What Could Have Been

Breeze. Birdsong. Strawberries. Prayer. I bow my head and open my hands. Thank you, Lord, for saving me from what could have been.

If you had looked at the facts of my situation when my husband Gene passed away, you probably would have said I was on the way to destruction. Debt and doctor bills. A house in need of many repairs in a town of 800 people. A van with many payments still due. A job where I was making just a little above minimum wage. Two kids in college. No health insurance.

Yes, my life could have been a disaster.

That was 14 years and many choices and decisions and redirections ago. Instead of ending up destitute, I’ve ended up blessed beyond measure. There are 3 reasons why.

1. I choose friends and family instead of isolation. I’ll admit it. It would have been easy to give up and hole up in my own little self-made world. Sometimes I’m still tempted to do that. But those who know me best won’t let me. They never give up on me. No matter how many detours I take or messes I get myself into. They stay with me. Encouraging. Praying. Listening. Advising. Laughing and crying with me. Pouring the truth of God’s Word into my life. 

My friend Mary Ann and my sister Barb, two of my biggest cheerleaders!

My friend Mary Ann and my sister Barb, two of my biggest cheerleaders!

2. I choose a simpler life instead of trying to be someone I can’t afford to be. I scaled down from a house to a townhouse. I took jobs with Christian nonprofits instead of corporate giants. I accepted God’s assignment to care for widows instead of pursuing selfish pleasures. I say no to things I want so I can say yes to things I need.

Home sweet front porch. I've actually lived here longer than anywhere else I've lived, except growing up in my parents' house.

Home sweet front porch. I've actually lived here longer than anywhere else I've lived, except growing up in my parents' house.

3. I choose to live in gratitude instead of self-pity. When I see all good things in my life as great blessings from God, I find myself saying thank you to him for the simplest things. And sometimes he turns the simplest things into great blessings. I’m humbled by his provision every day because I know my life could have turned out so differently. I know God keeps me safe from disaster.

God's abundance is better than anything I'll ever be able to imagine! (Photo by LarryDavisPhotography.com)

God's abundance is better than anything I'll ever be able to imagine! (Photo by LarryDavisPhotography.com)

Sometimes it’s still easy to stand on the edge and look into the pit of despair. Sometimes it’s still easy to wonder where this road I’m on is heading. Sometimes I still compare myself with others my age and wonder how I got here instead of where they are. 

But those times aren’t the majority of the time. Because I’m living each day of my life as a child of God. A blessed child of God. He is my all in all. 

There will be more surprises, more unplanned events, more disappointments, more growth. I’m not giving up, and I know God will never give up on me. God's blessings are new every morning.

God is inviting you to trust him completely. With everything. No matter how hard that is for you. The more you trust him, the easier it will be for you to trust him. And the closer you will walk with him.

I’m living proof of that truth.

After I gave my entire life to Jesus — when I was 40 years old — one of the best compliments I ever received was from my college roommate Julie. She said: “You’re different than you used to be.” 

I’m so thankful she noticed. I’m so thankful I’m not living in what could have been.
 
I’m not the same widow I was the day my husband Gene passed away on our front porch. And I’m so thankful.

Thankful every day that God saved me from what could have been. (Photo: Mariano's display, Chicago Flower and Garden Show)

Thankful every day that God saved me from what could have been. (Photo: Mariano's display, Chicago Flower and Garden Show)


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