Throughout last week I frequently teared up. I just couldn't believe it. I should have dressed in my version of sackcloth and ashes---a pair of truly hideous black stirrup stretch pants from the '80's and a super huge sweatshirt of Bruce's, now 16 years old. Not "holy" clothes, but certainly hole-y!
I muttered words from the book trailer of Sandra Aldrich's "Will I Ever Be Whole Again" where she asks why God would take her young, very needed husband and father of their two children when she could have easily pointed out 5 or 6 other men He should have taken instead! I too could point out many other men God should have taken instead of my friend's husband!
I also experienced life on the other side of the clergy fishbowl. You see, like in my first marriage, my friend's husband was a pastor. Similarly, my friend's husband died unexpectedly and instantly. She was walking where I'd walked when my husband Bruce died; a curious drama unfolded for me as I examined my own emotions and responses and I began to realize how the people around me had felt and grieved when I was widowed. I heard myself say one of the same things they did---"The world needed him so much! This is a horrible loss for the whole world!"
And I almost had to take back a phrase I had believed back then. After I was first widowed, when people would look at me with that pity in their eyes and comment on my great loss, I insisted on saying, "My life is not diminished, it's just different." What I meant by that phrase was that God had not changed at all. His grace was lavish to me, his faithfulness was great, his mercies were new every morning, my life was blessed with every spiritual blessing in Him, I was chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven and justified! God was with me, and for me, I had nothing to fear; He would graciously give me all things.
I could believe that for myself, but last week I could not believe it for my friend because I was so focused on her loss and the way my heart ached for her. The truth is the same though. God has not changed at all. Her life is not diminished, it's just different. I think she already knows that. She knows God, she knows He ordained all her days (and her husband's days). She will get through this. She will survive, and eventually she will thrive.
On Friday night I drove 150 miles and stayed with some gracious friends of hers so I could attend the funeral the next day. Her voice was no longer flat, her spirit encouraged, her children a circle of strength and love, the funeral was beautiful. But as we all know, that's just the beginning of this chapter in her life called widowhood.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.