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Caring What Others Think

Losing your husband and everything that comes with that loss is horrific enough, but when others pass judgment on our lives and decisions it can be extremely difficult. As human beings, it’s tough to ignore what others think of us because no matter how much we say we don’t, we care.

Because my husband died of Depression and suicide, the judgment began immediately. No one understood that it was a shock to me, too. No one understood that he was the last person on this earth I ever thought this could happen to. No one understood, including me, that many people who are suffering from Depression try to protect the ones they love by only showing what they want them to see, even to their spouse and best friend.

In the beginning, I paid little attention to that judgment. I was just trying to survive. But as time passed, the thoughts about my family, especially my husband, began to really impact me. And, as the months went on and I unexpectedly found love again – many could not understand, passed judgment and made comments of what they would do in the same situation.

However, here’s the thing and one of the many things I have learned – you have absolutely no idea what you will do until you face that situation and, even then, specific circumstances could be different.

From the beginning of this journey of widowhood to today, I remind myself that I cannot make life decisions for my son and myself only to make others comfortable. I have to follow where the Lord is leading. His grace is sufficient for any problem, struggle or judgment we may face.

I prayed for the Lord’s guidance and tried to turn my defensive thoughts over to Him. He knows my heart, and I knew those who loved me and really knew me would eventually come to a place of understanding. And, most of them have.

When worry of what others think and my own defensive mindset attempt to consume me, I cling to this verse.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Caring too much about what others think can stop us from doing God’s will. When we base our lives on the thoughts of others, we could miss out on all He has in store for us. Lean into Christ. If we are confident in Him, we can be confident in every area of our lives.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Lord, You know our hearts. As we walk this journey of widowhood, we can sometimes care too much of what others think. Help remind us that what you know about our hearts is more important than what others think they know. Guide us through, and open our hearts to Your calling for our lives. Amen.

__________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible.

 

 

Want to read another article by Jennifer? This Isn’t What I had Planned

Want to read another article on judgment? Get Over It by Erika

 

Why

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

My kids’ favorite word as toddlers was why.  Their curious little minds were like sponges, and they eagerly wanted to know the answers to everything.  There were times I was so worn by their why’s I’d count down the minutes until my husband would arrive home from work, so the “why monsters” would turn to him instead.

After my husband died by suicide, I overheard lots of questions from those around me, and I had a great deal of my own deep questions, many centered on my own “why monsters.”

I knew God could’ve chosen to change the circumstances of that horrible day, and the days leading up to it.  He can do anything!  But He didn’t, that was hard to accept.

So the questions before God went something like this:  Why not protect my husband or us from this hurt and suffering?  Why not use this as a powerful testimony in keeping Scott here? Why allow such a horrific thing to occur?

Why us?

I can only assume He probably grew as weary as I used to of my kids.  But, I wasn’t challenging God’s authority or denying His power, I was seeking His divine answers and plans for us.  I wanted to know why, so I could know how.  Because my why questions were followed with how questions such as: How do I move forward?  How do I get my children through this?  How do I do all that lies ahead without my husband?

I meditated on God’s Word because I thought I would find the elaborate answers we all sought.  But, the bottom line is that no one, not one, is above pain and suffering, even God himself.  He sent His Son who took on sin at the Cross and suffered a most unimaginably painful death to pay the price for us.  If God allowed His own Son to suffer for THE greatest purpose, then in this broken world He’s going to allow me to as well.

In fact as a believer God’s word is clear that at times I will suffer in one way or another.  (I Peter 2:21)

From the time sin entered the world, until Christ comes again,  it’s a part of this life. Yet, I can rest assured that my suffering has purpose and is never wasted, even if I really don’t like or understand it.

He didn’t reveal specific answers to my questions, but He reminded me of His promises and encouraged me to trust His plan and His provision for me.

The questions many others and I had were normal.  They stemmed from hurt, fear, even anger, and a lack of understanding.  In the Bible there are several who cry out to God during their trials, asking the inevitable questions, because the burdens are great and the flesh is weak:  The Psalmists ask why, Job asks why, even Jesus at the cross cries out to God the Father as He paid the price for us all, “Why have you forsaken me?”

