"So we're not giving up. How could we? Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.
There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.
But the things we can't see now will last forever."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The MSG)
Have you ever felt like giving up? Disconnecting the phones, crawling back into bed, pulling the covers over your head? I bet we've all been there. Some of us in this unimagined journey may be past this stage, while others may be right in the midst of it.
Even though I rarely follow through on those thoughts, I still have days where a part of me wants to give in to the pain of widowhood by giving up and giving in.
But for me, really giving up was never an option. Although I had lost my husband, the rock in our family, the love of my life, our two young sons had lost their compass, their role model, their daddy. They expectantly look to me to pick up the pieces and guide our family into the future. A future filled with unknowns, what-ifs, and should've-beens.
So I did what any other mother in my position would do--I forged ahead. There were days I did not have a clue as to what I was doing. I made decisions based solely on prayer and intuition.
Slowly but surely I began to feel more confident in making head of household decisions, with only God to consult with.
On the outside, it may have seemed like life was falling apart all around us. Plans and dreams that were in the works for the Howell family of four had to be reevaluated and re-assessed. Some we had to let go of completely, and that was difficult.
Others we are continuing to follow. The rest are in a state of flux and uncertainty as we await God for direction. The Howell family of three is slowly regrouping, once again finding purpose in life.
For you see, even on the worst of days, God is still at work within us. He quietly fills in the cracks of our brokenness, like a contractor spackling holes in sheetrock.
His grace and His love unfold in our souls, allowing us to begin to heal. God is actively making all things new, in spite of the curve-ball life threw us almost two years ago. He shows us time and time again that life is still worth living.
As I look back on the past twenty two months since becoming a widow, I see how far I have come. I look ahead and realize I have far to go. The one constant in the journey has been the steadfast love and grace of my God.
He's been beside me on the rough days, days I didn't think I could make it until the next minute. He's curled up beside me on nights where it seemed I could never go to sleep in my big bed alone, after sharing it with a spouse for almost 23 years.
He's helped me make decisions for my family, for our future, by giving me counsel and guidance, the best I could ever hope to have. He's given me glimpses of joy and happiness, when I thought those were emotions I might never feel again.
Most importantly He has showed me that really bad circumstances can build character, empathy, and faith. I never thought good could come from such bad, but thanks to God, it has.
The end of my husband's life could've been the end of my story--and it would've been a pretty good one to tell. But God tells me I still have purpose. I have work to do for Him, joy to experience, sons to raise, songs to sing, books to write.
He is enough. You, too, have a purpose. Don't give up. Your story should not end with the death of your spouse. There's so much more that God wants to help you write.
I pray that each widow reading this will feel the all-encompassing love and grace that You and only You can provide. Fill in the cracks of their brokenness, let them see that their story hasn't ended just because they've lost a spouse. In many ways, it's just beginning. It is my prayer that each finds purpose in this new uncharted territory of widowhood, so that Your kingdom will be glorified. Because You make all things new. Amen