Monday, June 28, 2010

"You’ll Just Have to Find Something Else to be Afraid of.”

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day.
1 Chronicles 11:22

Years ago, long before I was widowed, before I was even married to Tom, life threw a huge dose of pain my way.  A marriage I thought was going to last me a lifetime went into a tailspin when an anonymous caller tipped me off to my first husband’s affair.

At that horrible moment, I would never have imagined how the Lord was preparing the way for a new life, a new marriage, and strengthening me for a far deeper loss by teaching me never to fear being alone.

My first reaction was to drop the receiver and dash out of my office into the cool October air to catch my breath.

I didn’t stop there. I got in my car and drove away, beating back tears.  With nowhere to go, I stopped at a phone booth and called Joyce—my no-nonsense, stay cool through any storm friend.

I sobbed over the betrayal.  “This is my worst fear and now it’s happened!”

There was a pause on the other end while I knew Joyce prayed over what words to use.   The ones that slipped off her tongue might strike you as uncaring or rude, but they were perfect. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to find something else to be afraid of.”

I wiped my tears and let her words sink in.  All those years I tried to be the best wife to that man, but secretly harbored a sense that he had one foot out the door.  Was I making every decision to please him out of faith or fear?  What wasted time and effort!  Had I faced my fear and stopped placating to him, he might have respected me more and considered changing his heart towards making a strong marriage.  Or maybe not, but at least I would have been operating as the complete woman God made me to be and not have a nagging feeling that my jellyfish spine had something to do with my marriage falling apart.

Now, without Tom, I never want to avoid my worst fears and set myself up for future regret.

When people ask “what’s your worst fear?” Some think of loss or trauma, but if we’re honest, sometimes it isn’t the big stuff that we fear the most.  After all, as widows, we’ve already experienced some of the worst. Our real fears are rooted in insecurity, wondering if we’re good enough or accepted.

When Joyce told me I need to find something else to be afraid of, I chose God.  I never wanted anything in life to shake me to the core like the betrayal from my first husband did.  I wanted to be absolutely positive that I knew who I was at the core of my being so that whatever is going on around me, I still feel accepted, cherished, powerful.

And I do.  Oh, the deceiver tries to scare that sense of confidence away, but I know the signs of his presence.  It’s that gnawing anxiety….  I’m alone, I’m overwhelmed, my kids don’t have a father. Are they getting what they need?

In my bible lessons this week I learned about a great soldier of David’s named Benaiah.  He was courageous.  Courage means doing what needs to be done in spite of your fears. Can you imagine the fear he had to overcome to get into a snowy pit and kill a lion with his bare hands?
So back to anxieties.  When they whirl, I say…


These are feelings.  They aren’t truth.  I stop, and I refocus on Scripture.  On truth.  I am incredible and loved in the Lord.  Through Him, I’m unstoppable, because He does all I can’t.  He will be the father of my boys, my husband.  He cherishes me and loves me and I will respond with obedience.  I will ignore the anxious thoughts—endure them as a sort of pain like a steady leg cramp and get to work… one foot in front of the other.  I will act accordingly to His grace. I will do all those things I would do as if I were loved and cherished, not because I feel loved or cherished but because I know I am loved and cherished.  It’s truth, and I believe it, so my feet and hands and mouth follow my beliefs, in spite of any lingering anxiety the deceiver tosses at me.

I stop pacing the house and do what I'm asked to do. Clean up my office, get back into the Word, spend time with the kids. Sometimes it's just grabbing a deck of cards and hanging out with the boys.  I pull out five bibles—one for each of us, put on some Christian music, and have quiet reading time in the Word with the boys followed by prayers.

And guess what, the boys LOVE it.  “Thanks, Mom.  Can we do this every day?”  My heart fills with centered clean joy.  I’m back.  I remembered who I am.

