- Find a quiet place
- Set a timer for 20 minutes
- Begin to write every thought you are having.
- Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar
- Just write until the timer ends.
This past Thursday I shared a little bit of my heart on my Instagram concerning my baby’s due date quickly approaching. The first time I had a miscarriage I thought, “Once the due date rolls around I’ll be doing better.” For some reason, I thought that by then I would have dealt with my emotions. However, the months went by and the pain didn’t really go away; the pain was as loud and intense as it had ever been. Here’s the thing: Grief comes in waves, therefore when that due date comes, so does a big wave of emotions and grief. If I am completely honest, there is no way to avoid it.
As I’ve shared before, I’ve had two miscarriages. Both of my angel baby’s, due dates, are just a couple months apart, so you can imagine that the grief sticks around for quite some time. Although over the years I’ve learned better ways to deal with it, it doesn’t mean that it won’t come. The desire to hold my babies in my arms is still very real every single day. I long for that, and I know that will never go away.
“Today we would have been 20 days away from meeting our baby. July has a lot of emotions tangled up in there — I know that this month we would have been able to hold our baby in our arms.
But here’s the thing that I’ve learned this year. God is with us through all of those emotions. Even in the hardest times, we’ve learned to rejoice. When times our joyful we have been able to enjoy our time and still smile and find joy in the mundane.
I’ve spoken a lot about miscarriages, and one of the reasons why is because until you haven’t experienced the pain, you don’t know what it’s like. Miscarriage isn’t just something that disappears after you have one, it’s something that stays with you for the rest of your life. You count every due date, every birthday, every heartbeat.
Today, I’m grateful for everything this baby taught me. You taught me to love and cherish my days even more. July 21st should have been one of the happiest days of our lives, and now it’ll look a little different. We rejoice that our baby is dwelling in the presence of God, and we long for the day we’ll get to hold you. I’m grateful for the memories I hold and for the love, I was able to experience through my angel baby.”
I really want to encourage all those mommas out there that are currently experiencing this grief. Whether your angel baby’s due date is soon or still a few months away, I want to tell you that I’m here for you. When you first get pregnant, the first thing you typically calculate is the due date because it is supposed to be the day your life changes; the happiest day of your life. But what I’ve learned is that the day my life actually changed was when I saw those two little pink lines. Why you might ask? Because this is the day I gave my all to this baby, I waited patiently for that due date, and when it didn’t happen, my life had already changed. The pain that we have to endure as mothers is heartbreaking. Please, know that you are not alone.
I patiently wait for the day I will get to hold my babies, however, I am so grateful to have the hope of knowing they are with there Savior. There are many things I’ve learned throughout these last few years, and one thing has been that if God is taking care of me, how would He not do the same for my babies? Remember that this day can be full of sorrow, but also know that God will one day wipe those tears away. I won’t get to meet my babies on this side of eternity, but man I cannot wait to meet them in the presence of God.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalms 23:1-4, 6 ESV
There are countless examples of generosity in the Bible, and frankly, the opposite. There is nothing sharper than the shock of learning what you’re not supposed to do the hard way. Those lessons we find are valuable and necessary to learn more about Jesus and ourselves. In the process of going over some of those, this story along with some other sentiments bubbled up needing to be told.
With that preface, this isn’t going to be a lovely and touching story about that time when someone was so generous to me that it changed my life forever. I do have those experiences in my adult life. My husband has shockingly lost his job twice in our 16 years together. He is the hardest worker I know, but the world is harsh, and things don’t always go our way. In both of those instances, we have had kind people who reached out and helped our family in ways that I will never forget. I truly saw the love of Jesus through those who helped and I am forever grateful. What I want to share is about my journey in generosity; the real and raw that comes from honest self-reflection.
A little background about me will help you understand my journey. My parents divorced when I was 3, and I am their only child. I lived with my mother for most of my childhood, where I experienced alcoholism and sexual abuse. It wasn’t all bad, I gained two amazing step-brothers who are now great parents and husbands. But, we were poor in more ways than one and struggled a lot growing up. When I look back, I can’t remember one person who stepped out in generosity towards me. I am sure that there were, but I couldn’t see past the pain and hurt in my situation. If their generosity didn’t make all the craziness end, it didn’t enter into my view. I didn’t realize this until much later in life, so I grew up thinking that there were no generous people in the world. In fact, if there were, I would never know them. I became hard to the world, on people, and on myself.
