Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Weary Widow & A White Flag

It seems I've gotten yet another holiday season under my belt. My "holidays" run from Thanksgiving through my birthday. If I can be completely honest, I feel as if I've been spanked; yes, spanked. In many ways it was as hard as the first.

And, that caught me by surprise.

But apparently, it's "normal" for some years to be harder than others. "Normal"...yeh, there's nothing "normal" about the holidays for this worn-down, weary widow.

Weary. I had myself a weary little Christmas, weary little holidays, weary birthday. I've been asked for the last several weeks how my holidays were. I answered quickly, "they were okay, they were quiet." Apparently, that's not normal things to call holidays either. Sigh.

I finally feel like I'm digging out. I am glad to be in a new year...to good ol' 2013. But I can't fully embrace a new year without taking time to reflect on 2012...and my word for last year...


I started 2012 with a new song that quickly became one of my favorites, Passion's "White Flag." Singing it always brought images of my hands lifted high, holding a white banner, eyes lifted to heaven, freely giving myself to my Great God. Surrender.

When I chose the word release, I had no idea what that really meant I would surrender this year.

I let go of two big things tied to Tony. One was his Accord that I'd been driving. It was the same car Tony picked me up in on our first date, the car we rode away in on our wedding night. It carried a lot of memories, yet, it was needing more maintenance than this non-car dealing widow could handle. Plus, after experiencing first hand my friend totaling her car last January, I just could not bear the thought of something happening to Tony's car. I wanted to choose to let go. Last April, I drove it to the dealership; I drove away in a new white car, with his blue car in my rearview mirror. Release.

The second was our fixer-upper house we had bought just 2 months before Tony's fall. It quickly became the old ball-n-chain. No offense to my husband, but that house needed all of both of us to keep it afloat. The things I had to deal with over the last 2 and a half years, you just can't make that stuff up. It was put on the market in early August and sold in early October. Only God. I drove by one last time a couple days before closing; the phrase that came to mind was "shattered dream." Still, I felt a huge sense of relief and release of a burden. No regrets. Release.

In the midst of these 2 milestones, I began a program through our church called "Hope." It's one on one mentoring that led me through a process of rediscovering and redefining my identity in Christ. I had no idea how life-changing it would be. It's as if I came to the "other side" of my grief and to the end of myself. I was finally willing to deal with ME, my insecurities, my false beliefs that spring up when I'm trying to operate apart from Christ. It was ugly, sure, for these beliefs have been ingrained for decades. It's a work in progress, yet I continue to find an indescribable freedom in replacing what is false with the Truth of who I am in Christ. Release.

Still, there was an another battle waging war in my heart. And that's the one that really "spanked" me the most. I hit the 2 year mark of my grief last March and this sense of entitlement encroached. Can't I be happy now? Haven't I grieved enough? I don't want to be sad anymore. Can't I take control of the reins of my life? Haven't I earned that? I mean, culture would just wanna find a big bow to tie on my story and send me on my way. There were so many days I wanted that too.

So about halfway through the year, this hit me: "It's hard to surrender to what I can't see." So go the lyrics to yet another song that was a big part of my year, "Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real.

Surrender. God was calling me to surrender without seeing what's ahead. He was calling me to release my story, my future, my hopes and dreams, whether happy or sad, to Him...to the One who sees. Because He sees the bigger picture, the greater impact of my life fully surrendered to Him. I slowly opened my hands and my heart, and He used me in spite of my fear, my apprehension, my days when I told him bluntly that "I didn't sign up for this." He's so good like that. And the ways He's intersected my story with the lives of others over the past year, it's been nothing short of a beautiful collision.

And that, that, is what gives me the strength, the hope, the peace, to raise my white flag, to raise my banner, tattered and torn, to my great God to use for His Glory.


Dearly loved, with open hands,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fully Known...

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." ~ 1 Cor. 13:12

I longed for heaven yesterday. Yep, it was my birthday. I was overwhelmed all day by the outpouring of love from my family and friends; yet, there was a sadness I could not shake. I woke up to that same empty bed (of course, with the exception of sweet Ralphy!) and felt so very lonely. I missed the one who loved my birthday more than I did. I missed my life from 3 years ago, what would become my last birthday with my husband.

I miss him. I miss marriage. I miss us.

I am finally able to put into words what I miss most about marriage these days. For it's these very days that I find myself putting on my big girl pants quite often, walking into new situations, getting to know new people.

Sometimes, I'm downright terrified by it. I force myself to go anyway. I tell those closest to me how much I don't like it.

They remind me of how far my God has carried me on this journey of the last 2 and a half years. They prompt me to keep going.

Going. Going. Yet, feeling so unknown. Going with folks, being in a crowd of people, and yet feeling so very alone. It's as if I've got one foot in my new surroundings and the other in my circumstances of the last few years. It depends on the day, on the season, which side I choose.

Yet, when I do venture forward, I finding myself looking to make eye contact with someone, anyone, who can look back at me and know what I am thinking, know what I am feeling. Someone who can almost read my mind by the look in my eyes.

Someone who knows me fully. Someone with whom I am fully known.

And that, that very desire is what I miss most about marriage.

Sure, I miss Tony, I do. But I've accepted the fact that he's in the Ultimate Destination and he's not coming back. He's tasted and seen the Living God. He'd never choose to come back to this earth, even if he was given the opportunity. He's living it up in heaven. And that comforts me.

Still, I find myself missing the amazing gift of being married, of being one with another, of doing life with my husband. I miss being fully known by my one and only love.

Fully known, no matter the good or the bad. Fully known and accepted. Fully known and loved.

I want that again. I do. My marriage was such an amazing love story, how could I not desire to be married again? How could I not?

And yet, I'm fully aware that it doesn't happen overnight. It's a process. It can be a very long process. And that's just the finding. And there's no guarantee that I'll even find again. On top of that, getting to the place of being known fully is a lot of work, hard work, and vulnerability and courage. The sheer thought of it overwhelms me. It's too much.

Too much.

And that's when my God intervenes. That's when He reminds my fragile heart that He knows me fully. He knows me fully. In Him, I am fully known. In Him, I am never alone. And though I can't see the pieces and parts of my story ahead, He sees it. And even more than that, He's got a place waiting for me, not of this earth, where I can be forever, completely fully known.

Fully known.

Dearly loved,