Monday, June 16, 2014

5 Tips About Walking Through Widowhood -- Find A Walking Partner

Do you remember the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi? They were two widows who were there for each other! God never intended for us to make this journey alone. We need a walking partner. Do you have a Ruth or Naomi in your life? Are you a Ruth or Naomi to another woman? Find one or more walking partners today.

You can have more than one walking partner. Several women came in and out of my life during the first couple years of widowhood. And they weren't the ones I expected---they weren't the ones with the "strong Christian" reputations. Those happily married "strong Christian" women had no idea what to do with me. They couldn't relate. (I think they were a little scared of me, like widowhood was contagious or something!)

The women I was surprised to find in my life were the broken ones who knew suffering and grief. How I thank God for them! They knew that I'd survive. They weren't afraid to handle me.

I'll spotlight two of them today because they each had the determination of Ruth and Naomi. They were each named Laura, so I couldn't call then anything but my two Laura's.

Walking partners provide mutual support. My first Laura literally was my walking partner. I'd known her for a few years, but a month or two after Bruce died we began walking together every morning. She had some horrible situations of her own to deal with, we were both almost blinded by the pain of our different circumstances, but we had each other. Committed to putting one step in front of the other, we walked off the days, desperate to get through the calendar and put a safe distance between our broken hearts and the day our lives had changed forever. Some days Laura was the leader, the encourager, the stronger one; on other days I supported her like carrying the wounded off the battlefield.

Study the book of Ruth; that's what Ruth and Naomi did for each other. Their every decision and every choice was for the other's best, but their love was unconditional and freely given.

Walking partners demonstrate uncommon courage. I met my other Laura shortly before Bruce died. I hardly knew her, but after Bruce's funeral, she began to draw me into her world of cystic fibrosis. She was almost 10 years younger than me, but a veteran survivor who had lost many friends to the disease. Since most people with cystic fibrosis died in their 20's at the time, Laura lived in constant diligence of her own condition. And WOW! DID SHE LIVE!

Laura grabbed life by the throat. With two kids from her first marriage, she was constantly on the go, racing to fill each day with activity and verve, like she was stocking up for weeks ahead when she couldn't get out of the hospital. She knew life was a short, precious and sacred trust. There was nothing she wouldn't try: she'd had a career, birthed two babies, gone through a divorce, been a single mom. And now in her new marriage-- which she saw as a merciful gift from God-- no diamond was too big, no beauty treatment too extreme, and no experience too embarrassing.

Yet, when she was in the hospital and one of her long-time cystic fibrosis friends was weakening and dying, it was Laura who would bathe them, bring homey touches to the hospital room, and tell the family what they needed to hear. When I was wringing my hands with worry and fear about the next steps to take in my life and the emotional cost, it was Laura who pushed me on with a sharp--"Why not? You've already lost everything!"

Seeing the grit and courage of my second Laura helped me understand Ruth and Naomi better. Once Ruth and Naomi started on their journey back to Bethlehem, it was no Sunday afternoon stroll. These two defenseless women walked about 50 miles through the same Judean wilderness where the shepherd David killed a lion and a bear. They slept under the stars every night, they carried everything they owned. When one or the other wanted to give up, I imagine a hard poke from the other urged them on with a stern logic: "You've already lost everything! Don't quit now!"

My second Laura walked me back into life. But a year later I was called to her deathbed and witnessed her departure to eternal life. Cradled in the arms of her weeping husband, her son and daughter clinging to her and cryng, "No, no, no . . ." Laura slipped away. Heaven will never be the same. Her funeral was a celebration as we imagined Laura hitting the streets of gold, twirling around the first angel she saw and asking, "Where'd you get your hair done?"

Have your found your walking partners yet? At first you might not recognize them. They might challenge your preconceived ideas of strength and godliness; but in Christ, when we are weak, He is strong inside of us. Don't overlook people who are gifts from God just because they're not wrapped in the paper you expected.

Here are some clues for recognizing the walking partner(s) God might match you up with:
Is she available?
Has she known or is currently experiencing suffering?
Does she know God?
Can your relationship be a mutually respectful give-and-take?

