Lifting and Leaving

Marilyn Nutter is guest posting to this site today.  Marilyn, a recent widow like us, has her own dilemmas to face and decisions to make as she steps out into her new life.  You can read more from Marilyn at  I first met Marilyn online after submitting a devotion to her for her Devotional called Penned from the Heart.  We clicked and I know you will click with Marilyn as well.

Widowhood brings new decisions, and one of mine has been to put my house on the market. My realtor arranged for a stager to tour my house and see which things should be removed and adjusted so buyers see my house in the best light. She moved the angle of a carpet in my half-bathroom (an interesting detail that made a difference), removed some curtains to let more light in, shifted décor so that the eye went to the right place, and recommended that I clear out a closet to reduce clutter.

I got to work on the closet. I sorted and purged; packed things in bins and boxes and made two trips to Goodwill. I rented a storageImage unit, loaded my vehicle and moved the boxes into a climate controlled unit.

Looking, thinking, lifting, moving, giving. It proved to be a good exercise for me.

The closet looks better. I feel better. I’m optimistic that my house will sell in God’s timing and that He will move me to the right house.

I often see the application of spiritual truths from object lessons in every day living. This was one of those times.

As the name of this blog suggests, widowhood is more than grief of our husband’s death. From day one, facing life in the new status of “single”, our burdens vary: single decisions without the benefit of shared wisdom;  “my” plans, not “ours”; new choices; learning new skills; fatigue; financial adjustments; new friendships; not “fitting in” in former activities; loneliness; change. No two widows face their new life in the same way. Circumstances, marriages, and personalities are unique, but it is safe to say that “change” is a label for each woman. Sometimes it is overwhelming.

 So I got to work (alone), packed boxes, loaded my vehicle and drove to the storage unit. I punched in the code to enter and the gate opened.  I unlocked the first door, unloaded and took the boxes to my unit. I turned the key on the padlock and stacked my boxes. I pulled down the door, locked the unit and the exit door, got into my vehicle, used the access code to exit, and drove away.

It was a process to be sure.

The boxes were heavy.

Sometimes I pushed the bins down the corridor because they were heavy.

I left my boxes there.

I made several trips.

I felt lighter.

It was productive.

I accomplished something good even though my muscles (and at times, my heart) hurt.

That evening I took some time to rest.

As I reflected on that day, I saw a parallel to my widowhood journey.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 If I want my house to sell, I had to present it in the best light. That meant making adjustments and following the recommendations of the stager and realtor. In a sense, they invited me to “come” and “take” their suggestions and “learn” the best way to present my house to others. I cleaned and then packed, lifted boxes and bins and left them in the storage unit.

Now with reduced clutter and rearrangement, it’s the same house, but it looks different.

The Lord invites us to “come” and “take” our burdens to Him; to spend time and “learn” from Him and find His rest.

Our widowhood journey is a process of looking, thinking, lifting, moving, and giving. It takes several trips. We often take two steps forward only to find we take one backward. Sometimes we push because our emotional, physical or mental energy is nearly depleted.  Regardless, I find that when I come, take and learn, He gives me rest. One of God’s promises I rely on daily is:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23 (NIV)

Our widowhood is irreversible. Our status is the same yesterday as today. It’s the same house, so to speak, but His compassions are renewed for us each day. In giving myself to come, learn, and take, He removes distractions and doubt and gives focus with His light. The burdens are lighter when I give them over to His wisdom and care, and His faithfulness is my companion.  It’s the same house but I look different. I have more light.

Let’s Have a Dream

Tomorrow – Staying in the moment is wise counsel, not fearing tomorrow’s troubles is good advice.  But, being open to tomorrow is necessary.  We must hold on to the fact we have a future, we just don’t have a clear picture of it yet – not that we ever did, but we had plans and dreams.

This week during my early morning time with God I was beginning to get a better idea of what He wanted for my life.  I was starting to see His plan and His dreams for me. The words in the devotional book I was reading touched my spirit.  “Do not be afraid to enter the cloud descending on your life, for God is in it.”dreams

I can’t count the number of times during this season of grief that God comforted or counselled me through the words in this book. “I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV) I may be in a cloud of grief, pain and uncertainty, but God is right there with me.  I can feel His presence.

Plans and Dreams – Getting back to plans and dreams.  About two years in to my state of widowhood I began to realize that I did not have any dreams, nothing in the future to look forward to. That wasn’t because I was so caught up in Dave’s death that I didn’t want to live; no, it was because my dreams were our dreams, they are now history.  

I came to the conclusion I needed to have my own visions of tomorrow.  I need a new fresh reason to get out of bed in the morning. It is the perfect time to follow my heart, to stick close to God and seek out new experiences.  There is joy to be found in this new life I am living.  There is excitement to embrace and a New Beginning to explore.

Grace ‘n Grins

Streams in the Desert

 Streams in the Desert is the book I refer to above.  You can read here.

Grieving with Grace

The title of this blog, Widowhood – so much more than grief, suggests there are many facets of grief.  Each one of us experiences grief differently and we walk through this haze with varying degrees of angst.  The variation comes in the way we grieve, the memories we have stockpiled over the years and the experiences we shared.  Differing personalities come in to play as do family dynamics.  Moreover, we don’t grieve alone.  Our friends, co-workers and family members also grieve our loss.

The widows group I mentioned in my last blog post has been a great source of comfort.  choose joyThe comfort comes from knowing we are not alone in our grief. We share an understanding, a common bond which gives us the right to let the tears flow when we are together. This group is learning to laugh again and even speak of the laughter that used to be part of living.  We also talk about the guilt we feel because we fear what others think.

The reality is people watch us.  Some scrutinize with a critical eye, deciding on their own when enough should be enough.  Some tell of conversations with friends who admonish our behavior saying, “It is time you get over it. He’s been dead a year already.  Besides, you know he is in a better place.”  Nods of agreement around the room confirm this.  We have all been assaulted with this type of comment.

On the other side of the coin there are those who think our memory of our spouse is fading too fast.  We are smiling too quickly. Even going out to dinner and a movie with friends offends them. It isn’t easy, but to everyone who has an opinion about how I grieve I say boldly, “Mind your own business. If the day comes you are in this situation, come to me and we’ll have a conversation.”

It is so good to come together each week and just talk.  We have no particular agenda, we simply share our lives.  Memories will arise, tears will fall, and always the Grace of God fills the room. His presence is apparent when hugs from Heaven are experienced within the arms of one another.

Each of us understands that life is different now.  When grief is fresh, we cannot see a future with any joy.  By spending time with others who have walked this road for a few years, we know there is hope that tomorrow will be better.  Today smells of stale winter air, but there is a fresh fragrance almost within reach.  Spring is nearing. Get ready to throw open the windows!

John 16:20 (NIV) I tell you the truth; you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

Grace ‘n Grins,