sisters on the blog, and I just feel out of place.

So many of you had amazing husbands who were Godly men—the spiritual leaders of your home and wonderful fathers.

That wasn’t my husband.

A Different Perspective

John professed a faith in Christ, but he rarely cracked open his Bible and never attended church with us. He was not the spiritual leader I craved. He wasn’t a very involved dad either. Often he chose watching a game on TV, going out with friends, or even just taking a nap over spending time on a family activity.

He wasn’t a bad person, and he was doing the best he could. His own father walked out on the family when John was a little boy. He grew up with a terrible and abusive step-father. He wasn’t taken to church or taught the importance of a faith community. He just didn’t have positive male role models in his life to teach him how to be a father and husband.

So when I read about your wonderful husbands, I feel a longing to have the type of memories you do. I find myself wishing we would have had more time for John to grow and change into the man I hoped he would become.

I’m not the only one, right? It feels like it sometimes though. Surely there are others of you who know how I feel. I can’t be the only one with a less than perfect husband and marriage. As widows we can be reluctant to speak of anything less than the good about our late husbands. It just doesn’t feel right to say something negative about a man who isn’t here to defend himself.

So we keep our mouths shut. We stuff our feelings inside. We retreat from community because we don’t feel like anyone can relate to us. But in doing so, we isolate ourselves. Isolation is the enemy’s favorite weapon against us.

As we near Father’s Day, this feeling of being alone, of being the only one with a less than ideal situation grows. There is so much talk this time of year about all the wonderful things that Dad does. Widows with children look for ways to celebrate the father their husband was. There are lots of great ideas, but none seem to fit our own situation.

So what do we do?

First know you are not alone. Not every widow is mourning the loss of an amazing husband and father. That doesn’t make your grief any less. You may have craved a stronger marriage, a Godly husband but you still miss and mourn the man he was. And, like me, you likely grieve for what could have been. The enemy would have you believe that no one else is feeling the same but you can rest assured that at least this widow is in the same boat with you.

Next, focus on the positive. Philippians 4:8 comes to mind. It states “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” In our humanness, it is easy to focus on what we would have changed in our husbands. But our whole attitude can change when we choose to focus on what he did right….even if it’s only one thing.

My children are still young and we talk about Dad a lot. I want them to have a positive but realistic image of their father. We talk honestly about the things that we would like to have been different, but we talk even more about the things that were good.

“Sure, Dad didn’t do a lot of the fun activities with us, but he worked really hard, and some crazy hours to provide for us.”

“No, Dad didn’t go to church with us but he never complained about our decision to go, even when it meant not spending time with him.”

We are honest and realistic about who he was, but still honor the good, the lovely and the praiseworthy.

And my last piece of advice is to be honest with others about the shortcomings in your marriage and your husband. Pretending things were different doesn’t help. Avoiding the community of other widows hurts your healing journey. I have found that since I took the steps to be more open about the shortcoming of my late husband, other widows have been more open about sharing things that could have been better in their marriages. They share how the men I thought were perfect husbands and fathers also had areas of weakness. As others talked honestly, I felt less alone.

So, as we near the day for celebrating the men in our lives, let’s be honest about the men our husbands were…both for the good and the not so good.

Heavenly Father,

I pray for myself and all my widow sisters as we approach a day all about celebrating someone who is no longer with us. It can be such a hard day for so many reasons. I pray, Father, that for those of us who had less than ideal situations, you would bring good memories to mind. I ask that you would allow us to focus on the good, right and noble in our late husbands. But I also ask that you help us to be honest with each other about the shortcomings. Thank you for bringing us all together and giving us the chance to draw comfort and peace from others in similar situations.

Amen

No More Shame

by Leah Stirewalt

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus since my husband’s suicidal death…a public speaking hiatus, that is. I have no problem sharing the story of how God miraculously healed me following Chris’ death, however I haven’t really pushed to do so either. I waited on Him to open that door when He felt I was ready.

It just so happened…He opened the door last week, when I had the opportunity to share at a women’s event with a group of nearly 2000 women. I was so nervous, because honestly…I was afraid I would lose composure and start sobbing on stage. But God…God allowed the tears to form but not simply take over. His peace literally surrounded me like a cloud the moment I stepped on the stage. I knew His Presence was abundantly there that evening.

However, what I wasn’t prepared for was what came later in the evening. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with several women and had the wonderful privilege of hearing their stories. Consistent stories of tragedy resulting from a loved one’s suicide. My eyes welled up with tears again, as I saw the pain – although redemptive in many of them – cross over their faces yet again. It was the tears…the pain…the stories that surprised me. It was the fact that most have very seldom spoken of their pain because of the shame they’ve been carrying.

I know that feeling…all too well. I just wasn’t prepared to see so many other precious women experiencing that type of guilt and shame as well.

After my husband’s death, I also experienced a temporary season of shame. While suicide can easily usher in unwanted and unmerited shame, I’ve also learned that shame all-too-often accompanies any type of death of a spouse. But why?

