Thursday, October 25, 2012

Living By Faith In A Sea of Sorrow

(The following is something I wrote for blogging buddy Tricia at The Domestic Fringe for her series of 31 Days of Living by Faith. This article will appear on her blog in a few days, but I want to encourage you to visit her blog even now for a good dose of encouragement and humor. :) Many thanks to the women mentioned below, and to every widow I've met---you are my heroes!)

 We never know what life holds for us. While I'm sure we'd all love to live like The Princess and Prince Charming, that sort of happily-ever-after isn't the case for the women I meet here at Widows Christian Place. For these women, the wish of a happy-ever-after turns into a never-again. Their Prince Charming is dead. Marking "widow" as the marital status on the paperwork they'll have to fill out wasn't their dream.

For some, it happens over time as disease gains and over-powers their man. Every form of cancer,  diabetes, heart failures, crippling nuerological disorders bring slow death--- and deeply commited marriage vows. Wendy's husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and died only 22 days later---10 days after their second child was born by C-section. Sharon's husband came down with a rare and debilitating disorder in which their relaxing retirement plans quickly changed to exhausting homecare and a valiant fight to survive. Death doesn't care if you're done living or not.

For others, their whole life changes forever in an instant. For Sandy in Indiana it was when her husband's car was hit head-on by a recently released mental patient who wanted to commit suicide. Sandy and Steve had been having their usual cell phone chat as he drove home from work that day. She heard the boom and crunch of metal before his phone went dead. Car accidents like this, plus heart attacks, anyeurisms, suicides and a ton of other reasons leave widows and their children hanging on to thin threads of faith.   

And that's what they do---they hang on. Some receive warm outpourings of grace and help from their community. Some, like Elaine Cook---who's husband dropped dead from a heart attack while he and their son were unloading the moving truck at their new home in their new city hundreds of miles from friends and family---have no support at all. Others, sad to say, are ostracized by friends and family who are too broken by grief or, perhaps never were capable of compassion.
As I write this newsreel of stories that I, myself, hear day after day, I realize some of you have quit reading already! Others are thinking, "OMG! This is a downer!" But stay with me! Stay with me! Listening to these stories has an exciting and incredible pay-off!   

Elaine realized hundreds and hundreds of other widows experience the same loneliness and isolation she felt when she buried her husband and had to sell her new house. So she started Widow2Widow, "serving God by serving widows" and has brought great joy to both herself and widows in many states. Sandy has continued serving in her church and community by continually trusting God and simply refusing to let despair get the upper hand. Sharon writes encouraging words to other caregivers and new widows and says her walk with the Lord becomes more precious every day. Wendy started a group for young widows in Chicago and continually offers support and empathy through her gifted writing.

And me? I have the sacred privilege of joining these women, and many more like them, for a few steps of their journey. I witness their new life rising up after death. I see women of faith grow stronger right before my eyes. I see them struggle in the cocoon of grief and come forth as beautiful new creations on wings that can cross the oceans of sorrow. I never asked for this job, I never imagined it existed! I'm not exactly equipped for it, but I'm living by faith, it's what I do, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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