I thought I would write this post two weeks ago on the third anniversary of Jon’s death.
But no words came. Nothing.
I just sat and stared at the ocean. Three years. How can it be?
It seems like just yesterday, and yet each day has been 100 hours long.
I thought this post would be full of wisdom. Paragraphs filled with eloquent words. But I think it will be more like a journal entry, figuring things out as I write. So bear with me. Here we go…
As I prepared to go away in mid-October, I kept stacking books that I wanted to take with me on my dining room table. I’m such a nerd. I love books. I think maybe if I read just the right book, I can fix myself. But as the pile of books grew taller than me, I decided I had to purge. I couldn’t take another suitcase just for books!
I sorted and set books aside. And sorted and set aside again. Finally, I had 10 books and I was satisfied — a good mix of topics. Still, a lot to pack and tote around, but I was willing and able.
Yep, I was that nerd on the beach and by the pool.
Funny thing though. About three days in, and I realized all the books were saying the same thing … in one way or another. I thought I took a wide variety of genres, and somehow God whispered, ‘Ok, I can work with all those books.’
All the books were saying the same thing… in a common theme or gentle thread…
“Connie, put the books away. Stop striving and rest in Me.”
What? But there is so much wisdom in all of these books. In all the people who have gone before me…
So here I am, back home, beginning my fourth year as a widow, and these are my words of wisdom. This is what I know. Are you ready?
The third year was harder than the second.
That’s it. That’s all I got.
And I have no idea why.
There have been good things this year. Absolutely. A couple amazing trips. Sweet times with grandchildren. Surprising speaking opportunities. The year has not been a disaster. That is not what I’m saying.
Grief is not linear. Grief makes no sense. Grief is full of ups and downs. Grief is triggered by events, scents, anniversaries, dates, words, and numerous other things — that don’t necessarily make sense to anyone. Grief often comes in waves — like my ocean.
Back to my ocean/book story…
Want to know something? I don’t always listen.
Because, really, books are good, right? He probably didn’t mean set ALL the books aside, right? I mean I still read my Bible too.
But one week after my trip, I just about had my first full-on panic attack. Can I just say “anxiety on steroids.”
So ok then. I’m listening now.
Let’s just put these books back on the bookshelf. For now. All of them. Stop the craziness. Stop the striving.
The red ones go here. The blue ones go down there. If you’ve followed me, you’ll remember… I sorted my bookshelves by color a few months ago. I like it. It works for me. I’ve kept it that way.
But “this” can’t be fixed. And certainly not with red and blue books.
So then, with only one book on my desk, I began in the “book” of John, chapter 15, of course, the Vine….the branches…. just made sense to start there… all those verses about abiding. That was reinforced at a beautiful, and timely, conference I attended over the weekend so I knew I was on the right track. But then after a few days in chapter 15, my mild OCD kicked in and I decided I needed to go back and start at the beginning of that book — so I turned to John, chapter 1 and began again…
On Day three, in verse 23, tears came to my eyes as I read John’s words, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness…” I’ve read that verve so many times. But this time.
And yes, I know the verse is meant for the coming of Christ and I’m using it completely out of context. Let’s just get that out there and out of the way. (Remember, this is my journal, not eloquent ….or necessarily accurate.) God’s word is alive and active and this is how he used it to speak to me.
I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.
Those words resonate with me.
There are some days….still… I am sitting in the middle of my own wilderness, crying out, with my wound completely opened up again.
The verse continues on by saying, “…making straight the way for the Lord.” But on those days, I don’t know if I’m ‘making way’ for anyone to find Jesus. On those days I’m sad and lonely. So lonely. I just want Jon back. It’s all so foggy. There are days like that. They’re not all like that. But some days are just hard. Yes. Still.
As a Christian woman, I don’t feel guilt for grieving my husband. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe God’s promises. It just means I miss my partner and I’m trying to find my way. God and me? I’m just trying to figure it out. To be brutally honest, I haven’t always depended on God because I had a good husband. I depended on Jon. Did I just type those words out loud? Shocking! I know. But that’s what grief has done to me. Honest. Brutal. Truth. Or what’s the point? I have had to dig down into the deep dark recesses and then deeper still to find the God who holds my heart.
I recently read … (I know I know, again, with the books)
when Americans enter a “wilderness” season, the first question we often ask is, ‘Where is the door, and how fast can I get out of here?’ But in the Middle Eastern culture, when people enter a “wilderness” season, the things they think about are, ‘the wilderness is a place God often brings his own. There are lessons to be learned. What can I learn? And how can I take the wilderness with me when I leave?”
Big difference, right?
The wilderness isn’t fun. The journey is just stinkin’ hard. But, I don’t want to waste the wilderness.
The journey is too hard to NOT take the lessons with us.
And to be honest? I can’t even comprehend what it means to take the wilderness with me. But in some ways, I know I will. How can I not?
I was blessed to be in a good marriage.
I am blessed as a widow.
I know that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t mean I like being a widow, but I have a good life — even though the journey is hard. Even though I do not like being without my husband, God is good, and he is putting good things into my life.
It’s just all so hard and complicated. And messy. So messy. I miss Jon. I want a hug. I want him to hold me and tell me it’s all going to be okay. And the only way I can get through it all is to cling to God, and walk as closely to him as I can.
I can’t do it any other way.
What are the lessons? What are the blessings? I’m finding them. I really am. It’s hard to list them in concrete words. Its hard to see them clearly through the tears. But they are there. I’m holding on. Three years isn’t very long after 50 years together… a lifetime together….it’s still early in this journey.
I am a woman of faith.
I grieve deeply. I believe God grieves with me.
God is good.
And we’re in this together.
I’m gonna keep walking. I’ve got my book.
That’s all I know.