I realize God may or may not reveal the answers to the questions I have on this side of heaven, but when I need to I ask.  I humbly go before the cross and cry out to God, recognizing His divine authority and accepting His greater purpose and plans for me, choosing to TRUST Him with everything.  

Heavenly Father, this world is so hard and our trials can be so tough.  We come before You with our questions, not out of a place of an arrogant, hard heart but out of a place of humble love and brokenness before You.  Father we ask that You continue to reveal your divine plans to us, that You go before us continuing to bring all glory to You.  Lord, help us to accept what we don’t understand, help us to choose to trust You throughout this journey.  Reveal Yourself to us in ways we could never imagine.  Help us to seek You and Your answers whenever we are weak and hurting.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen


Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here. 

Articles with a similar theme: Why Did This Happen? and Why Now?

Two Years and Trusting in Him

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine

and puts them into practice

is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down,

the streams rose,

and the winds blew and beat against that house;

yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

                                                                                                          Matthew 7:24-25 NIV

 

My storm came on January 15, 2015. The winds blew, the darkness fell, the wave of grief descended, and my world was forever changed.

Yesterday marked two years since my husband Michael made his way to heaven by suicide, and my nearly perfect life was turned upside down. That January day brought shock, confusion, guilt and sorrow like I had never known, knocking me to my knees and pleading with God to give me a different path. Losing my husband, my best friend and father of my child, I wondered how and if I would ever survive.

And that’s where Jesus met me – in that raging storm – grief stricken and consumed by fear.

Night after night I continued to pray and in the beginning, when I couldn’t, I clung to a wooden cross to fall asleep, softly whispering “Jesus, help me.”

I am certain God didn’t plan for something like this to happen, but He allowed it. My husband was just 31, and our son hadn’t even made it to his second birthday. Though I couldn’t fathom why God would ever allow a husband and father to be taken so soon, I knew I had to trust Him. That is when I completely surrendered to His will for us.

As I look back, I am in awe of how God has worked in my life. I could have never imagined the transformation, and strength, hope and joy I would find just two years later. It is a blessing, a miracle, and proof of God’s grace, mercy and faithfulness.

You see, the relationship I had built with my Savior, that foundation, has brought peace, comfort, happiness and healing during the most horrific storm.

Two years later, the wave of grief continues. But today I don’t let it control my life.

For I know the foundation and solid ground on which my life stands and when my circumstances seem overwhelming and everything around me seems to fall, my life, “my house”, will not crumble – because I have Jesus.

He has and always will be my rock.

Sisters, when you find this life seems too much to bare, lean in to Jesus and open your eyes to His eternal perspective. You are here for a reason; let Jesus be your rock. Choose to let Him in and let Him work in your life.

Dear Lord, I know you will hold us close during the storm. Open our hearts and minds to You, finding peace in Your will. Consume us with comfort and, even in the midst of the storm, allow joy to fill our lives. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible. 

More posts like this one: Why Did this Happen? and My God Box

To book one of our team members to speak please email us at: admin@anewseason.net

 

The Lady At The Store

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards’ of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

“Our dad is in heaven, his gun shot himself.”

One of our tougher moments in the early days of this grief journey was in line at a store.  My twin boys were just four years old.  They knew their daddy was in heaven, and they knew the simplest version of what happened.

When the sweet lady in front of us complimented their behavior I barely saw it coming. She told them they should be proud and go home and tell their daddy how well they had behaved.  That poor lady!  She never saw it coming either, but when it did, her face went from pale white to red flushed, as she watched me nod to confirm their words.  She choked back tears as she apologized for saying anything to them and then moved on rather quickly.

Early on that was the usual reaction.  No one really knew what to say.  There were many awkward moments when someone heard my husband was in heaven and then pressed to know how he died.  There was the cashier at the grocery store, who pressed me on my pretty necklace (Scott’s wedding ring I had made into a necklace).  And then couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. The waitress at the restaurant.  The dry cleaner cashier.

Once the word suicide is dropped, the tough awkward moments fly and many well meaning people want to flee!