Living with a hard heart worked for me until I became a parent. Having kids changed my point of view. I didn’t want to have a hard heart, especially to my children. I wanted to be sweet and kind and tender. My children deserved to have a mom who was a break in the generational chain of dysfunction. I wanted them to be kind and generous people, but how can I teach them without doing it myself?
Let me tell you, I am wired to be selfish. In some ways, we all are, but with my beginnings and the anger I had about my childhood, I couldn’t be who I wanted to be. In my heart, I wanted to be generous, but I was afraid, not a little afraid, a lot afraid. It makes me vulnerable with my heart, my mind, my time, and my finances. With my previous experiences, I thought for sure I would be taken advantage of.
Where do I start with all of this?
Luke 6:38 NIV “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Counseling! Because I had to get to the source of the issue. I won’t go into great detail about this since we are focusing on generosity, but know that this is often the place to start, and Peace Restored can help! I needed to reanalyze my relationship with Jesus, other people, and myself.
My counselor taught me generosity doesn’t have to come straight from me. Generosity comes from experiencing the generosity of Jesus. His forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, and understanding that provides me with what is necessary for me to be the kind of person I want to be and who my children deserve. If I relied on myself only, for a pool of generosity to draw from, I would come up empty every time. This is one of the many gifts that Jesus has given me! When you feel that unconditional pure love, your desire for others to feel it too becomes a reality. This is the core of generosity.
There are still times that I should have been more generous than I was. I am a work in progress. Being generous with your time and money takes trust. Trust that God is a part of our world and that your gift isn’t in vain. It takes learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and the gentle way he communicates with us. These both are learned habits just as generosity for some of us, is a learned habit.
This is sincere encouragement from myself to you. Examine what you do and where your finances go. Are they different from what you want it to be? Take the first step in changing that by reengaging with Jesus. Work on your relationship with Him and trust Him! Listen to the Holy Spirit’s gentleness in your life, in your head, and through others. There is a special place just for you, where your time and finances can make the biggest difference. And when you fall back from it, don’t beat yourself up, just restart the process. I love you big, and myself big, because Jesus loves us all BIG!
The writer for this piece wishes to remain anonymous. They want the words to help someone but as the information in this blog is sensitive, the writer will be kept anonymous for confidentiality reasons.
The unimaginable happened; I became a widow at the age of 42 on June 25, 2011. Kirk left early that morning to get some work caught up at the shop he owned. That day, he died in a workplace accident. Before the day finished, he was gone.
He didn’t answer Emily’s (my daughter) or my call for dinner that evening. Not answering his phone was unusual, so we went to his workplace shop, but we were too late to save him. My husband of 18 years, her dad of nine years, was called Home, to Heaven.
After the funeral services, the events to celebrate life, the well-wishes, people go home. When people start to go back to their own life, that’s when you have to find your new normal. I knew I would need help. I knew my daughter would need help after losing her dad. We both attended counseling through our church. I participated in a grief support group and searched for more resources to help me walk through this profound grief.
Something I utilized as a resource was a Christian Widow’s conference. At the conference, I met some amazing women who joined me on this path, blessing me immensely! Many more amazing people came alongside me to support and encourage; they walked this journey through widowhood with me. God provided these people at a time community was essential. He is so Good, and through community and other resources, He taught me He is with me through every fire, every tear!
During my counseling, we discussed a part of my healing would be to help other widows who had just started their journeys. In the fall of 2016, God gave me an idea to offer “widow bags” to new widows and their children/teenagers. The idea was there, it was a strong desire that I needed to obey, but I had no idea how to make that dream a reality. Through some research, I was pointed to Ann Madison (Executive Director) at Peace Restored. Ann and I met in March of 2017, and we clicked. She loved the idea of the “widow bags.” From that meeting, we planned and met with organizations within the community. Several community organizations loved the idea and helped us make the bag idea into reality. With the “widow bags,” we were able to reach out to new widows and families!
