Last year, an unwelcome course correction arrived at my doorstep with the sudden passing of my husband. My life came to a screeching halt as I faced the stark reality of being thrust into the unknown and the numbing emptiness that followed.
I unwillingly became a part of a club with no guidelines, rules, or secret handshake. I was signed up without permission, and I can’t “cancel at any time”.
The blessings that came from a forty-seven-year marriage were overshadowed for most of this past year by regrets over things said or done, the if only’s, and lost opportunities. I thought that dark cloud would not dissipate. It totally sucked.
I needed someone to complain to. Ahhhhh, God. I could complain to God. I’m so good at that. But the last time I tried, it went something like this:
Me dialing the number I found on the Internet…
The message in response:
Dial 1 to leave a message of gratitude.
Dial 2 to leave a complaint. You will be prompted to whine, grovel and beg. (FYI, this box is not monitored.)
How in the world did I fool myself into believing that my life would just keep plugging along with only a few potholes here and bumps in the road there until I drifted unceremoniously into eternity? I was lulled into believing that the way my life was would not change drastically or without some kind of damn warning.
Wrinkles and gray hair warn you. They don’t just show up one fine morning. They tiptoe in without much fanfare giving you plenty of time to disguise them before your next high school reunion. The aches and pains of aging sneak around your joints like a ninja, which mercifully eases you into the acceptance that your running days are over.
For as long as I can remember, each day of my life seemed to blend into the next. Birthdays piling one on top of another were no more thought-provoking than a trash can filling up. Any thought of purpose or meaning was often left unaddressed – till tomorrow, next week, or….
I think life’s subtle changes are meant as a wake-up call. But they’re too subtle for me. They need to scream loudly into my failure to act before it’s too late…but…oh yeah…pride helped me ignore the fact that I probably needed a hearing aid. Until now – until this.
Then, just as suddenly as I was knee-jerked into widowhood, the dark cloud lifted to reveal God’s promise to turn my mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11).
Being thrust into the pain of loss must become the catalyst for change, for the hope that there is more to this life. Or why do we even bother? Matthew 4:16 says, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light”. Jesus came along and spent his life showing us how to live abundantly in that light, often despite the darkness.
Then one morning, God spoke into my broken heart, “This is your new reality, Linda. You’re still here. You are surrounded by my love, the love of an amazing family, and supportive, loving friends. Now get up, dust yourself off, and do what you were created to do. Because if you haven’t learned anything else this past year, you surely have realized that this one precious life you have is short. Quit wasting it! Roll up your pity party mat and GO!”
I will leave you with two of the most powerful quotes that have helped me move beyond my sorrow:
Gian Carlo Menotti wants us to let this sink in, “Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do.”
John Shelby Spong tells us, “It is to live not frightened by death, but rather called by the reality of death to go into our humanity so deeply and so passionately that even death is transcended.”