The stigma of and circumstances surrounding suicide are hard enough for those intimately involved, for a stranger they are nearly impossible.

Yet, there were many who stood by us and were there for us from the very beginning.  Our families hunkered together the day Scott got heaven, as my church family formed a barrier outside of my house to keep strangers and the media out (Scott’s death was very public and made national news). The local businesses that showed up with tray after tray of food. (Our families have lived in the same small town for generations.) The many, some strangers even, who came to show their love towards us, and with compassionate hearts poured out their gifts of wisdom and comfort.

It’s funny how I realize now that before all this I would’ve been the judgmental fleeing kind.  I was “the lady at the store”.  I had my own critical thoughts and opinions on death, especially on suicide, and even grief.

I knew nothing!

Now, I want to say to the lady at that store and the cashier at the grocery store and the many others, “Don’t be afraid to go there.”  Compassion, sympathy and empathy can be so powerful to a hurting person.

And I want to say to the many others, “Thank you!”  Thank you for walking this unashamedly with us.  Thank you for your kindness, care and concern. Thank you for extending grace and showing us Scott’s life was much more than that one moment.

I want to say to each of you,  be ready and willing to go there with others.  You’ve got deep places now.  You get this!  Be ready to stand with the next grieving person.  It’s going to come.  We know that well.  It’s a gift to love others from your pain to theirs.

This grief walk is not wasted. Prepare yourself well, so you aren’t the lady in line with me. Take every opportunity to shine Christ and bless others with the gifts God has now given you.

Father God, thank you for giving me the gifts I have received through this journey.  Help me to see hurt and pain in others and shine You to them as I take the time to care.  Help me to never brush off a hurting person, or waste the lessons You’ve given me.  Prepare to minister to others from the deeper places You have given me.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here. 

Articles with a similar theme: Fill My Days with Living! and THE STEWARDSHIP OF SUFFERING

 

A Legacy of Life Well Lived

Legacy is a loaded word for me now.  Becoming a widow at 35 years old made me acutely aware of the increased need to leave a legacy for my kids, while fiercely protecting and even nurturing my late husband’s legacy.  

In the beginning it was hard.  My husband died by suicide in a very public manner. The fear and shame of that fact drove me for awhile.  I feared how my very young children would ever live full lives with one parent missing. I was afraid of how damaging this would be for them as they learned the details and reality of their father’s death. I also spent countless hours trying to figure out how I could destroy the statistics they now faced in their own liveswith the hereditary factors of mental illnessI thought I needed to “prove” or “do” something, to create a “worthy” legacy to eliminate the stigma of suicide from all of us.

In the six plus years on this journey, God has healed me in mighty ways.  He’s taught me how to embrace the life He has ordained for me, and claim full victory in Christ over my husband’s suicidal death.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I am not defined by what’s happened to us.  My kids are not destined to become suicide victims, or prone to struggles themselves. 

My God is bigger!

My kids are His, and He has ordained their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

I can fully TRUST Him with their lives and with mine.  (Psalm 91:1-2)

I am a daughter of the KING and not bound by any stigma(2 Corinthians 6:18)

I have come to realize the legacy is in our entire story. That story still unfolds today.  It’s in our children and their limitless, God-designed futures.  Scott’s legacy is in his eternal reward he is receiving right now in Heaven. 

As a widow I get the unique privilege of not only seeing and influencing my husband’s legacy through sharing our story and raising our kids, but I am experiencing a greater sense of the importance in making sure I leave a positive, faith-filled, legacy too

My desire and prayer is to influence my children and anyone I can for the Kingdom.  

want to glorify God even in the midst of so much tough stuff; praying that God will continue to use me and my kids for His greater purposes, and my kids will choose to walk in full victory in Him throughout their lives.  

At the end, I hope the biggest part of my legacy will be I reflected Christ and faithfully followed Him all the days of my life. 