From God laying the “widow bags,” on my heart, to orchestrating Ann and I meeting, to providing help from the community organizations, God did something else! God reminded me of the community He had provided and how vital that was to my healing journey. Ann and I discussed and prayerfully considered what to do with that. Soon after, Peace Restored started a Young Widows Club to provide a built-in community for young widows, a vital part of the healing journey. God grew our group from one person during the late fall of 2017 to over twenty women served through Peace Restored! God has blessed the Young Widows Club in many ways; we still offer those “widows bags” to new widows, we have started annual widows treat, and we can provide continued support for young widows.
Even though this is not a group that we wanted to join, it’s a blessing to find others that share your heartache and loss. Being able to walk beside these wonderful women has blessed me so much. I always say that they bless me more than I could ever bless them. God has richly blessed me, and I give Him all of the glory.
Every day, I pray Gods’ blessings will continue to shine on our women and Peace Restored.
God has truly blessed me.
To Him be all the praise and glory!
Angela Key was born in Indianapolis and was raised in Mooresville. There she graduated from Mooresville High School and after secondary school and marriage, her and her late husband Kirk stayed in the area to raise their daughter Emily. In June of 2011, they tragically lost Kirk in an accident at his workplace. As time has passed, Angela began to take classes through Indiana Wesleyan for Biblical Studies and also took a class for Biblical Counseling through Rod and Staff Ministries. She always had a desire to help other women who find themselves in a similar situation being a widow and being left as the only caregiver. Angela experienced that through the love of Jesus and leaning on Him for strength, she could find a new normal and be able to reach back to help other women on their widow journey. She works full time as a Certified Professional Coder for Community Physician’s Network. In her spare time, she likes to read and enjoys watching Emily play travel and high school soccer.
“He’s in a better place,”
“Oh honey, everything happens for a reason,”
“God needed another angel,” and last but not least
“Aren’t you over him yet, he’s been gone for a while?”
Most people have the best intentions when using these phrases but these words for the woman, who lost the one she chose to go through life with, often lead to isolation and more despair. Losing a spouse is one of the hardest things we endure in this lifetime. Research reveals that spousal bereavement can open the door to problems such as depression, chronic stress and anxiety, and even a reduced life expectancy if not dealt with in a healthy manner.
We have come to know this devastation as grief. Unfortunately, it leaves widows with difficult and dark emotions that never asked permission to be invited into their lives. Many books have been written on the stages of grief. A popular theory is from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Stages of Grieving, where one goes through each step of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Yet these stages were never meant to take the plight of emotions in a well-organized scheduled manner. Emotions from grief are messy and often leave the widower crippled with pain. We become angry at the person leaving us, mad at ourselves as we could have done things differently, or even angry with God because He could have done something to intervene. We bargain, promising to do things differently in return for easing the pain. All the while, sadness, guilt, and even depression creeps in steeling our mere existence.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
There’s a famous saying in the grief community, “Grief is like a tunnel, to come out of it you must first enter.” Grief requires us to sit with our pain. It asks us to put one foot in front of the other, trusting that this incredible sadness will someday open doors to a new meaning and purpose for this lifetime. Yet so often, we want to hurry the process and numb the pain. Why wouldn’t we? The grief process is laborious, and we have jobs to get back to, children to be healthy for, the list goes on. Yet over time, those feelings accumulate, and if we do not deal with them, they usually have a way of reentering at the most inopportune times.
Significant transformations come in those baby steps, and before you know it, those hundreds of steps bring you to the other side of the tunnel. In the therapeutic world, this is called acceptance. You get to call it what seems most appropriate to you.
But the most important thing to remember is that this is your story and your story matters. Healing comes when we engage in our story. God is coauthoring your epic storyline.
We at Peace Restored would love to hear it!
As we (Peace Restored) continue discussing the topic of widowhood, we want to offer another
a resource to those who may find themselves grieving:
A book titled, “From One Widow to Another” By Miriam Neff.
From one widow to another or from one story to another, we believe this book is filled with practical help and encouragement in the face of profound loss.
Here’s the link if you or a friend could use this: https://amzn.to/2USuSWF
Grief is never singular; it’s always multifaceted. I never fully grasped the depth of this concept until I walked through it myself.
