Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July....Not.

(Flickr photo credit: by Michael
@ NW Lens 4th of July Parade in Burien, WA)
July used to be an emotional land-mine for me. My wedding anniversary with Bruce was July 1, and honestly? Our anniversary celebrations rarely lived up to my expectations and neither did the 4th. He wasn't much for parades and sparklers and watching fireworks from a blanket on the lawn on the 4th, nor anniversary gifts on the 1st. And although we loved each other and had a good marriage, I usually got my feelings hurt every July. So even as a widow July was loaded with ... shall we say..."baggage."

After he died, the first time July rolled around a lot of people remembered my wedding anniversary and included me in their July 4th fun and that helped a lot. But the second year was awful. I got a card from my sister-in-law, but no one else said a word. They all forgot. And then all my past miserable memories rolled up into one big wad of self-pity and depression! Here's a bit from my old journal:

I spent the day doing laundry, studying for the GRE, and a little housecleaning. I thought about going to the parade, but my teenage son certainly didn't want to go with me, nor did my daughter and her girlfriend who was living with us. And my oldest daughter was at work. So I stayed home because usually it's even lonelier to be by yourself in a crowd. By evening all the kids had scattered, the house was empty. I played free-cell, remembering how addicted I was to its mind-numbing power last summer, and I kept checking my email--but of course it was empty as no one in the world except me would be in front of their computer on the 4th of July . . .

It gets even worse after that, and I'll spare you the drama, but it makes me wonder--is anyone in front of their computer today? If you are, and you're feeling as miserable as I was during that second year of widowhood, let me encourage you with how I handled it. (We'll skip my night spent bawling my eyes out and wandering over to the medicine cabinet where I couldn't find enough pills on hand to do me in).

Here's what I did:

You know those people who look you in the eye, and in all sweetness and sappiness they say--"If there's anything I can do . . .?" Well, the very next morning I called every single one of them. I said, "Meet me at the park at noon and bring a sandwich."

Four of them were able to show up. When we met, I showed them my journal entry, which, like I said, got worse and worse than the paragraph I just showed you. I had scared myself and I scared them, too! After they read it (and cried), I cried, we all cried! I said through my blubbering and tears, "I'm broken. I'm crippled like that man in the Bible who couldn't walk and needed his friends to carry him to Jesus. I need each of you to pick me up and carry me to Jesus. I need you to pray for me and call me every day for the next two weeks and get me through this."

Did they call me every day? No! Of course not! But enough of them called, and they called me enough. They were just ordinary Christian women, the kind that would never say a peep at a Bible study. Two of them were divorced, one had enough struggles of her own, one was a brand new Christian, but they were God's ministers to me. The days passed and I got through it because they helped. Had I not told them I needed help, I don't know what would have happened.

So if you're with me today, and you're reading this because the silence in your house is deafening and the loneliness is suffocating, I think God wants you to know you're not really alone. He's placed some good people around you, and at this point, that is how He will minister to you. You might not feel especially close to God, you might even wonder if He really does exist. But He does. He loves you. He has good plans for you. And He has some people around you that need to know you need them. Try calling them, send God an SOS too because He really is listening... and please let me know what happens.

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jer. 33:3
ferree

7 comments:

  1. This was a good reminder to me. The last several days I've been battling some real anxiety, and it's now causing physical issues (not life threatening, just annoying). I went through this a few times when my husband was still alive, but I had him to hold me and encourage me back then. Now I just feel horribly alone. I don't know why I don't think to reach out to others. Maybe it's pride. Maybe it's thinking they won't understand. Maybe it's because in the back of my mind I think I should be over this. I don't know. I do know that I'm going to go, right now, and reach out to some prayer partners. Tomorrow I’m joining friends for lunch, and I'll share with them as well. Praying for you, Ferree, that you are doing well today.

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  2. You are always so honest! I remember going to my medicine cabinet , more times than I care to admit, with the same plan! Your advice is perfect! God has answered my pleas over the last 5 years thru friends who heard my cries for 'help'! Thank you for sharing your heart!

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  3. Glad to see I'm not the only one who checks email repeatedly . . .

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  4. Dear Mrs. Mac, We are indeed complex and anxiety certainly can play havoc with our health. I'm glad you recognize it and will be doing something about it. It's a battle and sometimes I am my own worst enemy when I, like you hesitate to share my burdens with the friends and prayer partners around me. I hope your sweet friends show good support and understanding as you have lunch with them today. I'll be praying for you too.

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  5. Dear Susan and Anonymous, Friends, friends, friends---whether we check our emails way too often or open the medicine cabinet for the wrong reason---reaching out is the best step to take. Thank you both for your honesty and helping me realize that the Lord did see me through those dark days, and He has, and will continue to be with you too. I'm so grateful to hear from you both! Hugs.

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  6. Ferree, I'm now reading your book for the 2nd time. Thank you so much. However, this 2nd yr. has been worse than the first for anxiety. I don't ask why my husband died, I just ask why this grieving process takes so long.

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    1. Dear An... The 2nd year is very different than the first, and you are wise to have anxiety identified as being the trouble. Many widows just say it's worse, but that's not real helpful for finding a way to deal with it. With anxiety though, the Lord can come right alongside you. Take Phil 4:4-8 and 1 Peter 5:7 to heart and try memorizing them and praying about them for several days in a row. Use the ABC's of Hope by my friend Marcia(http://www.widowschristianplace.com/2017/05/the-abcs-of-hope.html )copy them off and read through before bed each night. They're so encouraging and will help you feel safer. The grieving process does take much longer for widows (in my opinion), but for me it was helpful just to hear someone admit that. I hope knowing that it will take a while will help you in the long run. Time will pass regardless though, and you don't have to be "done" with grief before you start making changes or planning ahead. Hang in there! I'll be praying for you!

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