Here are some practical tips for living a legacy now that will impact the Kingdom for eternity:

• Share your story and your faith with everyone you can.
• Lead your home and your kids well rooted in the Lord and His Word. (Deuteronomy 6)
• Tell your kids about their daddies. Remember him well for them.
• Honor God, even in the mire of grief.
• Remind yourself and point your kids to God‘s redemptive plan. (Revelation 21:5)
• Leave fingerprints on this world by actively participating in your church and by making missions a mission.
• Comfort others with the same comfort you’ve been given. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
• Grow your faith through personal, small group, and large group studies.
• Find intentional ways to groyour kids faith.
• Surround your kids with those who’ll point them to Jesus.
• Pray for your kids, for their salvation, for their futuresand for their spouses.
• Pray for your future and seek His will for you now.
• Live life! (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12)
• Trust God in every single way, walking in the shelter of His love, grace, and provision every day. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other posts on leaving a legacy: New Traditions and Something old, something new

Stuck

Please join us today as we share a post, our dear sister Leah wrote, about trusting God as He transitions us to new seasons.


Stuck in Last Season by Leah Stirewalt

I suddenly woke up! Sweating profusely! My heart was racing, and I could feel panic creeping in.
                         
Thankfully, I realized fairly quickly that it was just a dream or, rather, a nightmare.
 
What possibly could have caused such a frightening reaction first thing in the morning?
 
Stickers! 
 
Yes…you read that correctly! I had a nightmare about stickers.
 
Now, before you run off laughing hysterically about something so seemingly ridiculous, allow me to explain.
 
My husband and I just finished having a mammoth yard sale! This wasn’t just your average yard sale. We’re in the process of adopting and raising funds for that adoption through every means possible. In researching ideas, I came across the thought of having a yard/bake sale in which we invite others to donate their unwanted “treasures”. We spent over a month driving all over our region gathering items for the yard sale donated by family, friends, and even strangers.
 
Exactly one week, to the day, we pulled out the stickers and tags, and the pricing marathon began. We ended up with enough donations to fill a 10′ x 30′ storage unit, so you can only imagine how many late night hours were spent that final week simply placing stickers on things.

Throughout that last stretch, there were many times I thought we wouldn’t make it…we wouldn’t be ready…the sale would be a flop. But, I kept those thoughts to myself, because I didn’t want to discourage my husband, as he was working so hard alongside me as well.
 
God brought us to the day of the sale. The night before we only had about two hours of sleep. It took everything we had to load up the truck to move it to the location of the sale. We then had to be ready before dawn to set up tables, unload the truck, put out signs, etc. By God’s grace, we made it! The shoppers arrived. The clouds remained above us (keeping the temps down), and the rain never came during the hours of the sale. By the end of the day, the Lord had allowed us to raise just under $4000! Yes! A yard sale that raised $4000…hard for my finite mind to even imagine, but I was there and saw it happen right before my eyes. And, with that, the season of yard sale fundraising ended!
 
But, as it turned out, it was still in the forefront of my mind. It had become such a part of me for so many weeks that I found myself even dreaming about those silly stickers. While God had already moved me into the next season of our adoption journey, part of me still remained stuck in the old season. As a result, it began to unsettle me a bit.
 
I find that’s actually happened in other areas of my life too.
 
After regaining weight I had worked so hard to lose, I found myself struggling to move forward, because I remained stuck in a season of regret over the mistakes I made leading me to gain the weight back.
 
After losing my late husband to suicide, I found myself repeatedly revisiting the season right before his death to try to determine if I had done anything differently, would he still be here?
 
After deciding in college to abandon my dream of nursing school, I found myself returning to that season numerous times by reapplying to nursing school, only to realize much later that it was never God’s plan for me to begin with.
 
In each of these cases, God had already ushered me into the next season of my life, but I never allowed myself to go there…completely, that is. 
 
I couldn’t quit thinking about the days, months, or years prior. I replayed those times over and over in my mind. And just like after my sticker nightmare, God had to sweetly remind me…
 
It’s time to move on, dear daughter. Trust My plans for you. Trust Me in this next season. Don’t look back, questioning everything. Don’t look back with regret. I’ve got this! I want nothing but the best for you. Trust Me.
 
And…I’ve so sweetly discovered that only then do I flourish. Only then am I capable of living out His plans for me and in His perfect timing!
 
LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. ~Psalm 84:12 (NIV)

If you would like to read other articles by Leah, you can click here.
If you want to read more articles on dealing with suicide, click here.

Get Over It

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

Psalm 25:4

“Get over it!”

Yep that’s me in one of my finer parenting moments.

My son was upset about something that in the moment mattered to him, but to me it was not important.  So out came those lovely words. My son needed love and empathy, but all I gave him were harsh words with no thought for how much they might hurt him.

As a widow of over six years, I’m sure there are those who think I should “get over it” too. Because they see me in a ministry for widows, or hear me boldly claim that I will always love and miss Scott, or that he’s still a big part of who we are, they may believe I’m stuck or living in an unhealthy way.

I’ve never directly been told to get over it.  But, I’ve been sent veiled messages and received comments that certainly intended to say those words.  Things like “if you just try harder to meet someone”, or “it’s uncomfortable and hard to see you and the kids or have you say his name so much.”   Then there’s my favorite, “He’s in such a better place and that must make you happy now.”

Empathy isn’t easy!   It’s hard to go into those deep uncomfortable places with someone.  I too, have stood in judgement and sent veiled messages to others I thought were in a place they shouldn’t be.

Even as a widow, I sometimes judge other widows.

In my first few years, I looked at those years ahead of me and thought, “I won’t be like them at that stage.” Because I had put God in a box and predetermined how I thought this journey should go. I thought grief and loss was a skin I would shed, or a place I would move away from. I thought that at some point God would just “magically” make it all go away.

The truth is, grief and loss go with us. They become a part of who we are until we move onto heaven.

And each of us have a unique journey.  A big part of who we were now resides in heaven.  I may not be in love with my husband or married to him anymore.  But I’ll always love him.  He’ll always be a part of who I am.  My relationship with him and our marriage together has certainly molded who I am now.  My kids are his legacy.  And they want to know him, remember him, and take him with them as they grow up.

So no, I won’t ever get over this.  I won’t be driven by what others think.  I’ll walk my journey.  I’ll keep my eyes on Christ.  But, I’ll remember Scott, and honor him and my Savior every single day. I’ll heal. I will change and grow. I will trust God. But, Scott will always be with us even as we choose to live life to the fullest.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles related to this: Will We Be Married in Heaven?,  Moving Forward, & Moving Toward or Away

Dishonorable Honor

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  

John 3:30 ESV

 

My husband’s death was classified as a non-line of duty death.

And to add insult to injury, it was said to be “dishonorable”.

Suicide tends to be viewed that way!

The words that are used cut deep.

Selfish

Weak

Dishonorable

Coward

Lost

Choice

Those are all words I’ve heard.  Many times over.

They might even have crept into my mind, at times, when this became too hard.  When the pain was so deep.  The missing so vast.  The resent palpable.

It’s easy to go there.  Suicide means the person wanted to die right?  They chose it?

During our two year journey leading up to Scott’s death, we saw numerous doctors and tried many avenues of treatment.  We were relentless in trying to find a “cure”.  Because honestly, that’s what it was going to take.  Scott’s brain was betraying him by becoming diseased and his doctors, the treatment plan, and his work support were failing him.  He wanted a cure as badly as anyone else who gets the bad news that he has a long term, debilitating, life altering, life-threatening illness.

But nothing worked; he just kept getting worse and worse.  As a police officer with a weapon at his side, our very worst fear came true that horrific day.

I’ve had many people in our world make me feel less. Early on I allowed the shame to get the better of me.

I wanted a different story.  I wanted an “honorable” one!

I watched other police officers who died a hero’s death receive such honor and glory.  Their names go on a wall in Washington, they are memorialized, and the brotherhood of police speak highly of them for years to come.  Scott was soon forgotten by many and dismissed by others.  There’s no post each year in the State Police on his end of watch, no overt recognition of Scott’s contributions, service and dedication to the job he loved.

A job he loved SO MUCH,

that he died trying to keep it…

By doing and taking anything asked of him, even when it was making him deteriorate rapidly, harming instead of helping.