Far too often, we feel we should have done something. If I had only done this or that…if I had only taken him to the hospital sooner…if only I had listened better when he shared his burdens about work…if only I had told him I loved him one last time. On and on the “if onlys” go. On and on the “what ifs” and the “shoulda couldas” continue.

I honestly had to learn, the hard way, that shame will take me nowhere except deeper into my pit of grief. As a believer, I also have to trust in the truths from God’s word. Romans 8:1-2 promises us… “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

I truly believe the enemy throws the dart of shame our way to try to render us useless for kingdom work. And what better time than when we’re already lower than low while grieving. However…God has another plan. Are we willing to trust Him with it?

His plan is to heal!

His plan is to rescue!

His plan is to deliver!

His plan is to restore!

His plan is to provide divine peace!

His plan is to strengthen!

His plan is to comfort so that we can comfort others!

His plan is to redeem our pain!

Friends – we have so many other women that will come behind us seeking refuge, seeking peace, seeking restoration, seeking hope. God wants to use you! Will you let Him? Tell the enemy to back off…cling to the promises in God’s Word…and watch God heal you beyond belief. While it may not look like it’s ever going to come, just trust Him. He’s reaching for YOU. He wants to rescue YOU. And, he promises to restore YOU.

Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. ~John 16:22

Grandpa’s Hand

by Gail Sanseverino

My husband died of bladder cancer in 2008. The day my husband went Home to be with Jesus, my grown daughters and I mixed a box of cement in the hospital room, poured it in a mold, and made an eternal impression of their dad’s big hand.  The cement then got decorated with glitter and shiny colored rocks which drew the attention of my grandchildren when they’d enter the living room every time they’d visit me.  It became part of some new but temporary traditions that commenced shortly after my husband’s departure Home.

When the grandchildren came to my house, they almost immediately asked me if they can put their hand in Grandpa’s hand.  We’d carefully bring the cement block down to the floor.  One at a time the children would put their hand inside the impression for several minutes to reminisce and share their favorite Grandma moments.  Each one would take their time gently placing their hand in the mold with an unspoken, untaught reverence.  It was a bittersweet ritual, one that would usually brought on a bucket full of tears.

When this activity was exhausted, the children would immediately grab boxes of family photos.  It was difficult looking at his pictures early in my own grief.  In fact, it actually became more painful for awhile, as time marched on.  In the beginning, it was the most recent pictures that broke my heart.  Several months later it was the pictures of him as a young man and pictures that reminded me of our blissful carefree days together that became most painful.  But as painful as it was to look at them, I just couldn’t put them down.  I looked at his pictures almost every day, weeping endlessly as my heart ached to have another moment with my beautiful man.

When the children got the pictures out, we would spread them out on the floor or all over my lap while we all snuggled together in “Grandma’s big chair”.  We would talk about the memories that each picture reminded us of and the children would ask questions about their Grandpa’s youth when they rustled through photos from before their time.  We would laugh together, talk about him, and cry millions of tears together.

My grown daughters were never interested in joining our sobby sessions of reminiscing.  In fact, sometimes they’d even leave the room!  But on one such occasion, my youngest daughter revealed the thoughts that she’d been hiding during all the other photo rituals.  She asked me, “Why on earth do you do this to yourself, Mom, look at those pictures and make yourself sad?  It doesn’t make any sense?  Why do you want to sit here and cry an endless pit of tears making yourself sad?”

‘Ah, a teaching moment!  I love those.’, I thought to myself.  “Shelly”, I answered,  “looking at your Dad’s photos does not make me sad.  I’m already sad.  I miss your Dad and I’m sad every day that he’s not in my life anymore.  But I know your Dad and our God do not want me to be sad for the rest of my life.  The way I see it, I have to keep looking at these pictures, I have to cry over every one of them because I am sad.  Rustling through these photos helps me release my sorrow.  And here’s the plan–I’m going to keep looking at them every day until I no longer cry.  I will know that God has healed me of my sorrow and returned my joy when I can look at these photos, smile, laugh and treasure the sweet memories of each of them.”

It has been two years since my sweet, beautiful man went Home to be with the Lord.  We don’t get the pictures out as often when the grandchildren come and the cement block with Grandpa’s hand could probably use a sweep-over with a feather duster by now.  Is this a sign of disrespect?  I don’t think so.  It’s a sign, an indicator, that life moves on and we’ve allowed God’s grace to move us on too.  My husband is experiencing more joy and life than he ever could have while he was here on earth.  My heart fills with joy for him when I ponder and picture that.  And I know that if he could tell me one thing right now, he’d echo God’s heart for me to live life to the fullest while God still has me here on this side of Heaven.  I can honestly say that on this side of my grief journey, a side where smiles and giggles replace weeping and tears, that I know more joy in the Lord now than I have ever known before.  God does bring joy in the mourning and I praise Him for His wondrous ways!