Monday, August 1, 2016

It's All About Choices

Dear Readers,
When Bruce died, part of me died, too.

I don't think people realize that when God declared in Gen. 2:24 "the two will become one," God really meant it! So when two become one, but one-half dies, many widows say "I felt like I was cut in half." Did you feel that way too?

Widowhood is one of life's hardest challenges. I also felt like I was cut in half; amputated. Like I was  laying on an ambulance gurney-- in shock, helpless and bleeding to death. "Oh God, how could you do this to me?" I cried.

But today as I look back I can honestly say with the writer of "Amazing Grace," . . . I once was lost, but now am found . . . So let me assure of you this: the pain doesn't have to last forever.

I'm don't write this blog because I'm still grieving; I write it as a sacred privilege God has given me to serve and touch you. To tell you that God loves you. He intends for your immense beauty, strength, resilience and character to push up from these ashes. He intends for you to grow and bloom in a unique and wonderful way.

When you're ready, as God gently nudges you along in your own time, I think you'll learn what I've learned about survival and happiness: it's all about choices.

So as I lay on that figurative gurney, feeling like a person cut in half, I had to work through a difficult decision: it could either be a gurney where I was a trauma victim, or it could be an altar of sacrifice as in Romans 12:1. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

There was no changing the fact that I was a widow, but as a new widow, I could choose to be a helpless victim or--perhaps scarier-- I could choose to present myself to God as a living sacrifice, according to Ro. 12:1.

The problem with a living sacrifice, however, is the ability to scramble off the altar! It was hard to allow God to have His way! But over and over again, that's what it boiled down to. I would have preferred my own death, but God was asking me to live; to live without my husband. I finally made the choice to say "OK." That's the best I could muster--OK. Not a single hip hip hooray. But that's all God asks--simple surrender.

Have you made that choice yet? It's a huge struggle, and a long wrestling match made up of many rounds. But sooner or later, in my opinion, there comes a day when you score enough little victories--enough little OK Lord's-- that the outcome is clearly in your favor. Life gets a little easier because you've become a little stronger; you grow, you become whole, a new life begins. It's pretty amazing!

Today I still make choices. The past few years have brought me times of huge grief, struggles, and challenges I never thought imaginable even though I'm now remarried. On those days I always have the choice of crumpling, of giving up in despair, of kicking myself and saying "if only I'd done this or that," or "if only Bruce hadn't died . . ." But I've learned some techniques that I fall back on to help with my choices.

1. When I'm broken, crippled or paralyzed I ask my friends to carry me to Jesus (Luke 2:4,5). I don't expect them to read my mind or sense my pain, I take the initiative and let them know.
2. When I can't pray, I do it anyway. But not with my own words because when I can't pray, I literally can't pray-- I have no words. I'm down to the bone and the simplest becomes the most profound so I read the Lords Prayer (Mt. 6:9-13). I read it out loud and as many times as I have to-- thinking about each word and phrase. I keep reading until I understand that the Spirit intercedes for me with groanings (Romans 8:26) that are beyond words.
3. I ask myself a series of questions that bring me back to reality:
  • does God love me?
  • does God know about this horrible situation?
  • is God in control?
  • is God with me?
No matter what my says to the contrary, the true answer to each of those questions is yes.
  • Yes, God loves me.
  • Yes, God knows.
  • Yes, God is in control.
  • Yes, God is with me.
The reality is this: Jesus wins, God is an expert at resurrections and raising new life, and my life story isn't finished yet.

And then I take a big breath, take a look at my life in light of eternity, and you know what? It's a pretty cool ride.
  • Bruce is safe and secure, he still loves me. I think he cheers me on.
  • I'm not on a hospital gurney: that gurney is a holy altar! (Romans 12:1,2) 
  • God's in control, He never fails or makes mistakes.
  • When there were times I wanted to die, I didn't because God knew He'd make me whole.
What choices do you face today?
ferree

19 comments:

  1. Ferree, this coincides with my re-reading Elisabeth Elliot's The Path of Loneliness. She says exactly that! We have to look at widowhood as a gift, then give that gift back to Him as our sacrifice of praise. It can only be done through acceptance of our situation as part of God's plan for our lives. Thank you so much for this post and for your ministry to widows.

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  2. I so needed to read/hear this today!!! Thank you! Blessings

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    1. Wow, that's so cool because when I posted it I really felt like God had it for someone special. I think it was you! Thank you! Blessings on you too Michelle!