I met my husband about two years into his journey with illness; we got married despite the risks because our love made it all worth it. But the journey itself was life-changing for both of us. I can honestly say that it was the hardest 13 years of my life. I can also honestly say that I would walk through it all again, to learn and experience what I have about my Lord Jesus.
My husband, Steve, spent 15 years fighting to survive and striving for some quality of life, undergoing 21 surgeries in the process, and enduring one complication after another. Countless times, the doctors told him he would not survive. Countless times, God miraculously pulled him through.
After Steve went to Heaven in January of 2013, my grief became complicated by so many emotions.I had prayed for years for God to heal him here on earth, but toward the end, I prayed for God to end his suffering, even if it meant taking him to heaven. I was to the point that I would rather be without him than continue to watch him suffer and deteriorate. But we also had a daughter together…praying for God to take him home meant she would suffer without her daddy.
However, pain changes people. Sickness and meds change people. Steve went through a period of three years, where the meds made him mean and abusive. During that time, I completely shut down emotionally to survive and to keep the household functioning for my daughter. In my heart, I hated him for the pain he was causing my daughter and me, and I hated myself for the way I felt. I just wanted my husband back. So, I prayed for God to either fix him or take him.
Then Steve went through another surgery; the doctor changed his meds and the man I fell in love with gradually came back to me…to an extent. The man that came back to me was a much older version of himself as if he had aged 30 years. My husband went from being a God-loving, kind, passionate young man to a manipulative monster, to a gentle, fragile grandfather. He loved our daughter, but couldn’t remember to brush his teeth, turn off the gas burner on the stove, or stop at the red traffic lights.
So needless to say, after Steve went home to be with the Lord, my grief was all over the place. My overwhelming emptiness and internal deadness accompanied by 2-ton guilt; I asked God to heal him, then take the monster away, bring his youth back, take dementia away, and finally, to rescue him from this world.
I had prayed an emotional rollercoaster of prayers about the father of my precious child who worshipped the ground he walked on. She was living without her father after I had prayed for God to take him. All the while, I wanted him to come back to me, to us. God had the power to heal him but chose not to. God didn’t owe me anything, but I wanted him to give us this one. He didn’t, and yet I was supposed to trust Him with my heart.
In the months after Steve went to heaven, I felt empty. I felt GUILTY. I felt dead inside. I felt grateful that God had ended his suffering and angry at God for not keeping him here. I felt furious at myself for asking God to take Bekah’s daddy away. I felt so overwhelmingly sad. I felt free from the horror of watching him suffer from the danger his dementia would put us in. I felt GUILTY about feeling free.
I also felt scared. How was I supposed to do life without my husband? How was I supposed to raise this beautiful child by myself? How was I supposed to maintain a house and 10 acres without help? How was I supposed to support us financially? How could I ever feel joy again with so much emptiness in my heart? Why did no one understand? Why couldn’t I find one friend who gets it?
In a desperate attempt to survive and heal, I ran to God’s Word; I clung to Him with every breath, just like I did when Steve was at death’s door over and over again.
I had a daily ritual of praying this necessary prayer before the start of every day:
“Lord, this is Your day…You created it, and because all my days were written by You since before I was born, You already know what this day will hold for us. You know everything we need to survive today. So Lord, be King over this day; may Your will be done, no matter what that looks like. Don’t let anything come into our day that is outside Your will.”
This prayer was the one thing that gave me peace. My motto had become, “God’s Got This.”
After Steve passed, I went back to this prayer again. Laying everything in God’s hands had calmed my anxiety and brought me peace before Steve died, and so it would again. I clung to God and surrendered to His authority every day. I knew that as long as I was securely in His hands, and He was in control of my days, Bekah and I would be OK.
And we were OK…and we still are. After 7-1/2 years of widowhood, after losing seven more loved ones in just a few years, after walking through the throws of grief, Bekah and I are still OK. God always has us in the palm of His hand, and He is healing us through His Word and His care, one day at a time.
Not that it’s easy. Satan still tries his best to defeat us, but God is bigger. Satan tries to beat us down by lying to our hearts. He loves to tell me, “You’re never going to find love again; you’re too old and have too much baggage for anyone to want you. You’re never going to be enough all on your own. You’re incomplete, and so is Bekah. She’s going to grow up with tons of holes in her life without her daddy; she’s going to become a statistic. Life has been too much for you; you should give up now.”
