Look around. You know at least one widow. She may be you. Your neighbor. Your aunt. Your best friend. Your sister in Christ at your church.
Just as each woman is unique, each widow is unique. With her own set of fears and challenges and responsibilities. With her own precious past, shaky present, and unpredictable future. With her own assets and liabilities, comfort zone and edgy risks.
Some widows idealize (and idolize) their husband and the relationship they had before he died. The longer he is gone, the more perfect he and their marriage become.
Constructing a walled kingdom with no doors or windows becomes easier and easier. Until some widows find themselves living like Rapunzel in the tower with a bob haircut or resting like Sleeping Beauty who doesn’t want to wake up or knocking on the Wizard’s door.
Memories can be wonderful, comforting treasures. But memories can also get between a widow and the rest of her life. Nothing else (or no one else) can ever measure up to perfection, after all. So a widow may find herself alone in the idealized life that never really existed.
Some widows trap themselves in solitude. At first, they just want to be alone with their pain. Then their pain becomes so comfortable, they don’t want to venture outside it. Hours turn into days. Days turn into weeks. Soon their friends have withdrawn, and they have no new people in their lives.
Alone time is good. Sometimes. But when the majority of her waking hours are spent in her own company, a widow is sliding into depression. Regardless of whether she recognizes or admits that.
Some widows believe they can’t really live without a significant man in their lives. They want a living, breathing man to fill the empty place left by their husband who died. Many forsake all they have known just to follow that dream.
Dating can be exciting and fun. Insights and interests from a new person can help fill empty days. But giving into the panic of being alone may lead a widow to unhealthy, impulsive choices. Which may lead to disaster. And a long detour of recovery time.
Some widows collapse under the weight of responsibilities. They refuse to ask for help and even confuse themselves about who to ask for help. “Poor me” becomes the soundtrack of their lives.
Being a widow does bring a lot to handle. Often, widows aren’t prepared for what is coming. Sometimes what they thought was coming isn’t what really comes. Knowing whom to trust can be overwhelming. God is ready to guide and direct any widow who is ready to trust him to do that.
Some widows think they are the first person in the world to go through what they’re going through. Just like young lovers and women pregnant with their first child, they think they invented their current life experience.
Millions of women in our world are living as widows. Although each life is unique, some experiences are common. When widows reach out to one another, they can be a source of comfort and encouragement unlike any other. The first step is to step out of that suffocating comfort zone and risk. Make at least one new friend. Life does get better, even if it’s different.
Some widows get hooked on romance as a replacement for what they’ve lost. A steady diet of steamy novels, chick flicks, soap operas, and constant happy endings is a recipe for despair.
Reality can blur with fantasy until they get lost in between. Beware of this trap, set by the enemy for his enjoyment. Real, daily life will never be like what widows see on a screen. Or like the life they remember having before they became single again. That’s a fact, not a life sentence.
Some widows drag themselves through each day instead of making a plan for each day. Why bother? The more times a widow asks that question, the easier that question is to ask. When the calendar and the clock mean less and less, when the days and nights blur together, when chores slide and voicemails stack up, this widow has a problem.
Excuses become normal. After all, widows don’t have another person to share daily life with. Who cares if one day slides into the next? Who cares about holidays and family gatherings? Saying it’s too hard becomes too easy.
This is another trap set by the enemy. He would love to see widows give up or give into a wasted life. The enemy has many pits ready for widows to fall into. Gratitude counteracts excuses. Every time.
Some widows ignore the obvious with the hope that everything will just go away. Bills, household repairs, car repairs, business decisions, investments, even children. They let overwhelming circumstances crush them. Then they lie in bed and pray that God will make it all disappear with one wave of his mighty arm.
Guess what. God probably isn’t going to do that. A widow must partner with God so God can do the work he’s going to do. She must face reality head on and tackle each situation. That takes a lot of guts, sweat, and tears. But the end result of less confusion is so worth it.
If you’re a widow, beware of these pitfalls. If you know a widow, watch out for these warning signs.
Confession: I’ve been in all these places as a widow.
What I’ve learned: Walking with God is the only way to go.
When our primary relationship is with God, he will bring the order and direction we need. Maybe not on our timetable. Maybe after we have made some mistakes. Maybe not in the ways we are dreaming of.
We can be sure of this: God is faithful, and God loves us.
As widows, we want to have the healthiest, safest, happiest life we possibly can. Our life will never be the same as it was before our husband’s death. It may not be what we imagined. It probably won’t be predictable.
Be assured. We are still here for a reason. Probably for many reasons. And for the people God puts in our path. Refuse to miss what God has ready for you. Blessings await.
God says: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” — Ezekiel 36:26
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 © 2019 by Laura Warfel