Yesterday Monday morning, I woke up and the old fog had descended upon my spirit again. I didn't want to face the day or my responsibilities. I wanted my kids to leave me alone and not need anything. I was so tired of being the only one who could meet their needs. I wanted margin. Just the day before I was saying how much my children delighted me. Why the sudden change in mood?
And then: of course. Can you believe that on Feb. 7th it will have been 9 years since Andrew left us?
I wanted the past to be the past. It took 8 years for the past to stop feeling so present. I didn't want to think about or face my tears.
Imagine your beloved spouse never coming home again. The agony in that second of imagination is too great to bear. Multiply that unbearable second by 60 seconds, then by 60 minutes, then by hours, then days, then weeks, then years. Eight years. "Oh God I can't do this! This is too much!" I hear myself exclaim over and over alone in my room for the past 9 years. "I can't raise these children by myself! This is too much to ask of me!"
And then: "But you have. You've made it through 9 years. Can you believe it? You've rebuilt your life. Raised 2 amazing children, who you adore and they love you so much. You've learned how to smile again and laugh and to be happy. You live such a rich life! It's really amazing what you've accomplished by God's faithfulness. Just keep doing what you're doing. God is with you. Just make it through today. His grace is enough. Tomorrow has enough trouble of it's own. God's grace will meet you there too."
Several minutes later, Gracie Olivia comes over and hugs me. "Mama I love you SOOOO MUCH! With all my heart it's just about to burst I love you so much!"
If you want to serve your widowed friends, look through Scripture and obey it. "True religion is to visit the widow and the fatherless in their distress." And it is distress. Children growing up everyday without their godly father to know how they're even supposed to carry themselves. Visit them or have them over. If you haven't invested any time into them, how can you know their needs or how to meet them?
"...Admonish the unruly, ENCOURAGE THE FAINTHEARTED, help the weak, be patient with everyone." (1 Thess. 5:15). Encourage the fainthearted. That is what my current church has done for me. Make sure not to screw up this verse and ADMONISH the Fainthearted. Especially if they are in the middle of going through actual trauma--do not kick someone when they are down. When they are most vulnerable, you could exacerbate their trauma 10 or 100 times more-fold depending on how much influence you have in that person's life. That happened to me 10 years ago. And you do not want to do that. So be humble and not self-righteously arrogant. Imagine yourself in their situation and ask yourself what you would be feeling and what you would need. Be gentle.
While God has provided so much healing, certain times of the year, especially this one, press on the scars and brings out the pain all over again. Pray for us. It feels like I'm walking through wet cement again.
I saw another widow's video recently from her husband's memorial service. I felt rage. Beautiful families with loving fathers and husbands aren't supposed to die with the children and widow having to live day after day with the consequences! "THIS IS WRONG!" I scream. I feel it and know it in my being. This isn't how it was meant to be! In the Garden of Eden, there was no death, no suffering, no fatherlessness, no widows in distress. But because of such horror, Jesus died. Thank God, He rose. Jesus will come again. And He will make everything right. But He hasn't yet. Until then, we live in a broken world that we Americans do not want to look straight in the face. Don't minimize people's sufferings around you just because of your lack of courage. Look people's pain in the face, weep with them, and do what God's Word says, and sacrifice for them and serve them.
You know, if you're wondering, what you're suffering friend may need the most is simply a listening ear and validation. They need you to sit beside them and enter into their suffering by weeping with them. They don't need you to know better, because unless you've been through what they've been through and come out on the other end, you don't. Thinking you know something in theory is completely different from putting something into practice day after day after day for years and persevering. If you really knew, then you'd be gentle, like someone trying to carefully bandage a wound.
I am grateful for my church that was born on Feb. 7th, 2010, exactly 1 year after Andrew went to be with the Lord. The Lord gave me my husband, then took him away, and then replaced him with my family of Maranatha Grace Church. Andrew was the only place that truly felt like home. Until I had my church. It is my safe place where I feel cared for and protected. I'm grateful for my friends. My friends have lent me their listening ears, their hugs, their validation, and their encouragement: "You're doing it, Grace. Just keep going."
I am grateful for those of you who have held up my arms, prayed for us, and given me strength over the years. You are provisions from God and an example to many.