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?
- Yes, God loves me.
- Yes, God knows.
- Yes, God is in control.
- Yes, God is with me.
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.