Satan does his best to convince us, but he doesn’t get to win. To combat the lies, I went back to what I have always done—clinging to His truth. The promises that tell me that God is my provider, He’s my (and Bekah’s) Father, God is my protector, He is my caretaker, God loves me, He knows me thoroughly, God will work all things for our good, He is my counselor, He is sovereign over my life. God is always good.
The truth of God’s Word wins over the lies of Satan EVERY. TIME. So I wash Satan’s deceptions from the walls of my heart and paint God’s truth over them, as many times per day, as is needed to gain victory over that day.
A victorious life is the accumulation of many victorious days. That is how I survive widowhood. One day, one hour, one moment, one battle at a time. One foot in front of the other, trusting God with everything, letting Him lead.
Shawna is a country girl who has a love for animals and nature, but as a widow and homeschool mama, her deepest passion is reserved for the Lord and her 16-year-old daughter. Shawna has experienced many losses and hardships in her lifetime, but God has faithfully carried her through every trial and has used every struggle to shape her into the woman she is today. Her deepest desire is to allow God to use her story and her life to encourage, strengthen, heal, and empower women in every difficulty and walk of life.
Shawna has written and taught women’s Bible studies for many years and also does public speaking for women’s events. She enjoys sharing with others the many testimonies of God’s unending faithfulness and grace. She has a passion for the Bible and for bringing others to the saving love of Jesus Christ.
Domestic violence comes in unique packages, often missed by the naked eye.
I had no idea how rapidly my life was about to change. I had taken a new job at a hospital across town. As a single mom for ten years, I was independent, successful, and content. Shortly after, a colleague suddenly stopped me saying, “Girl, I know the man you’d make a perfect suitor for- he is a doctor.” The colleague’s name? Pandora. Perhaps that should have been my first clue. In Greek mythology, when Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus, the king of the gods, took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus. Pandora opened a box, left in her care, containing sickness, death, and countless other evils released into the world.
I initiated, and we met. We had a lot in common, but he was not a Christian, so the relationship came to a halt. He, however, pursued a spiritual interest, asking if he could go to church with me, confessed he was missing something in his life. He honored every one of my boundaries, kept an emotional distance, and began attending church, meeting folks, and within several months, confessed he got “saved.”
We married, and shortly after conceived a son. He no longer wanted me to work, but to live my dream of staying home with the children. Everything seemed like a fairytale. Then it began. Women called the home phone, asking to speak to my husband by his first name. He reassured me these were women who didn’t know he had married. Yet, I thought, they had my landline number. Playboy magazines began to arrive in the mail. He had a subscription and would cancel it. I realized as honest as he said he was, he was hiding habits.
It wasn’t long until conflict broke out between him and my children. He began pitting one person against another. Then, child porn was found on the home computer with his name attached to a PayPal site. He blamed my children, rationalizing he was a man, not a child, that this was their problem. Then, one day out of the blue, he said, “I need to get out of this town; let’s move.” He was now eight years out of his first bankruptcy and filed another.
I began to get sick, my hair was falling out, and we didn’t have insurance. My husband told me I could go to the health store, but not a doctor. He was yelling all the time. I became withdrawn. As the years went by, his conflict with the children grew. I heard him in the garage, yelling at my 14-year-old daughter. She screamed in terror; the door swung open as she raced up the stairs; he was just behind her with a baseball bat, shouting. I ran up those stairs, grabbed that bat, and told him to leave. He would not.
It wouldn’t be long before his anger would spill out on me. As I sought to confront him on his sociopathic behaviors, he responded, well, like a sociopath. He grabbed me by both arms, leaving marks. He shoved me against the wall and, spittle flying, told me he hated me. The night he spent in jail did more to unsettle me than it did him. Therein may be the most insidious thing about domestic violence, that tip of the spear where the mental and the physical come together- fear of violence coupled with a fear that it is the victim’s fault.
I forgave. I trudged on. I stood by this man through more infidelities, more betrayals, more acts of violence, more crimes, more character assassination. I sought help from my church that tossed us both aside as hindrances to the image the church wished to maintain. In the end, he left, and in his trail was all the destruction that had poured forth from Pandora’s Box.
