He heals the wounds of every shattered heart. - Psalm 147:3
It's so raw watching yourself become a whole new person...
I sit in awe of the woman that grief and death created. Sure, I still have days where I grieve the girl I was before, but I'm really in awe of who I am now.
When your life gets turned upside down, it gets turned inside out too - especially when you lose a spouse. Everything changes. From the way you schedule your day down to the things you 'did' as a couple.
You have to relearn who YOU are.
Who am I now?
Who do I want to be in the future?
What do I need to do to create that person?
It's a lot of questions you ask yourself from the smallest to the biggest of things. The beauty though is really found when you start to answer them.
Do I like my eggs cooked this way? No, let's find a new way. Maybe you find you didn't like eggs at all anymore.
Do I like to make my bed every morning? Yes.
Do I really want to watch that football game? (depends on who's playing)
Do I really need all this stuff in my house?
Do I really need all this stuff on my calendar?
Do I need a glass of wine with dinner every night?
How do I want to parent?
How do I want to show up in this world?
Am I really confident that I can do this?
What is it like to be on the other side of me?
Where do I stand with my faith?
What do I believe about God?
All of these questions and so many more are necessary. When you start to take a real hard look at your life as it was, but also, how do you want it to be going forward? For the record, it doesn't have to be death that gives you permission to do this. You can do this at any point in your life. You have the choice to stop and say, this isn't who I want me to be, and you can change it all up. All I ask, is that if you do this, do it well.
'All I had' was Jesus, and that my friends, was enough.
I've been reflecting back a lot these last two weeks over my journals and some things that have come up for me - and as I do, I find myself needing to bring them out of my journals and start taking real hard looks at them. This is the 'dirty stuff' they don't tell you much about in 'the books'. You know, all the ones written about grief, and becoming a widow. But that wording - becoming a widow - is really where it started with me. I immediately felt like I had to take on this identity of a widow, when in reality all God wanted was for me to take on the identity the he had already claimed for me.
So instead of wallowing as a widow, I found strength in knowing that God had all of this prepared for me. He knew I'd struggle with who I was. He knew I'd ask why. He knew I'd worry about literally everything. ...and yet, he provided. His loving hands held me and dished out provision time and time again, including (especially) all the questions I'd ask myself about who am I?
Who do I want to be, now?
It's so curious to me how quickly I started asking myself these questions - but really, when your husband dies, do you have a choice? I suppose so, but I knew right away I couldn't let myself go down in the deep dark places. I knew that in allowing this to happen that I would fail. I would fail at grief, I would fail at being a strong mom for my kids, I would just fail and fail and fail. And gosh, I have failed a lot. Daily. So yea, it was a conscious decision right away to start looking at life and the way it would look now. I think if you've read any of my previous posts, you can see this current woven throughout them. Death and grief blew the doors and windows out of my house, it ripped out the plumbing and electrical. All I had was the foundation, and I had to decide how I wanted to rebuild. 'All I had' was Jesus, and that my friends was enough foundation to rebuild.
This process, this rebuilding, it's raw, and agonizing ... and beautiful.
If you've ever built a house, you know just how the build process goes. There is so much excitement when you pick out the piece of land you are claiming and the type of house you want to build. Will it be big, or small? Will it house an army, or will it be sufficient for your family?
Then you watch the foundation go down. Concrete slab, solid.
Then the framing comes and the house starts to take shape. You can start to envision what it will look like on the outside, and where each wall will be.
A roof goes on to protect you from the elements.
The dirty work on the inside starts with sheetrock and electrical and plumbing - all of the things that we want to work, often don't think about but really appreciate.
Then comes the fun part. Paint colors, flooring choices, cabinets, light fixtures ... all the things to make it pretty and unique.
...and finally, it's time for you to own it and make it yours.
Watching yourself become a whole new person is very much of the same process. We want to rush this process, but it can't be rushed. It has to be carefully thought out, and built strategically.
What's your foundation? Will you build it with Jesus, or will you allow the world and culture to tell you who you are. Will you walk forward claiming yourself as the world would have you be called a widow - desolate, sad, weak - or will you walk forward with confidence knowing you are chosen and called - and that God has a special protection set forth in scripture just for you.
What's your framing look like? The exterior of your home must be strong, but still allow places for people to enter. The interior of your home can have walls, but as you build, build them to guard your heart. Take seriously the influences you allow to penetrate your heart. Your heart is the most important leadership tool you have. It is extremely valuable. We don't guard worthless things and your heart is the source of everything you do, and it is under constant attack. This is the essence of who you are, your authentic self. Protect it.
Your roof, is your protection and stability. Shield yourself from negative influences and focus on spending time with those who love you and will support you; but also, be a roof for others.
The dirty work. This is where the stuff lies. This is the place we want to just work, but we need to know how it works. We need to know every last little turn of the nut or bolt, every last little wire, every joint in the plumbing - we need to know it all. This is dirty because it's often where we want to look the least.
What happens if there's a knick in a wire? Well, over time, it can begin to spark. And sparks create fires. Same with plumbing, if there's a small hole in the pipe, or a joint not secured, we find leaks, and leaks create huge issues.
This is the same with our stuff - our dirty work. Unresolved feelings and fears can create leaks in our lives. Unresolved unforgiveness and bitterness can start fires big enough to consume a whole neighborhood. I know this is dirty and we just want it to work, but when we don't pay attention to it, and we don't know how to fix it when it breaks - it becomes a much bigger issue. So friends, learn how it works. Educate yourself in this area, and spend a lot of time here. Find the leaks and the sparks, examine and fix them.
The fun part. This is the part we want to rush to. This is the part we all think about when building a house. It's the fun part, and I dare to say it's our reward from enduring the building process.
I reflect back on this building process and I'm in awe of every single moment.
From the choices I made to the reality I had to face, and I see a woman who is standing strong, knowing she is chosen and called.
This woman knows her foundation.
She knows how valuable her heart is.
She knows how all the stuff works, and isn't afraid to get in there and fix it herself when something is broken.
...and she's working on the fun part.
It's raw watching yourself become a whole new person. It'll rip you right down to the studs and beg you to rebuild. But friends, it's beautiful too. I've got the tools to make repairs as needed, and will continue to repair as life goes on, but this season now, it's time to own it and make it mine.