Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mighty Widows

7:55 p.m. Today's project was to attend the two widows' support groups I joined shortly after my husband Steve passed away in January. Interestingly enough, both groups meet on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

Calvary Chapel's "Widows' Might" is named after the widow in Luke 21:3, who came to give her offering at the temple. In that day, there was no taxpayer-financed safety net, so unless a widow had sons and or other family to support her, she could become destitute indeed. On this occasion, the wealthy gave large sums into the treasury, but Jesus commended this poor widow for giving two mites (lepta, very small copper coins):

Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.

At the Widows' Might, after enjoying a beautiful worship time, our leader Roberta focuses us on a scriptural theme or a Psalm, as she shared her learning from Psalm 37-8 today.

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in the way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret--it only causes harm. 

Some months, we have a Bible study taught by one of the group. We share prayer requests, our own testimonies of the way the Lord is upholding us through the Word,  His faithfulness through very hard trials, and even the amazing way He may be using us, the majority ladies in their 80's, to witness and reach out to others. As we close in a circle of prayer, we are assured by the Lord that He is with and among us, even if the world might see us as occupying a very disadvantageous position! I don't generally join the others for lunch, because I need to go home, rest a bit, and today, for example, deal with a plumbing problem, before heading out to another wonderful widows/bereavement group, "Mending Hearts: Building a Network of Support."

Mending Hearts meets in the home of Kathy Potts, a widow of five years, and adopted mom of handicapped teens. Most of the ladies, of all ages and stages of loss, attend Palm Canyon Church. I first joined the group on February 10 for a lavish Valentines Day luncheon, only a month after losing Steve. We do very specific sharing and ministry to one another, building strong bonds of love, and end with a potluck meal. On February 24, we put together "Care Packages" in large bins meant to last a crisis-stricken family for a week, until they can get their bearings after a tragedy or loss.

March's topic was "Alphabet Soup" of pertinent healing scriptures and frank discussion. "The Power of Empathy," in April, led to an emotional discussion of the way Jesus empathizes--"Jesus wept," John 11:35--as one of us, with our hurts and sorrows. Hebrews 4:15 says,

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  

We shared the empathy we have received and given in our journey of loss. May's topic, "Please Don't Say That!" says it all.What we don't want is quick quips or false hopes. We need to recognize that "we live in a fallen world, and it often falls on us." We want what Jesus told us in John 16:33:

I have told you these things that in Me you might have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.

"Peace. With one word Jesus quiets the quest of our soul. We thirst for peace--shalom, wholeness, stillness, rest, healing. Take heart. Hope. Come alive again....If all we do is talk about life's losses, then that too fails to tell the whole story. We need to be able to deal with life's losses in the context of God's healing."

The June 15 meeting (which I missed due to my Chicago trip with son Steven) was a balloon launch in honor of our loved ones who have gone to heaven before us.

Today we discussed, "Don't Let Grief be Contagious." and we discussed this contrast: grief is a wound, not a sickness, and loss isn't contagious. We were asked to color in the emotions that best describe us--today.

I colored in three choices in the "Tangled Ball of Grief," whereas many of the ladies selected several. I first colored "Yearning," because I wish that my "Original Steve" was still with me. But I had to admit "Relief," because of the tormented, anguished, lost, helpless person he became in his last years.Then I had to acknowledge "Loneliness'" because I don't have a certain, intimate, soul mate to do life with any more. That doesn't mean I am not joyful and happy with the life God has designed for me most of the time, it's just a fact. I am now single, not married.

As we talked, some shared their feeling of being lost, others had wise counsel for relating to others who want to know how to talk with you about your loved one. Let them know it's all right to talk about them. One gal found it wonderfully comforting to re-read her sympathy cards, and others concurred. I believe I will do that tonight!

Our lesson ended with Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV):

Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, yearning, relief and loneliness. What a great graphic expercise. How were those sympathy cards in rereading them? So important to do the work of grief. I wish I had been blogging when I was a widow, but do remember so much of those eight years.

    Now I appreciate not being lonely, even though the road of a spouse-caregiver is a difficult one as you know.

    Hugs and prayers,