I’m depressed. I say that as a way to help someone understand that depression is hard, it’s debilitating. Depression has made me not want to accept what’s ahead for my life; it’s caused me to halt. I’m unable to do things I did because fear has crippled me. Thankfully, this has started to change, and I’ve started to settle into a new normal. The roots of depression entangle me on more occasions than I care to admit.
Someone close to me became ill in the last few years, and I’ve had to adjust to a new normal of the routine they need and caring for them while still trying to take care of myself. Since this began, I have struggled with purpose, not my intention but Gods’. I have often wondered, what is the point of all this sickness? It seemed as conditions worsened; all I heard were painful stories from others. I started to question the Lord, is your plan perfect? If your plan is perfect, how could this be happening? How can I feel this way? But even in my questioning, I never stopped believing in God; He saved me, and I can’t forget that.
I began to cry out, asking God to lift the sickness and the depression. I pray these things with the understanding that He may not, and that’s scary. Sometimes, I think, maybe I’m praying the wrong thing. I want to pray Gods’ will be done, and at the same time, that prayer is terrifying for my current reality. I know I should trust the Lord, but this depression over me has started to overtake what I feel, everything I think becomes corrupted by this. It makes me question trusting our Sovereign Lord, and that scares me! When I sit and think about these things, I get lost in how I feel. I know how blessed I am, and I feel so guilty for feeling my feelings. When the Lord first saved my life, all I wanted was to be with Him! When the sickness began, my attitude and relationships changed. I desperately wanted normal again. But God has changed my routine, and I’m reluctantly learning to accept that.
I thought it would help me to adjust if I developed a better understanding of His purpose. To do so, I turned to trusted friends and some family. If I’m honest, reaching out to them made me feel as if I were a burden. I repeated the same mantra of caretaker and depression. I irritated myself by discussing it too much or not enough. Every time I shared my struggle, I became reassured that I wasn’t a burden, and I wasn’t sharing too much or not enough; it was what I needed. These people made me feel as if sharing was okay. I needed that reassurance each time to keep going, and I’m thankful for people who don’t write you off when you’re not over your circumstance. These trusted friends gave useful and encouraging advice on caring for that person and walking with Jesus. The advice didn’t lift the depression, but it made everything a little lighter, the burden a little less, and forced me to think about what those encouragers said. I often thought about, how I could serve the ill person in my life more, what is something I could make myself do for a sense of normalcy, and what is something positive I can be doing? Of course, these weren’t end-all solutions; the depression still entangles me.
The depression may still have a hold on me, but God lovingly calls me out on my motives. Are my reasons for serving this person to make myself feel better, or are they indeed with love? He continually reminds me to do these things with trust and love for Him. Sometimes, doing these things with the right motivations is all the energy I have, it’s hard and scary. It’s been hard to adjust to life with depression and becoming a caretaker to someone so close to me. My depression has a root cause so that I can pinpoint the source. Knowing the source doesn’t make it easier. As someone who believes in Jesus, I fight the battle almost daily between depression and clinging to the truths of God. On any given day, either side can win. Sometimes, the depression side wins so often, I feel hopeless, but God always rescues me, no matter how many times I lose in my daily battle.
The writer of this post wishes to remain anonymous
The writer for this piece wishes to remain anonymous. They want the words to help someone but as the information in this blog is sensitive, the writer will be kept anonymous for confidentiality reasons.
“Let’s go around the table and share a childhood memory.”
The person asking this had no idea what incredibly profound panic that question evoked in one of the ladies sitting at the table. I knew because I had felt that panic once myself.
This dear friend sitting across the table from me, processing that question, had started telling me her story. We had sat in her house the week before, and she discussed certain times of the day and certain things people did that triggered her because they reminded her of the things she had experienced as a child. I knew, from the look of terror that instantly filled her eyes, and her demeanor, that had become very stiff and carefully controlled; she had been transported to a dark place by that question. She needed time to think of an answer that would not cause shock. I immediately jumped in with one of my fun childhood stories so that she would have the time it would take for every other person sharing around the table before she had to say anything. Her childhood had NOT been safe or ideal, unlike the other ladies there. She experienced abuse from those who should have been her protectors. How could she say anything to this group who just would not understand or have any idea?