How to find and be a walking partner:
Ask God for wisdom to spot the women He has put in your life. His choices might surprise you! That's why you need to ask for wisdom.
You don't need to form any sort of pact or agreement with your walking partner. Just enjoy the friendship. You might not recognize their impact upon you until you look back on the friendship in retrospect.
Seek to encourage her and fill her up rather than analyze what you receive from her.
Now phone someone and ask her if she'd like to go for a walk.

I'd love to hear about your walking partner in the comments below, or use the comment box for any questions you have. May the Lord mark your path with good friends.

ferree

6 comments:

  1. My "walking partner" is a close neighbor lady who has gone through a divorce. We met by God's plan at church over a year ago.

    Since my husband passed away, I have moved to another state to be grandma and live near my son and his family. Having found a new church, I started into the ladies' Bible Study a couple months into their session.

    At the Bible Study Christmas brunch, the leader introduced me to another lady who would be starting in the Bible Study right after Christmas. Her name is Joy and she radiates God's love, peace and joy!! I am so thankful for my friend.

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  2. Ruby, You wrote "A Covering of Feathers" right? I really enjoyed it and hope to mention it here sometime! :) I'm glad to hear you're finding some new friends. The Lord really does send us a variety of walking partners doesn't he? Joy sounds like a true gift of a friend.

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  3. I love your term, "walking partner." I have several, but will only mention a couple.

    The first friend housed my mom and me while we waited for the Lord to show us what home we were to have so that we could live together after my husband died in Japan. She has opened her house to several people through the years and is so giving. I could not stand the zoo that her house becomes, but she hangs in there with a smile, even though she has more than one health issue and is usually in constant pain.

    The second lady sold us our home and then joined the rank of widowhood when her husband passed away the next year. We have enjoyed many times together including personal chats over lunches. She is a very positive person in spite of health issues.

    The third is my pastor's wife. We are kindred spirits even though she is not widowed. She and I care for our mothers in our home, and encourage each other when the other one needs it. God is so good to give me such sweet friends-including my 94 yr. old mother!

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  4. I was about to reply that I lost my walking partner and there was no one at this time since my precious mother died less than 2 years after my husband had passed over from Earth to Heaven. She was widowed at the same age that I was and would listen to my shocked and broken heart speak. She comforted me as only a loving mother could do. But, then you listed some clues as to recognizing our walking partner(s). Mine is Linda. She is the mother of my oldest son's ex-wife and lost her only son one morning on Thanksgiving Day (also, his 22nd birthday), from a sudden, undiagnosed cardiac condition. She also lost her gracious mother not too long before I lost mine. While not a widow, Linda's husband suffers from a degenerating, genetic neurological disease. We share two sweet teenaged grandsons between us when they visit from home. She was there with my Mom when I woke up from a major surgery the same year that my husband died. How did I not recognize her as my walking partner? She is my best friend, positive, generous, funny, encouraging, and a believer that fully trusts God. Her faith is beautiful. We meet for lunch every month and sometimes with "our boys" together, sharing aspects of our lives, concerns, hopes, and the good as well as the bad times. God put us together for such a purpose and I feel very blessed. Thanks, Ferree, for the recognition of a gift from God.

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  5. I can't really remember ever commenting on a blog or someone's post but your blog really spoke to me. My husband passed away from Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 36. It has been 41/2 years since his death and life has been difficult. I miss him. He was not only my best friend but my husband. I work two jobs to support my son and I and though I know I need support and a Naomi in my life I don't know how to make time or who that could be. I love the Lord and He has been faithful though I often feel along

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  6. Dear Anonymous, your husband must have been very strong and courageous to have battled that disease so long. A very dear friend of mine also died from it at age 36---I greatly admired her. I'm so sorry for your loss and the struggles and I'll be praying that the Lord brings just the right people into your life because you sure don't have time to go out searching for them. He is faithful and sufficient, and His love for you is boundless. Romans 8:38,39 Thank you for commenting here, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to reply sooner but I hope you'll stay in touch.

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