Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Widow's Story: Kelly L. "Some Days Are Better Than Others"

Dear Reader,
Two younger widows in California, Kelly and Joannah, attended a widows conference over the weekend and I was interested to hear what they experienced. Kelly's account includes a bit of her story, too, so I hope you'll appreciate hearing about the path God is walking her through, and that you'll keep her in your prayers. Tomorrow we'll hear from Joannah, but for now--Take it away, Kelly!
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ADVENTURES AT WIDOWS RETREAT
Where to start...hmmm. Well a few months ago my friend, Joannah, sent me a link to a Widow's Retreat put on by Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. It wasn't very expensive and wasn't very far away and I thought it would be nice to connect with other Christian widows. So Joannah and I registered for Widow's Retreat. I was really looking forward to meeting Joannah since we had only "met" on Facebook. She has been a great encouragement to me and I pray for her often, you can pray for her too!

Joannah wasn't able to attend the Friday night session so I went alone. I had spent the day working at 3 different branches and had a terrible headache. I checked in, got my name badge and waited in the lobby area until it was time to move into the dining room. I looked around the room for someone to connect with but it didn't happen. As the crowd walked into the dining room I thought "if you want to make friends, be friendly." So I looked around and found a table with a few empty chairs. I asked if there was room for one more and the ladies were very nice and welcomed me into their group.

Once dinner was served we were all chatting about work and kids. There were quite a few women in the room and I kept thinking "wow, there are a lot of widows and some look really young!" One of the women asked me if I attended Golden Springs. I told her I had never heard of it! Hee Hee, truly I didn't know it was Raul Ries' church. So they were amazed that I didn't know that :0) We all laughed about it.

Just as dinner was ending they asked how I had heard about the retreat. I told them that my friend had googled "widow's retreats" and found this retreat. A hush fell upon the table and they all looked at each other with strange looks on their faces. One lady said "O, well that explains why your name badge is different." Apparently there were two retreats using the facility that weekend and I was chilling with the normal chicks :0) I told them it was very nice meeting them and chatting with them and that I hoped they would enjoy their weekend. As I stood to leave one of the women asked "are you a widow?" In a far too cheery voice I said, "yep, thank you again!"

I made my way to the meeting area--the right meeting area this time--and sat down. I felt strange, I felt bad, I felt like I didn't handle that very well. Then the worship started. I looked around and all I could see were older ladies. Of course they were widows: you are supposed to be a widow when you are old. You are supposed to love with your husband until you are old; you are supposed to still hold hands and young people will call you cute, ya know? I just felt my bad attitude getting worse.

 I am the type of person that keeps to myself. For years I have been working on that, sharing more, hugging more, etc. But I was feeling overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, anger. I was angry at myself for feeling that way too. When it was time to head to our rooms I just felt I couldn't stay. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I didn't want to be a widow! I didn't want to be there.

I had left my grief support group just a few months after Joseph died because I looked around and saw these people that had been there for years, stuck. I didn't want that to be me. I didn't want to sob in front of strangers, I didn't want to hear their advice, I didn't want to become them. In many ways I have. I am changed. Some things are for the good; but some things I've learned about myself are ugly and I don't like them.

I drove home that night instead of staying in the overnight accomodations. I cried harder than I have in a while. It was the choking cries that came in those first moments after Joseph died. I found myself asking God "how can this be real?" But, it IS real and GOD is real and He IS faithful. In my own bed, I prayed as I fell asleep. I woke up feeling so much better and decided to meet Joannah for the Saturday sessions. I am so glad I did!

The first session was on grief. I was so impressed by the speaker. She is a "completed widow", which means she has remarried. I'm telling you because I didn't know what it meant either. She gave incredible insight and truly spoke to my heart. I can't remember her name but I thank God for her. I needed to hear her. As we were looking over her pamphlets Joannah realized that the speaker is her neighbor.