The world sees widow, but when I remember who I am, in that moment, I’m not the pitiful widow. I’m Kitty, a woman of God.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brother's Day

It's Father's Day.  Around our home that means Brother's Day.   We started this tradition after we lost Tom a few years ago.  Our first Father's Day without him was difficult, but we made the best of it by making cards and letters expressing our feelings for him and getting out in the beautiful sunshine to enjoy the type of things that Dad used to do with us.

When the second Father's Day rolled around, I figured it was time for a fresh approach. We came up with Brother's Day. Here's how it works.  I let the boys sleep in while I prepare their Brother's Day breakfast in bed.  This morning it was french toast with sausages and OJ.

The breakfast trays are prepared with colorful messages from me with one particular character trait each one has shown in the past year that reminds me of their father.

And finally, I write a letter to each one of the children explaining that character trait, how I saw it shown in the past year, and how their father had that same trait in him.

My boys are beginning to look forward to Father's / Brother's Day, and I pray that it inspires them to earn their rights to have Father's Day breakfasts in bed when they are old enough to rear a family God's way!

We're not done after breakfast.  They boys consider our chocolate lab puppy a brother too, so after church we're off to a hike with the dog.

Church on Father's Day is always tough on a widow.  I'll most likely choose to sit near the back and step outside when I feel myself missing the presence of a husband in the home.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Widow Ruth

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:4.

Sometimes thriving in life as a widow means listening to how God wants you to participate in His divine nature.  It’s different for each of us because a widow’s walk is never carved in stone.  The Lord asks some of us to weather it quietly—grieving and accepting the loss as your heart allows you to—one step at a time. The Lord sometimes asks us to move forward boldly, letting go of fear so that through our boldness, we protect the younger ones He has put in our care from the corruption in the world.

When the Lord leads you to step forward boldly, you might have fear over what the world thinks of you as you move forward and lead your own life into the future without leaning on an earthly husband.  I think of the widow, Ruth, and her obedience to the Lord and how it led to bold steps on her part, choosing to remain with her mother-in-law, choosing to gather grain behind the harvesters in Boaz’s fields, and presenting herself to Boaz in a humble but brazen gesture to petition him to claim her as his wife.
Ruth was brave, and yet so loved by the Lord for her obedience that He blessed her by allowing the bloodline of His only Son to run through her.

Imagine how fear could grip a woman in her situation faced with deciding whom to align herself with, how to provide for herself, and whether to pursue a new marriage.  As a widow, you might feel it too.  Widowhood can be a life full of fear if you allow yourself to get overwhelmed.

I’m reminded today to stop fear in its tracks for it is not from the Lord. I consider what my pastor told me after he took three of my sons on a Gettysburg Father-son retreat. He reassured me that decisions I’ve made since Tom has died have been good ones, evidenced by a Christ awareness my kids displayed on that trip with him.  He told me my children seem to have no trouble going against the grain of the world.  In other words, under my leadership which came straight from the guidance of the Lord, for the time being, they have escaped “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”.

The Lord sometimes speaks through the words of blessings from others, and my pastor’s words were well-timed at a moment when I felt overwhelmed. I marvel at their progress, because many times my decisions go against the grain of this world, to the point of coming under scrutiny of others who aren’t sure what to think when a widow steps out in boldness. Some don’t understand that my choices are not my own. I’ve allowed the Lord to lead.

Sometimes people of the world want to tell you how as a widow you’ve been beaten. You’ve suffered loss. You’re supposed to recoil, curl up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself.

There is that place where you need to be alone and recover.  And sometimes that can take a while, but there was a point after Tom died where the Lord told me, grieve but don’t recoil. Break free. Burst forth in radiance because my four boys will watch and follow. They will be marked forever in their souls by the choices I make as a widow.

They will either see themselves as victims or see themselves as stepping forward by following and staying safely inside the Eye of the storm—accepting that what Satan doles out with the intention of evil, God takes and turns around for His Glory.

If you feel a prompting in your heart to follow a purpose the Lord has laid out for you, I encourage you to pray about it.  Don’t let fear stop you. Let the peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit prevail over you.  He will lead you.  It’s His great and precious promise.