When poor choices and bad decisions collide with unexpected circumstances and uncontrollable situations, a tough year is the result. You can probably write your own story about a tough year. So I won’t bore you with all the details of mine.
What I do want to say is that sometimes God doesn’t give you a rainbow-colored parachute so you can float gently to safety. Sometimes God gives you hiking boots, a shovel and a line for rappelling. Oh, and he gives you his Word.
Some years are going to be tough. Regardless if you’re married, divorced, widowed or single. That’s part of being human.
And as humans, we have choices and decisions to make. In the best of circumstances, we seek God, ask for his wisdom, and move forward in his plan. In the worst of circumstances, we act impulsively, make decisions based on fear, and plead for God’s mercy. Realistically, maybe we land somewhere in between.
One of the best parts of a tough year is what we learn. The best result for our growth as humans and as followers of Jesus is that we come through the storm and are much healthier people than we were before.
I’ve been a widow for almost 15 years. Looking at my toughest year of being a widow, I can boldly say: This is what God taught me.
1. God will take you to the peg he needs you to be on, up or down from where you are now. Sometimes we need to be humbled. Sometimes we need to be lifted up. When we trust God to do what needs to be done, he will. Going down a few pegs is humbling. I know because God keeps doing that for me. He shows me what’s really important, and I’m not at the top of that list.
2. God is a faithful teacher, regardless of whether I’m a faithful student. God’s lessons are hard but necessary lessons. Prayer and meditation on God’s Word give me those important close encounters with him. Then he molds and shapes me into the person he wants me to be. The areas where I still need to be a student continue to be obvious to me: finances, trusting people who are trustworthy, reaching out to others instead of isolating.
3. Count on God, and he will send you the people you can count on. God has placed people in my life to see me through the tough times and to celebrate the good times with me: family, friends, co-workers, Bible study group, neighbors. All I have to do is scroll through my contacts list on my phone to remind myself how blessed I am.
4. Alone isn’t the same as lonely. That’s a valuable lesson to learn, and I’m still learning. Alone is a temporary situation. Lonely is a decision with negative consequences. God keeps teaching me that it’s okay to be alone, to feel safe with him, to pursue my own interests and study, to take care of what he gives me to take care of. In that process, he builds my faith. When I spend a Saturday at home, studying my Bible, doing chores, writing, reading, listening to music, that’s a good kind of alone time. When I spend a Saturday in bed, hosting and attending my own pity party, that’s a bad kind of alone.
5. Living without excitement and adventure is okay. Some seasons of life are routine and predictable. Some are filled with new experiences and unexpected blessings. Both stretch me and grow me. One of my favorite adventures is to travel, but some years are not meant for travel. And that’s okay. Contentment is the key.
6. Solitaire, sitcoms, and sitting will suck the life out of you. Our American culture provides us with plenty of panaceas and painkillers. We don’t even need a prescription. The enemy is giddy about tossing things in our path to distract and disarm us. For me, TV is the biggest distraction. And I don’t even have cable, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. I use the excuse that I need to hear other voices, that I need relief from the quiet. Then on goes the TV, and off goes my mind.
7. God will be my GPS, even when I disagree with his directions. How much time and energy have I wasted on questioning God, yelling at God, begging God, demanding God’s action? He sees the big picture, and he knows how my life fits into that. I don’t know that, so I trust him to guide and direct me. Most of the time. When I get off course and try to find my own way, the results are often not the greatest. Like when I hear him tell me to be a better saver and a wiser spender, I know I need to pay attention.
Oh, by the way, my toughest year of being a widow? 2017.
How about you?
“Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment” (Proverbs 4:7).
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Warfel