Monday, July 6, 2015

Following -- Widow Style

If Bruce were still living on this side of eternity, we would have celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary last week. But, that is something that will never be. We only made it 22 1/2 years.

My life didn't turn out as I expected or as I thought I wanted.  It's very different from anything I ever imagined.

But here, from the other side of widowhood, I have a message for those of you wondering what it feels like after the first year, the next year, and the year after that, and the year after that ...

The message is this: with the Lord you can do this. At the time I really didn't know if I'd make it, but I did. I survived, I grew. How? Psalm 23 -- I knew (and still know) that He's the Shepherd and I'm the sheep. I follow where He leads.  

I had a bunch of dreams tightly clenched in my fist--my life with Bruce, a future with him, career, home, and family. When he died, I lost them all. You know that pain. The emptiness, the loss: like I was clenching my fist around nothing, I tried to recapture those dreams that had vanished. I gasped for hope like a fish on a hook flops around while dying for water, or like a sheep caught in a trap called grief.

I was afraid I'd die. I was afraid I wouldn't die. Either way, though, widowed or not, we follow Christ, right?

And now I'm here. I'm OK. Tom and I had our 13th anniversary this year. Both of us were widowed in 2000 and we married each other in 2002. Life has been a roller coaster ever since, but this year our wedding anniversary was spent in that wonderful, blissful state of holy ordinary. It almost caught us by surprise, like, "Oh! It's our anniversary! Happy anniversary!" And the unremarkable comfortability of it was wonderful.

I never before appreciated 'ordinary' so much.

I thought you'd like to know this about me. Not so you'd be happy for me, but rather that you'll be hopeful for you. God is good, and He's full of lovingkindness towards you, even though it might not seem like it right now.

Yesterday a lady in my Sunday School class spoke up saying, "I want y'all to know there's hope! What a difference the Lord has made in our lives this year!" Her eyes filled with tears as she remembered how last July their world was falling apart. Sound familiar? But this July she stands amazed and filled with gratitude for all the Lord has brought them through. And how'd He do it? Like a Shepherd. Keep your eyes on Him and follow Him today: one. step. at. a. time.


  1. Ferree - Love the phrase the "holy ordinary" it describes it so beautiful. It is ordinary only because we are so blessed to have it happen so frequently, but it is holy and sacred. The 23rd psalm was my husbands favorite, and the beginning lines "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" is what I am having inscribed on the headstone for us. When I started this journey of healing, I told the Lord, I will put my hand into yours, and will follow where you lead me. The Lord has never disappointed me, and he never will. Your blog touched me in a special way that I needed after a quiet and somewhat lonely July 4th. Blessings to you.

  2. In 10 days, 7/15, it will be my husband's 3rd anniversary since he's been with the Lord. And yes, I have found hope for a new future. I know that one day I would like to remarry, which is not every widow's desire. I had a wonderful, Godly husband and my request to the Lord is, "why can't I have another one?". God gives us 2nd and 3rd chances in life when we sin. He continuously restores us back into fellowship with Him because He loves us. He wants us to be near and dear to His heart. So, then, why can't remarriage be a 2nd chance and it's not even about sin? I know God has been faithful to me during my cancer illness and dealing with all the disruptions to my "normal" that I have now. My husband did not have to deal with all those issues because he had dementia. I had to deal with all of that alone. So I wonder and even become excited in thinking that God has a special someone that would be compassionate to my ordeal. I believe that God has that man in preparation for me. I dream about it, but I also know that if God has another plan for me, He will help me accept it. But until then, I continue to hope.

  3. HOPE........the word that has kept me going these last 5 1/2 years and the word that I cling to, lean into, and depend on. I have no dreams for the future and have found that for me, living one day at a time is much less stressful.

    Thank you for continuing to share your heart even after more years of your journey than a lot of us in your groups and for holding out in your hand that shining light of HOPE to encourage us.

  4. Thanks to each of you for your comments today. As you know, I've been struggling with chronic back pain for over a year now, but as you don't know---because of it I almost didn't post anything today. Yet, this was so fresh on my mind, and with my friend's comment in Sunday School yesterday, plus the sermon on Psalm 23 it just seemed right to share with you all what the Lord was sharing with me. He knows our needs---physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational---and I'm so encouraged to know that these words today helped out in some way. "Hope!" It's priceless! What a treasure!
    PS to Lucy--- I agree with you---God is an expert at resurrections and second chances. Plus, he wants us to ask! sometimes we don't have because we don't ask, so keep on praying my dear. I'll be praying for you too! (And for him!---Lord willing, your future husband!) He will be a very fortunate man to find you Lucy.

  5. I am a new young widow, my husband Bob died this January and my feelings and emotions have been taking a lot of curves. At first the road seemed pretty straight he had a long illness and I grieved during that process when he passed it seem to be a great relief for him and for me and I was clinging to the Lord and felt peace for quite some time but now that it's been six months for some reason my emotions have just taken a curve. He was a strong believer in the Lord and we were married almost 41 years! We were both watching the signs of the times together for the last 35 years. I just never expected to be watching alone! I know time is short and will be together soon but for some reason my heart is just grieving and it's hard to stop. I'm waiting for the next straightaway around the bend.

    1. Dear K, Keep watching, today could be The Day! I too watch the signs of the times and each day draws us closer to the Lord's return. But we still grieve and miss our loved one. What you've come upon now at 6 months is very normal and healthy in grief. Losing your spouse after 41 years is a huge change and it takes a longer adjustment time than our culture expects. You processed a lot of grief ahead of time during his illness, but now some more layers of grief and change are surfacing. Not only do we grieve for the past, but I think now you're experiencing grief over the loss of the future you and your husband envisioned as you thought you'd get to experience the Lord's return together. The emotions can be an unexpected jolt as they seem to happen before we understand why they're happening! But in any case, when they come up, receive them and ask the Lord in prayer about them and what He has for you to draw from them. There's a lot of wisdom gained through mourning so glean all you can from it. In the meantime remember that the Lord is not slack concerning His promises. Count on His Word and take these days one moment, one step, at a time. These days won't last forever, but they will pop up every now and then and that's ok. Hugs to you, and please stay in touch.

    2. Thank you so much for your response! It is nice to know that I've got a place on the net where I can find comfort from like minded believers. Today I'm feeling better. Each day has its own challenges. But I'm hold fast to the Lird till He comes!

  6. Dear Ferree. Thank you for the encouraging words. I am just now reading this. The words you share were as if you were looking into the hidden places in MY heart :-) I do feel like God has someone else for me in the future. I am in no rush, but quite content to be tucked away under the shelter of His wings and deepening my relationship with Him. Your words were God's hug and healing and message of hope and life to me. I appreciate the sacrifice of time you make to minister to myself and others. I know you struggle with back pain and issues with your hands too. Sending blessings-peace and prayers for relief for your physical pain. ((hugs)) Debbie :-)

    1. Thank you Debbie, and your words encourage me! God bless you!


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