Earlier this week, big problems and small annoyances were mounting up and irritating me, but the bigger issue was deeper. Underlying my frustration was the reality of being a widow.
You see, the hardship of this journey is still the same as it was five years ago when it was fresh. Yes, I am more acclimated to life without John, but it doesn’t change the fact that I carry life alone. The Lord encourages me daily, but the relentless, everyday pressure, work, and loneliness of doing life without him is hard. And it isn’t going away.
Stuff breaks, and it isn’t my skill set to fix it.
Decisions have to be made, and, though I have friends and family who listen and give insights, they aren’t really “in it” with me. Their lives aren’t actually impacted by the decisions. My trouble isn’t theirs to carry.
Our kids have tough times, and I don’t necessarily know how to navigate it with them. As they get older, the issues are getting more complex and far-reaching. It is a heavy responsibility to be the only parental voice in their lives, especially when I know John’s wisdom and perspective would be incredibly insightful. Some days I get angry, frustrated and despairing that he isn’t here and they only have me. I know I am not enough.
And, I simply miss the daily encouragement of having John in my life. It is an aspect of marriage I didn’t even appreciate or comprehend until it was gone. In a good marriage, it is energizing to know you have someone doing life with you. It is a huge motivator that helps you push through tough stuff knowing their love and presence will be the highlight at the end of any long day.
Some days, being a widow just. gets. tiring. (I bet you get tired of your pain too.)
This week began with one of those really hard days. In fact, I started to spiral downward in a self-pity free fall. As I walked across a parking lot hiding tears behind my sunglasses, a stranger’s genuine smile appeared out of nowhere. Eye to eye.
The smile arrested me. I got into my car shaking my head, “Lord, I am falling apart today. Help me. I am losing my perspective, my hope.”
And, He did. The last few hours of the day were filled with His goodness. Encouraging things happened. My spirit rose. My son noticed my heavy heart and loved me with a tender hug and extra help around the house. A difficult situation with my daughter resolved well, better than either of us could have imagined.
As I got into bed that night, I was talking to the Lord about it all. It had been an emotional roller coaster kind of day. I sensed Him quieting my heart with truth.
Nothing is ever going to change the fact that being a widow is a tough, hard, sad reality. It means death has robbed life. God hates widowhood. He hates that my kids don’t have their dad. He isn’t going to spin being a widow into a blessing. When I say I hate it. It is ok. He hates it too. There are things about it that are uniquely, permanently painful.
Somehow, in those moments I felt validated in my frustration with life as a widow. I am not supposed to like this reality. I am not supposed to be working really hard to make a bad thing into a good thing. That can never happen because something that is intrinsically bad can’t be redefined as good.
Many of you have things in your life that are sad. That are hard. Brokenness abounds in this life: Sickness. Injustice. Poverty. Abuse. Betrayal. Pain. Abandonment.
God agrees with you that the wrongs in your life are wrong. Period.
Read that again. God agrees with you that hard things are really, truly hard and heartbreaking.
And, He did something about it. He was moved to action.
He moved heaven to conquer hell. He sent His own Son to face the sin and sorrow of our lives. Jesus surrendered his life so we could have peace with God and hope for our lives, no matter what sufferings we have to bear.
God doesn’t turn away or keep His distance. Instead, He draws near us with promises to be our comfort, strength, and defender. He will stand with us against all these things, and He can bring beauty and peace and hope despite the brokenness. And, ultimately, He will make all things right.
So, you and I can rest. We don’t have to keep fighting to make bad things somehow good. We don’t have to fake it to make it. We don’t have to do more yoga or go on more vacations. Or try to power through with positive thinking. Or sleep more. Or entertain and distract ourselves from sun-up to sundown. Ever moving faster to block out pain.
Instead, we can trust Him to come alongside us; agree with us that sin and sorrow in this life are terrible realities; and bring us to the deep peace of understanding all that Jesus Christ has done for us. Jesus gives us the healing and hope we need most.
I love how Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Notice that He doesn’t say that the cause of our mourning is good, but that we will find a special solace in being comforted by God.
I have known this comfort in the past five years, and it is the best kind of comfort- genuine, quiet, steady, joyful, gentle, truthful, never forced. No one and nothing can surpass His ability to comfort our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. He lets me be real in my mourning whenever it hits. And He loves me there.
So, my prayer and hope for you is that you don’t run away from the hard in your life but that you bring it to the One who will patiently, lovingly, powerfully meet you where you are and give you strength and hope to trust Him as you keep. moving. forward.
Trusting one day at a time,