Words of Wisdom Nuggets Part 3 “Suffering is Universal!”


 

I look forward to the weekly Bible Study I’ve been attending now for several weeks.  As I share highlights, I trust you’ll receive even a little ray of what I’m able to glean. One thing I’ve learned is you can never be too far into your widowhood to receive a blessing from fellowship with other Christian widows, and you also are never beyond learning about any subject.

The topic for the third week was suffering. A beautiful book was read during this session and will be in the following session:  My Beautiful Broken Shell written by Carol Hamblet Adams. I shared a portion in my last posting. It’s well worth  reading that post if you haven’t done so. If you’re interested in purchasing that little book of hope, it’s available on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/My-Beautiful-Broken-Shell-Refresh/dp/0736908706.) No matter how broken we are, how much we’ve suffered or are suffering, God will give us strength to continue on if we allow Him. (The author is also a speaker and her information can be found online, as well.) http://carolhambletadams.com/speaking/

No one can live this life without experiencing suffering in some way. Continue reading

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Wisdom for Widows


Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment. Solitude is not first a place but a state of mind and heart.

(Richard Foster “The Celebration of Discipline”)

In my last posting I shared some “nuggets” I learned from the first week of a Bible study called Wisdom for Widows. Today I’m continuing with the second week of the same study. This week’s topic was Isolation.

Let’s review that first week’s theme to give the acronym from which the study was created:

W idows – Comprehend the Bible’s portrayal of God’s heart for the widow

I solation – Learn how to face the biggest obstacle – Loneliness

S uffering

 

D ecision Making                                                                                                                                 O vercoming                                                                                                                          M arriage

F orgiveness                                                                                                                                             O pportunities                                                                                                                                       R elationships

W ealth                                                                                                                                                               I ntercession                                                                                                                                                                     D ifferences                                                                                                                                                    O rganization                                                                                                                                                   W orship                                                                                                                                                     S ervice

Information taken from “Wisdom for Widows” by Mary Ann Kuechler

 

Sometimes widows tend to think of themselves as the only lonely people. However, there are many people in lonely situations. Along with the widows and widowers, those divorced and/or separated from their spouses deal with the same loneliness.

Did you ever stop to think that even some married people have no real relationship and still live lonely lives? If we really take a look around us and study others, we’ll see there are many who live in isolation. There are latch-key children, teens who just don’t “fit” in, immigrants, many homeless people, prisoners, and those who have never married. Even those in Christian service can find themselves leading lonely lives. Illness can separate us from others. Did you know we are one of 800,000 in our ranks as of today? I certainly didn’t know that, and I realize now I’m not the only one who’s alone.

It would be too much to try to share everything discussed in the study this week, but I’ll review some nuggets meant particularly for widows.  In our situation, we know the cause of our loneliness is the loss of our spouse.

Some women in their loneliness choose to keep themselves from others. This decision by itself isn’t good. Often the pain of loss keeps one from going out and about, which only adds to the isolation. Choosing solitude as a way of life and staying away from others on a consistent basis is a wrong choice.

However, choosing to be away from others for solitude and meeting with God is a spiritual discipline we all need. Some of us choose to go on silent retreats such as I have written about in a prior blog. Spending time with God, reading His word, and talking to Him are all spiritual assets and help in healing. It should be a part of our daily routine. When we spend extended time alone thinking only about our loss and not feeding our soul and spirit encouragement, we add depression to our lives. Time spent reliving what we once had with our spouses and what we no longer have will expand our feeling of isolation. “Loneliness is always a negative experience while solitude is often positive and renewing. “ (J. Oswald Sanders “facing Loneliness” p15)

It’s true that widows face challenges they had no idea they would face. Most of us don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet or repair a broken hinge on a door, to mention only a few things. Some of us had never even hung a picture alone!  When we face these everyday things, it certainly can make us aware that we’re “alone.” Eating alone, going places alone and handling finances are just some of the things that add to isolation.

In our study, Wisdom for Widows, we discussed seven “cures” for overcoming loneliness:

  • You need to know, and accept yourself for who you are NOW. Know yourself. I had to learn that I was no longer part of the couple, “Phil and Kathy.” Widows are no longer married women, the other half of someone. I had to learn who I really am. The reality of who we were does not resemble who we are now. This doesn’t happen overnight. I remember the day that I realized that I’d become just “Kathy.”
  • Move from living FOR the dead to living WITHOUT the dead. This sounds harsh, but we do have to learn to live beyond our deceased loved one. I learned what “I” liked to do, which was sometimes different from I did as a married couple. Someone in our group said she likes to listen to different music than her husband did, and now she does. There are little things you may start to change in your life, and that’s all right. Give yourself permission to do so.
  • To face the most difficult times you need to form a plan. One lady shared that Saturdays was always her hardest day. Her husband had always planned that day, and they did things together either at home or away from home. After her husband passed away, Saturday came and she had no idea what to do, adding to her loneliness. She started making a list the night before of what she would do that day.  In fact, that’s a great idea for every day. Before you go to bed, plan the following day.  It gives you a purpose to rise each day and helps you not to wander aimlessly, feeling lost. One lady suggested leaving a paper and pencil in every room. When you’re in the room and you notice things you want to do, or should do, you can jot them down and have a reminder of these things. It was also mentioned by one lady that she couldn’t handle going to weddings alone. She learned to ask if she could bring a friend or even her niece. This allowed her to not sit alone and helped to alleviate feeling lonely or left out. Maybe you would want to ask someone to go grocery shopping with you or walking with you. Whatever you find the hardest to deal with, develop a plan.
  • Find someone needier than yourself and reach out to them. Write letters to lonely people such as prisoners or someone who can’t get out of the house. Go visit a neighbor or take a meal to someone if you have enough energy. (Grieving takes a lot of energy). Pick up the phone and call someone who’s alone or suffering. Look for opportunities.
  • Develop new relationships or renew old relationships. This can be difficult. I found that as I reached out to other widows, I, in turn, gained new friends. As you heal, you may want to start a small widow’s group. I’ve found that even though the fifth anniversary of my widowhood is approaching, the fellowship of other widows is very special for me. There is a common bond. We glean from one another. It’s a good way to develop those new relationships. I always say, “No one understands a widow better than another widow.”
  • Don’t live in denial. Sometimes a widow doesn’t want to face the death of her husband, and she postpones her grieving. However, this just delays the grieving process and eventually makes it even more painful.
  • Face your pain and don’t run from it. Grieving is painful, and the crying that goes with it is unwanted. Some widows run from allowing themselves to experience it. If you’re running away from your pain, you must turn around and face it. God gave us our tears to release our grief.

