Finding Freedom in Moving Forward…

I did it!  I changed my profile picture on Facebook last night.  And, I’m kind of freaking out!!  I would say that to most people, it’s a completely mundane occurrence and not one that would warrant that type of response.  That is, until you’re widowed.

At first, I rejected the very idea that I EVER would post main pictures without Clint.  At 6 months I switched the cover photo of my family with Clint to one without him.  And, last night I made the leap into the “unknown” with a picture of myself.  I’ve wrestled with “Why?”.  Why do it at all?  Does it even matter?  Will others be unsettled that I am moving forward in this way?  What will they think of me?  Will they understand?  I’ve had to grapple with so many concerns as I navigate this new life.  Nothing I do, no decision I make, comes without considerable thought and surety that I am doing what is right and that I will confidently be able to handle any critics that may come my way, whether perceived or not.

These past 8 months, I have been on a journey of intensive self discovery!  I would say that before Clint went to Heaven, I did not see myself as an entirely separate person apart from Clint.  I met him at 16, was married at 17, and had our first child at 18.  I think I have always been a strong person who knows what I want and don’t want, but I leaned heavily on his opinion and direction.

In a split second, I was on my own and to say this caused an earth-shaking paradigm shift would be an understatement!  “Can I do this?”, I have wondered?  “Are there any options to NOT do this?”, I have asked myself?  In answer to those questions, I decided to do what anyone does when they fight!  I determined I was going to live well!  I have learned to trust God and stand on my own two feet…without the one I looked to for nearly EVERYTHING!!!  And, I am making it! I know Clint is proud of me!  I wasn’t given the option of keeping him here with me and continuing on the way things always were and the way I always wanted them to stay.  Even saying that makes me cringe with disappointment and heartache.

The results of these new realities have come in many forms.  Around May, I began to look at my wedding ring that I have been wearing for 24 years and for the first time ever, I felt it was mocking me.  Each time I observed it, I was reminded marriage was no longer mine.  It literally caused me physical pain.  But, I continued to wear my ring for fear of what others would think.  I worried it would cause them pain to see me remove it.  I feared they would think I did not love this man I dreamed of, prayed for, and anxiously awaited throughout my childhood until God brought him to me at 16.  I stressed that people would not know how much I adored him.  But, I am learning to walk in truth.  That ring is not a reflection of my love.  The love I have IS outside of time.  No ring can change the feelings I carry.

So, I removed it.

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Then came the pictures.

My cover photo had been of our whole family.  In the beginning, I refused to be a family without Clint.  It was unthinkable!!  By May, the total absoluteness of this whole situation had sunk in.  I wasn’t given a choice in this matter.  I knew it was time to accept that we had changed.  One of my first thoughts after Clint went to Heaven, was that I was terrified I would lose all of us.  A bomb had gone off!  Dust was flying everywhere and there was no possible way to gather it all and put it back together!  Clint felt like the glue.  I wasn’t strong enough.  I wasn’t capable.  And, frankly, I did not feel up to the task!  But, God IS strong enough!  So, I changed my cover photo to one of my “new” family…complete with two new son-in-laws!

We were surviving!

Thoughts began to swirl in my mind around my profile picture.  I couldn’t conceive of EVER changing the “we” to one of me!!!  On our headstone I had written Clint’s words to describe himself above his name, “God’s Kid”.  Above my name I placed these words, “God and Clint’s Girl”.  I can hardly remember a time without my Beloved!   I never wanted to do life without him and never thought I could have.  But, as the saying goes, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have”, quitting hasn’t been an option.

Learning to walk hasn’t been easy.  I’ve wobbled.  I’ve fallen.  I’ve been banged up.  I’ve questioned which direction I should go on these new legs that could literally take me anywhere.  But, I’ve learned to walk!  In fact, I’m getting faster and more sure of myself.  I’ve learned that if I can survive Clint’s death, then I can survive ANYTHING!!!  He had faith in me!!  He reminded me ALL THE TIME how strong I was!  I didn’t fully believe him.  But, I do now!!  As I have become more sure of each step I take, I am gaining momentum!  I can feel the wind on my face.  I am becoming ME!  Maybe me in a way I’ve never fully known, and in large part because of who Clint believed me to be and helped me to become by God’s grace and mercy.

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I am here on my “own”.  As hard as this fact is to swallow, it is true.  I know Whose I am (God’s kid).  I know Where I am going (Heaven).  I know Who/who is waiting on me when I get there (Jesus and Clint).  I know I have purpose while I finish my race here (to love God and enjoy Him forever as I proclaim the good news of the Gospel to all that have an ear to hear!).  So, I changed my profile picture to just one of me.

I still hurt deeply for what has been lost.  I always will.  I still grieve for the life I never wanted to give up.  But,

I am thriving!

God’s got this, Babe!  I’ve got this!  I promised you that I would do this!  Thank you for helping to make me so strong!  I believe you are watching…I want to make you proud!  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” ~ Hebrews 12:1.

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What hard things have you done that may have made you stress or worry, but when God helped you do them, you felt free?  Please leave a comment below!  I’d love to hear your stories!  And, when we tell our FREEDOM stories, they help set other people free!!!  Join me in helping to give others the courage to live their lives boldly and with no regrets!  God bless!



One thought on “Finding Freedom in Moving Forward…

  1. tricia says:

    Oh Michelle- thank you so much for sharing your heart. Nothing about these decisions is easy or done without so much prayer and thought. I wish I could handle myself with the same grace that you have! Taking my ring off was so hard, but I too felt that it was time. It was a reminder of all that was lost and the realization that I’m not married anymore (while I’m forever Bens widow) freed me from so much guilt. Thank you for your friendship. I’m glad I get to walk this road with someone who understands!


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