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Finding a New Normal: I didn’t have to be a Super-Widow
Finding a New Normal:
I had just turned 19, and I had no idea that I was about to be confronted with a defining moment in my life. A complete stranger said to me,
Apparently John had pointed me out to his colleague, and said,
He had a plan for me, and because I cooperated, it included a future, and a hope. It was supposed to last forever or at least until we were both in our nineties. However it ended 3 years ago when cancer took his body, and he started his new life in heaven way ahead of schedule.
Ever since I was a little girl I had hoped to be a teacher and to be married. Both of these dreams were realized very early on. Neither one was without its challenges, but they were both a very good fit for who I was. I loved being John’s wife, and I loved teaching people. I stopped teaching school when I was 26, but I found volunteer opportunities where I could teach adults, and I enjoyed that even more. Then, for the last 14 years, John and I had teamed up to bring marriage seminars to couples across Canada.
Living half a life
Soon after his passing, someone asked me,
Without stopping to think, I answered,
At least that is how I felt. Did I still have a meaningful future? What was left to hope for?
John and I had both accepted the fact that when Jesus had died on the cross, he had done it so we could be freed to live forever with him in heaven. That future and that hope were a wonderful comfort. But for many months, the temptation was to believe that my real life here was over.
Since people soon wanted to know how I was coping, it was easy to conclude that learning to cope was essential. I had to keep earning a living, so I showed up at work. I had to have people in my life, so I kept going to church. I accepted pretty well every invitation that was extended to me . I lived one day at a time and even though it was like I was in a fog, doing only the “next thing” that I had to do, I felt I was coping quite well.
Joy and pain can co-exist
What I didn’t expect was that extreme pain and extreme joy could co-exist. I didn’t know that God also had his eye on me and he was going to court me so I would fall in love with him in a totally new way.
One day I awoke with a song on my mind. I wanted to know what it was, so I sang along with the melody. I realized that it was an old hymn. The words were,
Overwhelmed, I wept at this message of his love, and also because of the love for God that swept over me in response.
Another day, I was listening to a speaker telling us to ask God some questions. He suggested, “Ask God how he sees you right now”. Again I was shocked by the unexpected, for immediately in my mind, I saw a visual of me in the shape of a heart, complete with eyes, arms and legs, but the heart was split almost in two, with jagged edges.
I kept puzzling about why this had occurred until one morning, two days later. I could almost hear God saying, 'If you didn't know it was broken, how could you ask me to heal it?'
Wounds do heal with time, but breaks don't heal properly unless a physician attends to them and sets them first. Then came the question,
What a good question! There were times later when I would think that dying might have been a better alternative. But I decided I did.
God began that day by carefully putting his hands around my heart and holding the jagged edges together. Breaks, whether in the bone or in the heart, don’t heal without the touch of a physician. God is often referred to as “the Great Physician” and that day he set my heart so it could heal.
Finding a new “normal”
I knew that my life would never be “normal” again. Normal was living with John, laughing with him and eating meals at a table set for two. But in time there would be a new normal. There was hope that eventually I would stop feeling like a stranger in my own life.
Over a year later when I felt there was still so much weakness, I worked up the courage to ask God another question. I wondered if I had made any progress. The words that kept coming to me were,
I was neither ahead or behind of God’s schedule. I was right where I was supposed to be. There is so much comfort in that. God had not forgotten me.
I was amazed. God wasn’t looking for my performance. I didn’t have to be super-widow. He didn’t want me to cope; to self-medicate my pain; or even to just wait for it to go away. He said he would take care of it, and he is doing that. My part is to let him.
Now at the end of my third year into this journey, he is showing me that I am not too bad at functioning alone. My car still runs, and I haven’t burned my house down. He is showing me that there is life after death. Like before, I sometimes take two steps forward and three steps back, but his amazing acceptance and his love gifts have not stopped. He has kept me safe and healthy, and six months ago he gave me a new granddaughter to love!
These words that I found on a card say it best.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in the book of Jude 1:21 (LB) where it says,
Do you know the Great Physician who sets broken hearts and holds them while they heal? And if you do, are you letting Him love You? If your world is crashing around you, if you look in the mirror and see and unfamiliar life staring back at you, there is hope.
Joy and pain can co-exist. You can find peace and even joy in midst of your circumstances by relying on the promises of Christ and beginning a personal relationship with Him.
When we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will experience His peace in our lives. You can know this peace today.
You can know peace and hope tonight. There is a line in an old hymn that says
Whether that means peace on a worldwide scale or peace in your own heart, it can begin with you right now. John 3:16 tells us that God loves the world so much that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for us so that everyone who believes in Him can have everlasting life.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here's a suggested prayer:
If you sincerely expressed that prayer to God, you can know that you have a personal relationship with Him. He will be your comfort in these troubled times. God promises us "peace that passes understanding" in other words peace in a world that doesn't make sense. You can know peace and hope even when your world is in turmoil. God does not change. Ever.
*After being a widow for several years, Ev married Jim Roth in August, 2008.