A lot has happened in the course of the 14 months since my husband’s passing. Who knew life could be so different at the start of this new journey that I definitely did NOT want to embark on at the start! There are some hurts in life that we all just wish we had never had to experience. The ironic thing is, that despite the enormous pain, this life holds so much joy and goodness and love, that even with all the pain, I’m so thankful I have had the opportunity to LIVE!
Not long after losing Clint, I became keenly aware that I was alone! I had wrongly assumed I would spend the rest of my life with him. Grow old with him. I truly believed we would die together. I was not prepared to walk this life without him by my side, especially at 41 years old! The loneliness and emptiness I lived with is really something indescribable! My mind knew I was alone…widowed…single, but all my heart wanted was my Beloved! I had someone very dear to me, early on, “release” me verbally from my marital commitment. They knew better than anyone else could have, that we loved each other! And, yet, they gave me permission to move forward finding new love, whenever I felt ready. I remember telling this person that I didn’t want anyone but Clint. They sweetly shook their head and said, “I know…but he isn’t ever coming back.” I pondered that statement for a long time. No one had to tell me I was alone. I knew it. I knew he wasn’t coming back. But, it was different hearing it. I didn’t need anyone’s approval but hearing it was freeing, even if my heart wasn’t ready to accept it.
As I continued on in my journey, I walked through many emotional phases of that process.
The first one was accepting that he was never returning but grieving the fact that I only wanted him.
The second hurdle was tearing down a lie I had told myself my whole life. I did not grow up with a favorable outlook for men. Before ever meeting Clint, I truly believed there weren’t many, if any good men left in the world. Meeting Clint changed that belief for me and we married. But down through the years, I continued on in that belief. “The good ones are either taken or dead,” I would say. I believed it as fact. So much so, that sadly, my own daughters believed it and wondered if they would ever find love. It’s an easy lie to believe until one is faced with the reality that they are now widowed and may in fact be single the rest of their lives…and I had taken such joy in being a wife. I had to really wrestle with this idea.
Another thing that I had to work through was the fact that anyone who knew Clint, knew what a great guy he was. I heard from numerous, well-meaning people, things like, “God can do anything, but good luck ever finding someone of his caliber again.” Every time I heard something along those lines, I had to grieve again, that I had once been happy and would have to accept a lifetime of singleness.
Feeling so guilty is something I see as a characterization among many widows and widowers. For many, if not most, the guilt that they want to move forward and find someone to share their lives with is all-consuming. They feel like they are being unfaithful to their previous spouses. They worry about the people around them. Will people think it’s too soon? Will they be angry, thinking that you have “replaced” the person who has passed. I am on MANY private Facebook sites for widows/ers. I personally know many in this place. And, I have to tell you…MANY are dating long before anyone knows! MANY are not dating because they can’t let go of the guilt. MANY are wanting to date long before they are willing to even tell anyone. And, sadly, MANY lose their friends and/or family when they choose to go public with the fact that they have decided to move forward.
I personally cried out to God and told Him how badly I missed Clint, marriage, and how lonely I was. But, I trusted Him. I was in process of choosing joy, fashioning a new life for myself apart from the one I had created with Clint. It was hard, but it was giving me a new foundation on which to walk, that was my own.
As I journeyed, God was placing something new in my heart. I began to speak truth to myself and became my own advocate when others would remind me of how bleak my future looked in regards to ever finding another good man. “I accept my place and trust God with it! But, I know I CAN strike gold twice! I may never, but I know God could make that happen!”, became my mantra! I believed I was living “good” now, not waiting for something “good” later. I made the choice to see life as good. I still struggled with singleness. I had to regularly take it to God! But, I accepted it and was choosing to keep my eyes open, expectantly waiting for whatever God had in store! And, I did not believe happiness meant finding someone new to share life with in marriage. I have wonderful children to do life with. I have more amazing friends than a person deserves. I have many dreams. I have goals. I was choosing to do life single and find joy in it.
Then God placed a wonderful man in my life! He is everything I prayed he would be, if God ever saw fit to bring me another husband! Even now, as I write, my heart leaps with joy, at the goodness of God! I did not marry him to be a “daddy” to my children! I told him early on that my children had a good daddy and I would never marry anyone to fill that spot. But, the fact is, the two children I have at home, miss their daddy very much and this sweet man God has sent us, couldn’t be a better fit for them! They love him very much and his kiddos love me. God has brought us all together and the “fit” is something only God could have orchestrated.
Many have expressed worry over the quickness of my relationship/marriage. Others in my same place have confirmed to me that they also have many in their lives that express worry, concern, backlash, anger, and have lost relationships with those that do not understand what they are doing. I sort of know and understand what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. I once had the privilege of standing on the outside worrying about what decisions people were making. Thinking their lives did in fact “blow up” and they must be in rebound or not thinking straight. Even though some of the concern comes from a loving place, it can be difficult hearing it over and over again.
For 25 years, my husband and I made decisions. No one worried about us, talked about us, or confronted us. People trusted us and our decisions. Other widows have expressed becoming almost afraid to make any decision because everyone around them is making them feel as if they can not be trusted. They begin to distrust their own mind and decision making skills. I so valued the people in my life who have said to me, “I trust you. I trust your walk with the Lord.” I also began to let people know that I had truly leaned on the Lord with every decision I had made and that if I was wrong in marrying this new man and he left me, I had lived through a death, I could likewise live through the consequences of a bad decision, if I had to do so. This allowed me to boldly and confidently walk in what I knew God wanted me to do. **Sidenote — I did not have any of those concerns myself. I was at complete peace in marrying him 🙂
Since marrying this new, wonderful, God-sent man, both my children still living at home have thanked me for doing so! Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with the fact that he has walked into this place of grief and hurt and loved us so incredibly well! He is so tender with all of us! He points out things in my children that I failed to notice. He plays with them! He makes us laugh! He sacrifices so much! He allows us to talk as much or little as we want about Clint. He drives me to the cemetery when I need to go and cry. He personally loves me so incredibly well!
I don’t know why God saw fit to send him to us so early. Many never find love once, let alone twice in their life. I may never understand it. In fact, early on, when I would say, “God could allow me to strike gold twice”, I would feel so guilty. What right did I have to even ask when others are still waiting? But, nothing is too hard for God! My asking did not take away another’s ability to receive. We each have our own walk and each path looks very different from another’s.
I write this to give hope. I write this to share the feelings I have had as I’ve wrestled with singleness and remarriage. I write to help others know things that were helpful and things that were not. I write to say, there is always cause for concern when we are running off our emotions and not taking them to God! But, walk in confidence if you are taking them to God! Everyone makes mistakes! The good news is this — God can use our mistakes too! So, take it all to Him! Accept His “no’s” and don’t push your way through a closed door. But, don’t be afraid to walk through the open ones just because others don’t understand or may be creating an atmosphere of fear. Trust God in ALL things!! Then “when you’ve done all to stand…STAND!!” Don’t. Be. Afraid!