These realities stung for a quite awhile for me early on, and gave the enemy a foothold in my life.  It was hard not to resent others and be bitter.  My husband died while trying to get well.  But all anyone outside of this saw was… my husband “chose” to die.

I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt suicide is never a choice.  Suicide goes against every natural defense our great God gave us.  The whole fight or flight brain make-up.  Once that instinct is lost, once someone gets so deep into this vastly misunderstood and brutal disease, it’s hard to know what’s what anymore.  Scott often said he felt like his brain was betraying him and he could no longer use the things and parts he knew well, to stop it.

Scott’s end was tragic and horrific.

But,

Of course there is a but…

Now I realize that God gave me this “dishonorable” story for His greater honor.

You see, I now know if Scott died in a different manner he would’ve become more and God would’ve been less in so many ways.  Scott would be the greater focus and not God.  When I was stripped of even my pride in how Scott died, that’s where God met me.  That’s where He said, “Watch Me use this for My greater glory. Watch Me use that man of yours and his horrific story to touch lives for My Kingdom.”

Understanding today more fully how He would use Scott’s story, I realize that if I truly trust God then I can trust His plan for me too. Even if that plan is a death that’s “dishonorable” in the world’s eyes.  Because in Him I find perfect honor.

So, on this the sixth anniversary of Scott’s Heaven day, I say thank You!  Thank You, God, for the dishonorable honor of my story, and for being bigger and more in this story than anything or anyone else. Thank you for making us decrease, so You could increase.

God is more and we are less, for that I am grateful!

Father God, helps us to embrace our story.  Even if it’s not honorable.  Help us to desire for You to be much more and us to be much less.  Help us to humble ourselves before You and submit to Your authority in this tough journey. Help us to remember that You alone deserve the honor and glory.  In Your matchless name, Amen. 


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles written by our team with a similar theme: Let God & More Vast

 

My Tribe

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”  C.S. Lewis

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

I’ve heard it countless times as a widow from some wonderful and well meaning people.  Early on, it was my married friends or some other person who thought they were helping.  One time a pastor even said it to me, when I mentioned how tough it was to not be part of a couple or have the friendships I had anymore.

“God is your husband now. He is all you need.”

With every ounce of my being I know each person meant well and was trying to comfort me, even if there was no deeper true understanding of what I was going through.

Frankly though, they were wrong.

In the garden of Eden God was with Adam.  Scripture says He was present, and He walked and talked with Adam.  Yet, in Genesis God says “it’s not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)  So He created a help mate, a partner!

From that union forward we see many rich and beautiful relationships and marriages throughout God’s Word. To name just a few: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Isaac and Rebeckah, and even Mary and Joseph.

We also see the need for a friend too, a go to person; Jesus had Peter, David had Jonathan, Naomi had Ruth, Abraham had Lot, Job had his close friends.

Please understand me.  I believe God is good.  He is Sovereign.  I love Him and He loves me.  He’s certainly provided, protected and loved me throughout. He’s set me apart as a widow. He has been there for me.  He has become my husband in some tangible ways and no human will ever come before Him in my life again.

But I still need more!  I need people. A tribe! Real live huggable, lovable people.  And to be told otherwise goes against God’s word.

I need people who’ll show empathy and give me the freedom and encouragement needed to walk this path, even if they don’t get this at a deeper level because they haven’t experienced it.  I need those who’ll spend time with me.  Who’ll let me pour into them, and they into me.  I need confidants and supporters. I need to be needed too.

We all need a group or tribe of people in our life.

Of course my “before” tribe looked very different than my “now” tribe, and I may lack the intimacy of marriage; but God Himself and my tribe have perfectly filled some of the more important voids.

My tribe consists of married, widowed, single, and divorced. My tribe blesses me every day.  And I pray I bless them every day too.

Sisters, don’t settle.  Don’t be fed the lies that we don’t need more because God is our husband now.

God will fill you up.  He will heal you and move you forward.  No one can be Him.  But He shows us from Genesis on, we need a tribe!

Maybe it’s a tribe of one or two.  Or it’s a tribe of ten or more.  It doesn’t matter.

Just find your tribe!  And let God bless you richly through them.  Let Him use you too, to comfort and love them from the deeper places this journey has given you.