Remember, being a widow does get better, but it’s never the same. Learn to be the captain of your life. And, most important, reach out and be a comfort to others, and you will, in turn, be helping yourself to remove your loneliness.

“Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.”

Psalm 25:16

God bless you,

Kathy

 

 

What If


When I became a widow, I started my blog to reach out to others such as myself. However, I feel all encouragement we share with each other can be helpful, regardless of who or what we are grieving.

On Jan 2nd, 1996, our beloved son, Matthew went home to be with the Lord. He and his girlfriend were killed in an automobile accident during a snowstorm. Recently, I came across a letter that my sister wrote to me the following March. She too knows profound loss. Her precious daughter went home with the Lord after losing her battle with Leukemia shortly after turning five.

My sister starts the letter by saying:

It is only natural for our minds to look back and to think of all the “what if’s,” even in the future. “What if” they were here with us now? But they aren’t. Thinking, “what if” is futile. We can’t help but wonder and question. Of course, we will always miss them and selfishly wish they were here with us again. Our perfect will for their lives was never realized, and now it never will be. But how fearsome for any of our children to be living outside God’s perfect will for their lives. And so we have to obediently submit, although it is painful. It is bittersweet.

God understands our human feelings and feels sorry for us. He gives us His word to reassure and comfort us. We need to return it to our minds often in order to turn our thinking around and bring it back to where “the joy of the Lord can be our strength.” We always pray for His help. Even when we don’t know what we need, he knows.

The problem that could develop would be we could allow ourselves to remain stuck in reverse and nurse our regrets or bitterness. If we dwell on our “what if’s,” that is, our questions and our longings for things to be the way they once were, Satan gets a foothold and uses the tool of discouragement to disable us. Satan wants to keep us down. Christ wants to lift us up.

I know it doesn’t seem fair that it is even possible for us to maintain our sanity and go on living…for life to go right on…for our world to develop a new normal. But a hard fact of life is that it marches on. It is cruel and ironic but true.

We need to use God’s tool of His Word to survive intact and keep pace with life. We need to find a few helpful verses and write them down and dwell on them whenever we need to. We need to use His Words to help ourselves gain the ability to purposefully and forcefully take ourselves by the shoulders and turn ourselves around again and again.

It is natural for us to stumble and fall and keep looking backward for those who are no longer with us. Picture yourself on a rocky trail. Imagine trying to walk on it when you are crying and looking out for someone you have lost from the trail. How hard it would be!

It is not natural, but necessary, for us to keep picking ourselves up, applying the salve of God’s Word, turning ourselves around, and forcing ourselves to continue on ahead. With time, it gets easier; however, while it is still hard we need to keep forcing ourselves.

We too would have ordered something different for your lives.

Cling to Him. There are times He picks us up and moves us farther along the trail.

God always carries us through the trials; He never leaves us stuck in the middle.

I hope sharing this letter encouraged you as much as it did me, both then and now.

God bless you.

Does Time Really Heal All Wounds?


According to Jim Berg, a pastor and author whom I heard preach, time does not heal all wounds.

Have you ever had a deep cut or wound that took forever to heal and when it did, the scar remained sensitive? I have a scar like that. It has been healed for 20 years or more yet; if I bump that area; yet, it still hurts.

When we lose a loved one, it leaves a deep wound. Years later there will still be some things that can bring the hurt back to the surface. That hurt is a reminder that things are not as they used to be.  Healing is when we are restored to normal function.

A deep cut or wound requires a lot of care. Sometimes either it requires stitches, salve, and maybe even a dressing.

It’s the same with our soul. We need a lot of care for our souls for a very long time. We nurture it by reading God’s Word, by prayer, and by reaching out to others. Wounded people can help others to heal. If we look around us, we can see many hurting people. This, in turn, works as a balm to our own souls. I know as I reach out to others, it helps me to feel useful and it helped me to realize that I’m not alone with my grief.

I’d like want to share with you the following that is also from Jim Berg:

The greatest loss in the entire universe was God’s loss of the fame, allegiance, worship, and obedience. He deserved when we in Adam joined Satan in defacing His image in us. We can’t adequately overcome the effects of our own personal losses unless we see them as a part of this bigger picture. We must allow ourselves to see Satan’s intent behind our losses, and we must turn to Christ for comfort, for instruction, and for the enabling to once again reflect God. Yes, even in the midst of our losses.

As I listened to this pastor speak, I realized what he was saying was true. We can’t fully move on in our grief until we realize this world is not the way God intended it to be. It is because we now live in a fallen world that we must suffer these losses and afflictions.

No, it’s not true that time heals all wounds, but with service to God, depending on Him, and reaching out to others, we can move on and continue to be a contented Christian… even in our grief.

May God richly bless you as you trust in Him.