Before she shared her story with me, she had learned to trust me. No one can demand trust; we earn it! She heard some of my story and knew I worked in a home for girls like her for seven years. We can learn to trust others to a certain extent, who demonstrate particular characteristics and approaches. For those who are not familiar with this trauma, picture this, we are dealing with a trauma patient coming in from an accident scene. We must make an initial assessment of the overall damage. We stop the worst bleeding first, set broken bones, then repair other areas. For this trauma, the harm has to be restored with life-giving hope and truth. We must not try to put a bandaid on the gaping wounds.
When addressing this young lady, I needed to consider her needs and not my plan. My agenda easily could have been to fix her, but I needed to gain an understanding of what she needed to start her healing process. I couldn’t come in with pride, speed, and a “quick fix” plan. A wise Proverb(18:13) in the Bible tells us that we would look like fools if we try to answer grief without hearing the story first. I had to understand weakness and healing takes place slowly on God’s schedule for her, not mine!
It does seem like it takes a long time before God gets us to the point of healing sometimes. Something to note is that specific dynamics need to take place with the sufferer and with the one offering comfort. The sufferer needs to process the agony, the questions, and the hard things. From the book in the Bible, Job, we learn what not to say, how not to point to the person, their weaknesses, and even possible sin. We instead learn about the God of love, mercy, and comfort as we teach them to look back to God. We learn a great deal of patience as that person deals with the healing process of grief. We cannot offer quick remedies for deep wounds. We who are strong must bear with those who are weak (right now) instead of rushing the process to ease our burdens.
The ultimate goal of any counsel offered is always to enable you to find full restoration of your hope in God, through Jesus Christ first, and then in others. We often are confused when we suffer (especially this way), and in the initial stages, we are so crushed, we cannot do anything but hang on to God and survive as the mind, emotions, and body seek to heal. Just like you would not expect someone who had open-heart surgery to jump off the operating table and walk out, so healing is a process with this deadly assault on your physical body but also on your mind, will, and emotions. Current medical research has shown that emotional trauma causes the same kinds of damage to the nerves, organs, and other body functions, as does a physical wound. The same brain centers are activated, and the same kinds of healing mechanisms are needed to heal emotional trauma as are used to treat bodily injury. Just like no one would ever tell someone to make a physical scar go away, we will not ask you to “just get over it and get on with life.” Healing must take place on God’s schedule for you.
We want to validate your suffering as the Lord does. Jesus said, “I am a faithful high priest touched with the feeling of human pain.” (Hebrews 4:15) He sees it, and He feels it, and He cares! A counselor or sufferer does not dictate the time table for healing; God dictates it. Our role in both positions is to submit to how God chooses to teach and heal your heart.
Therefore, our goal is to offer a look at God concerning this trauma. As 2 Corinthians 1:3 tells us that He is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” We seek to offer you hope, comfort for your fainting heart, and support for your weakness as we exercise patience, kindness, and gentleness while instilling confidence for the healing that can take place.
Ruth E. Meed BA, MAT, MS, as an author, speaker, and musician, was born the first of twin girls in Ethiopia, and at age 9 moved with her family to Ontario, Canada, and then on to New Brunswick. She earned a Diploma of Biblical and Theological Studies from New Brunswick Bible Institute, a BA in Counseling from Washington Bible College, an MAT in Special Education, and an MEd in Biblical Counseling from Bob Jones University. Ruth is a “Highly Qualified” certified Special Educator, with 27 years of experience including working for 7 years in a home for abused and neglected girls as well as teaching in public and private schools and most recently as a university assistant professor. With her wealth of leadership, teaching, and counseling experience, she offers her services through consulting, speaking, podcast interviews, and publishing. She has published a Bible study: Is God There? 34 ways God Says That He Is Faithful (Dec 2018), a biography of a Pastor, My life Story (Feb, 2019) through T. E. A. M., 3 Ministries, and a Christ-honoring music CD through Stringenberg Music Studio releasing Beside Gentle Streams: Hope for Hurting Hearts in March of 2018.