I can get scared a lot.
Especially when my weaknesses jump up in my face and challenge my attempts about being vulnerable, authentic…real.
It’s a risk I realize everyone is – at some point in time – concerned about.
When I look at how I’ve come from being shy, people pleasing and attracting those who drain more than deposit, the only way I can explain where I am is to admit to being able to do it (1) by the grace of God and (2) by simply stepping forward.
GRACE OF GOD
This has been a foreign idea to me most of my adult life.
I feel I was raised with consequences outweighing rewards, the importance of staying in line and performance being prioritized. I believed that if I did well, people – my friends, teachers, even family – would like me, approve, spend time with me and validate me. And if I didn’t – I if was corrected or re-directed or told no, I felt a devastation to my character and deeply flawed as a person.
Yes, I suspect I was pretty dramatic in my internal thinking, but I’ve been rescued through God’s grace.
This morning I read 2 Corinthians 12:9+10; it’s a part of the study I’ve been doing in this chapter of the Bible for about 9 weeks now.
But he said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
A quick aside – it’s always interesting to me how the verses I read come alive and become even more real to my soul when I stay in it everyday. A little bit (almost) every morning and suddenly questions that I’ve been wrestling with or situations that make no sense, become more clear – at least how I’m supposed to respond in those situations becomes more clear.
But while reading this morning about God’s grace in the pain I’m experiencing, over my recent past and especially over my whole adult life, I felt comforted that there is purpose to all that I’ve gone through and even that which is to come; that which I don’t yet see.
It can be tempting to look back and wish that I’d not done this or had said yes, instead of no, to that, but this is where I am. And though it might not have been what God would have chosen for me, He allowed me to choose and lavished His sufficient grace over me all along the way.
About grace, “It is God’s provision for our every need when we need it. It has well been said that God in His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does not give us what we do deserve.” Warren W. Wiersbe (Be Encouraged Devotional: 2 Corinthians)
I am so thankful to be able to look back and share thousands of grace filled moments.
Which is how I think I’ve been able to walk through grief, suicidal thoughts, depression, comparison, envy, anger, being widowed, an emotionally abusive marriage, raising a boy from 6yo on my own and eventually being divorced.
I’ve not always extended the grace that I received from God, which makes me sad. I hurt some folks who tried to give me advice about how to grieve, what they thought it should look like. When my first husband died from injuries he’d sustained while serving in Iraq, I lost a lot.
I’d been molding myself into what so many others wanted from me and when I finally made the room to grieve, I didn’t have the capacity to create an image or the person they needed to be, I had to be authentic in my pain or I would have disappeared completely, losing myself, my son and eventually my faith.
It wasn’t easy to consider where I’d be years from then.
When I would try to consider life without the pain – of being widowed, and later in a marriage that was unhealthy and unloving – I would get swept back under the grief. So much time not telling people how I really felt, what I believed I truly needed and sometimes just getting it wrong and making mistakes – it felt too overwhelming. So I eventually accepting that the pain was my life.
And I took steps that made that lie truth.
My son and I became ambassadors for grieving families of the fallen, I isolated myself from couples (or maybe they sent me away – it can become strange to be friends with a couple after the person who made you a couple dies; it’s like it’s contagious or you’re contagious or something) it consumed me and we needed something new.
Some of the steps I’m really, REALLY proud of. And there are many that carry shame. Those are the ones that I am working to nail to the Cross and be freed from so that I can walk in this godly marriage and these loving relationships with joy and peace being me.
I have a lot of steps I’d recommend young widows not take and I’ll share more of those here in this space, but there is one step that I’d really really encourage them to take…
And that is to sit in their pain. Whatever this looks like each day. To sit in or with that grief, that loss, that pain and call it by name. All of it.
Too much time around others can be overwhelming because they don’t necessarily know what to say and you can find yourself moving in the direction of what makes sense for them, rather than what you’re being called into. Too much time alone with your grief can also be overwhelming because if it’s the only thing you focus on you may never be able to snatch up moments of hope.
If you’re the friend of someone who has lost someone close to them recently, I’d encourage you to offer them some hope with this simple step. You can offer it in a card, after the funeral or memorial, you can suggest they sit on their patio while you or another one close to them sit in the living room (just so they know you’re there). But, offer the thought. It may be the simple step they need to begin feeling more than pain after their loss.
I am putting together some ideas for sharing more “simply step sessions” for grieving, divorce, single-parenting, vulnerability and faith. Keep coming back for more suggestions and support and leave any ideas you’d like to hear about in the comments below.
I’m so very glad you’re here.