I encourage you to seek a tribe who can stand together with you united in faith, love, and friendship.

Father God, I thank You for my friendships and the way You use each of them in my life.  I thank You that You’ve called me to be the kind of friend I seek in others.  I thank You for Your constant presence in my life, and for being my husband.  Yet, giving me so much more than I ever deserve in the tribe You’ve gifted to me.  May I never forget how much You have loved me and provided for me in the absence of my earthly husband.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her.

 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Related articles on this topic: Falling into Friendship God’s Way and What is Friendship?

That Day

 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.  The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 118: 21-29

 

June 16th, 2010, the day my husband got heaven, was the day my world and life as I knew it ended.

That day, my husband took his own life.

It was the single hardest day of my life and it broke me in so many ways.  But, I wasn’t the only one.  What happened that day broke many people; our children, our family, our friends, our church, and many strangers who heard it as breaking news or went by the scene.

That day I was spared though, because I wasn’t with him, and I didn’t find him.  Yet, there were a handful of strangers who weren’t spared. I’ve thought and prayed for them often.

There was a man who stopped within seconds and was the first to try to help him. Then a second man who stopped and helped, and a woman had stopped too. In the end I was told there were about five in those first precious minutes, who stopped on the side of a busy road and were there to help and protect my beloved husband until paramedics arrived.

I prayed for years that they’d be protected from what they saw and what they did would be honored.  That it wouldn’t scar them.  And that they could find peace in it.  I even prayed for the opportunity to thank them.

Last year, I got a message from the woman who stopped. We corresponded via email and I could sense her pain.  After a time, we agreed to meet.

As we sat and talked, she shared intimate details of that precious horrific day. We both shed mighty tears. At one point she shared that she’d been tormented by what she saw.  That she kept dreaming of it and couldn’t get one picture out of her head; the image of his strong left hand where his shining unblemished wedding band was resting gently on his leg. As she sobbed and shared, I reached up and took my necklace off.

In it was something I needed her to hold, because I had taken Scott’s wedding ring and made a necklace from it. I handed it to her and she held it so tight. In that moment, I saw her release some of the pain of that day and those terrible images. She could see the new I created in that ring and in our life. I shared my great God with her too. And I pray she saw Him shine as I talked.

I’ve never seen her since, but I’m so grateful for our time. I’m most grateful God gave me a chance to meet one of those who cared enough to stop. I love that I can now pray so specifically for her, and I hope that she saw God’s love and glory on full display in and through me.

I share this with you sisters because your story matters.  Your husband’s death matters. Your suffering matters.  The suffering of others matters.  The kindness of others matters.  The healing matters. And sharing matters!

God wants to use your ugly, messy, sad, precious story for His glory. It’s certainly not easy or comfortable for some of us. There are those who will never see our story through the grace filled, redemptive eyes of Christ, and will instead judge us. But, that’s ok.  I can’t control others.  I can just lay my story humbly before the Lord, committing it to Him, relinquishing my control over it.

The day I met that woman is right up there with one of my toughest days. The harsh realities of what happened that day reopened wounds for me.  But my comfort, my heart, my pride, or even my privacy doesn’t matter if I’m blocking God from using me, my husband, and our story to help others and bring Him great glory!

If I hide away, I’m just giving the enemy more victory and I’m robbing God!  And I’m wasting our suffering. What additional tragedy that would be.

My husband is gone.  The days leading up to it were terrible.  And his death was horrible.  But that’s where the bad stops and the good starts.  God allowed bad, but He will work it for His good and glory.  I believe and trust that!

And I trust Him!

That day, our story became HIS STORY!

Father, help us to be bold.  Helps us to humbly watch You work and move in our lives.  Give us the courage to relinquish any shame we may feel over our story to Your greater purposes.  Let us be a light in dark places, and give us opportunities to share even the ugly stuff, so we can glorify You.  I thank You for the messy story You’ve given me and I pray, Lord, that You give me the strength I need to walk this journey as a humble servant in Your mighty hands.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her.

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Related articles on this topic: Story Keepers and The End of the Story?