During the break before lunch we both went up to meet the speaker. She was so sweet and you could see her heart for widows...she loves us! She asked Joannah how her husband died. And then she asked me. I hesitated and someone else came up to meet her so I thought I was off the hook. But alas that was not the case :0) I explained that my husband, Joseph, had bi-polar and was given medication to treat Hepatitis C. I explained that three out of the four medications they gave him should never be given to anyone with a mental illness because of the suicidal "side effects". I told her that Joseph committed suicide. She touched my arm and said "you are not alone, there are others here too." I was amazed at her compassion.

After lunch we split up into smaller groups to discuss some specific questions. I sat with some little old ladies at the back of the chapel. They had an empty chair and needed a butt to fill the seat, so I obliged them. They were really friendly and cute. The speaker came up and wanted Pastor's wives in their own group, so they all moved. Then she asked for mothers of teenagers to move, they did. Then she asked for anyone whose husbands had died tragically or by suicide to please come up. WHAM!!! My heart was pounding out of my chest. No one in the room got up. I thought "maybe they are scared too, she said there were others." The speaker asked again and this time she made eye contact with me. I am not ashamed of Joseph, I love him, I feel compassion for him and I can't wait to see him again. I told myself "get up and walk...do it!!" So I stood and walked to the front, pretty soon a few others came up to and the facilitator started our discussion questions.

As we went around the group telling how our husbands died I was getting more anxious. The first two women had husbands that were alcoholics and died. Then it was my turn. I explained what had happened. The next girl had an 18 month old and was four months pregnant when her husband was murdered. The last woman said "I am not a widow, I have never been married, I came to support my sister who is a widow but I am part of your group because my brother committed suicide 5 years ago." God knew I needed these women. I was truly blessed by Glenda, she was so strong, so matter of fact, so like me. I needed to be reminded of some things and Glenda did just that.

Emotionally this weekend caught me off guard, which is okay. I am still learning how to live for Jesus in all that I say and do. I fail at it miserably. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." Romans 7:19. I do and say things that I wish I didn't. I want to be a living testimony of Jesus Christ. I fail. I want to be used of God. I know that He has entrusted this to me and I need to steward it carefully, it carries eternal value. I do not believe this is all about me and what God is doing in me. I believe that I am living through this as a lesson for some of you, too. God is doing great and marvelous things in my heart and life. I would not trade this life!

My Dad used to tell us a story about the Good Shepherd, Jesus. He told us how shepherds would sometimes break the legs of their lambs in order to train them. The lamb would then be carried and cared for by the shepherd until they were healed. The lamb learned to cling to the shepherd, depend on the shepherd and recognize his voice during this time. Once the lamb was healed he never strayed and always listened and obeyed his shepherd. That is how I feel. I am broken and crushed. But I am learning to be desperately dependent on Jesus; I can hear His still small voice whispering truth to my soul. I long for Heaven where I will worship Jesus for eternity.

This life is a vapor, it is gone so quick. Please don't waste a moment. Repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ for your salvation. He paid a debt you could not. Jesus satisfied the requirement for sin, a pure sinless sacrifice. Please read the book of John. I love you and pray for you often.  Kelly

6 comments:

  1. Another learning experience on my widowhood journey...and yes some days, some hours, some minutes are better than others...thanks for sharing!

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  2. Kelly, thank you for having the courage to share your story here. I have a new widow friend who was in my Widow's Walk Grief/Growth Support Group whose husband also committed suicide for the same reasons your husband did. Candy

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  3. Some days are better than others. Recently it seems as though most days are "others". Thank you for sharing Kelly's story. God's "hesed" is great, and sufficient for each of us in our unique circumstances. Ha - unique, yet common to man... So glad I can cling to His promises. He says He began this work in me, and He is going to complete it. He has crushed me so that I would learn to trust Him and depend on Him. That is a good word.

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  4. And Kelly - God bless you. I am praying for you today.

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  5. Thank you for sharing. The story about the shepherd and lambs really struck me.

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  6. Thank you for your kind words and prayers. You are all in my prayers, my sisters in sorrow. To God be all glory!

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