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  3. Your post for August 1, I find deeply meaningful, and I agree it with so much. We are faced with choices, and it is only by surrendering to the Lord that we find meaning in our lives and the profound sacred gift he has given us, life.

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    1. "...the profound sacred gift he has given us, life." I love how you worded that. Widows have a deep realization of what a wonder each day holds. Thank you for sharing your gift with me today Linda! <3

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  4. Ferree,You expressed this very well. I think all if us as widows can identify with you. I too, felt cut in half. I had to make a choice then, and even now, to keep looking ahead and not behind me. It's a choice to move on, because it isn't natural.However, yes God has a plan for each of us, and if we turn to Him and allow Him, He'll guide us to it. God bless you?

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    1. Thank you Kathy, you are so right---these are not natural choices. Only God knows how we can make them, and then He helps and enables us to make them. I'm always amazed and feel privileged to see Him at work among widows and bringing them back to life. You're amazing!

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  5. Thank you for reminding me about Elisabeth Elliot's book. A dear friend recommended it to me a while ago but I've not taken the time to read it yet. (But God always repeats Himself when He wants to get something across to me so I need to read that book!) Your phrase "A sacrifice of praise" used to seem like an oxymoron to me---sacrifice speaking of loss, and praise speaking of blessing, but I've learned its a precious commodity in God's eyes. He will richly reward you for accepting your widowhood and following Him on this path of loneliness. Please keep me posted and know that many others invisibly link their arms to yours on this walk.

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  6. Thank you for unfolding the process for us in this share! So important for us to remember God desires us to live in the present and work through the present to serve in the present times and receive in this time. It's 8 months since my husband went to heaven after 3 years with ALS and sometimes I feel he had two deaths. Your words today were very encouraging! Remembering to lean into our journey brings us to fullness in Christ❤️

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  7. What a blessing you are! I really needed to read this today as I celebrate, yet again, my husband's birthday without him being here. Thank you for reminding me that I can choose to be a victim, or to be a living sacrifice for the Lord. Those techniques you shared are going to be so helpful, I can already tell! <3

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    1. Oh my goodness, talk about God's timing! I'm always amazed. Rebecca, may you know God's love and care for you, and the magnificent purpose He has for you on this very special day.

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  8. Love this -- as you and I have chatted about before, it really comes down to choices!

    As I had a bout of insomnia this week, out of the blue there were the memories that were taunting me to re-live those intense emotions of some of the hardest days I faced. When I turned those around into Thanksgiving for all that God is and all He's done for me, those huge crashing waves of emotion were calmed. I think of it as a "Peace be still" just for me.

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    1. Dear Elizabeth, You overcame those taunts and provide a perfect "How-to" turn them around. I'm sure it wasn't easy to praise and thank God in the middle of the storm but I'm very proud of you and what a blessing of peace the Lord gave you. Thanks for sharing and choosing to apply God's truth to those taunts.

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  9. Ferree. today's blog was one of the best I have read. You expressed so beautifully and accurately what I have experienced and also nudged us in the right direction of surrender to the Lord's will for us.

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    1. Joy, I was just wondering about you the other day. I'm happy to hear that you are experiencing the hope that choosing to surrender to God's will brings!

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  10. Another great column, Ferree. I'm always at how often what you share fits with what I've just written in my personal journal. Always encouraging.

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    1. Mrs. Mac, that's encouraging to know! God always gets his message across. Journaling is very therapeutic so you are getting a double benefit and more! It would be great to get together some day and compare our notes. :)

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  11. Newly widowed (less than 3 weeks),I stumbled onto this website and am hoping it will continue to minister to me as this posting has. I told someone today, that "Yes, I will be in church on Sunday, not because I am excited to worship, but because I choose to worship even if it is through tears of grief the entire service." How can I not worship the God who gave me my husband and is with him now? How can I not be thankful for the blessings of family and friends that God has given me to uphold me during this time? It isn't easy, sometimes I can't even breathe, and the emotions are still so raw. But, I am trying to do the God honoring thing, trusting it is healing my heart even when it doesn't feel like it. I look forward to your future posts.

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  12. Dear Linda, I'm so sorry for your loss, so recently, too. Thank you for the privilege of posting the tribute to your husband on the Memorial Wall here. And thank you for letting me know what a help this post was. I'll be praying for you. Your choices will go a long way to help you follow Christ through this, and He will never fail you. <3

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