Sunday, July 22, 2007

Remember the well known saying from the Forest Gump movie “Life is like a box of chocolates...”? Lately I’ve been thinking that life is like a box of jigsaw pieces. God has put all the parts and pieces that make up our life into “box” and says “this is the life I’m giving you”. It seems like then it is up to us to put it together and make something useful and even beautiful of what He has given us. In the box is our genetic make up, the legacy handed down from past generations, the people God puts in our lives, our schooling, our jobs, and circumstance, everything about us goes in the box. I believe the instructions for putting our life together are included, if we pay attention. We have guidelines and we have a picture to follow, but we can only see the picture through a clouded glass, which makes it tough. We try, we do the best we can, but sometimes, it seems, the parts don’t fit together all that well. Sometimes, it seems, we place some of the pieces in the wrongs positions and that makes our picture seem less “perfect”.
But what about when some of the pieces have been taken away or lost. No one likes a puzzle that has pieces missing. After all the work of getting everything right only to find a key piece is lost is frustrating and takes some of the fun away from the entire effort. When we lose a loved one, we’ve lost a major piece of our life’s puzzle. The picture we are working so hard to make into something special is now impossible to complete. It seems the only thing we can do is to try to make the picture turn out as best we can with the pieces that are left. We can make something, some sort of picture, but it is not the one we’ve been working so hard to get just right.
So here’s the question. Is it possible to take another puzzle, someone else’s box of pieces, someone who has also lost major pieces of their puzzle, and combine it with yours and construct a complete, new, picture? If there are two different boxes, two different pictures, which were in various stages of completion, can those pieces now make one picture? Can something beautiful be salvaged from two boxes with missing pieces by combining them? Can the new picture be anything like the originals were going to be. If any one were to ask me, my answer would be absolutely. It is possible, not because we are so skilled at putting puzzles together ourselves, but because the giver of the puzzle, the creator of the pieces, can do miracles! At certain times in our lives we see them happen. We are able see through the clouded glass a little more perceptively at times; at other times our Creator recreates our picture, miracles. We are able to see a new set of possibilities for the new picture utilizing the pieces of the new puzzle that is now mixed in with our original. With effort and our Creator’s guiding hand we are able to work at the new puzzle. We are able to see where the new pieces fit in with the existing ones. One of the special arrangements the Creator has with us is that we can ask if we are doing it right. We can ask for help throughout the endeavor. He will guide our puzzle solving efforts. Something new and beautiful can be completed.
I know this is true because I see it happening in my life!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


“The fact that someone this incredibly EXTRA-ordinary married me is, without question, my greatest source of pride. To have someone of such caliber, of such magnitude, say “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you” goes beyond mere words. It’s a mitzvah, a blessing.” YWBB

The above quote was part of a post on the Young Widowed Bulletin Board that I frequently check in on. I thought it was so “right on” that I had to hang on to it and read it over and over. In these last 14 months or so I have come to realize what a blessing it was to have shared my life with Carol. To have received the gift of love that we shared was truly amazing. To have that gift removed when there was so much left for us to enjoy was the worst possible outcome I could have imagined. The kids and I were put in a role of being “those other people” who had to go through what we did.
What do you do? What choice do you have? We leaned on our church family, we leaned on relatives, we leaned on our friends, co-workers, and anyone who offered a hand (and still do). Most of all we leaned on God. My faith has remained strong. Even while questioning what He was thinking, how could this happen to the best person I knew and her loved ones, I knew we were held in God’s hands. I knew Carol was loved and we were/are loved by the very creator God that loved us into existence. I found out that this horrible thing happens to more couples than I ever imagined. I knew that I had a “journey” ahead of me and that if I was going to experience any sort of healing, it would require work. I couldn’t expect God to just make me whole again. It would require active participation on my part.
I am thankful for the books that I’ve read, that some of the people who’ve experienced this sort of loss themselves have written about their experiences and thus helped others of us. I am thankful for Widowed Person Services in this area who kept sending me invitations to their meetings even when I was not brave enough to go to the meetings. Those monthly invitations also convinced me that I needed something like that to go to, to fellowship with other widows who, now, I had this one thing in common with. Our area is extremely blessed to have a young widowed group facilitated by Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Bob DeVries, themselves widowed early in their marriages and authors of several books on surviving the death of a spouse. The meetings, the talks, the wisdom of those who have “been there” have been a tremendous help to me. Even writing in my journal and on these blog pages have helped me “work out” many of my feelings. I am thankful that God has never let me go. He has held on tightly.
What now? Now the question is where I am now in this journey and how do I proceed? One of the books I’ve read has a section explaining the difference between resignation and acceptance. “Resignation is surrender to fate, Acceptance is surrender to God . . . “ I really believe I have reached a level of acceptance, of healing, such that I can be excited about the future. I still look back from time to time, and I think I always will, but I am interested in seeing what God has in store for me in the future. I feel that I have a lot of life to live yet while on this earth and I wish for happiness. One of the questions that I was thinking about a few months ago was, knowing that Carol would wish me to be happy, what would make me happy? The obvious answer is to have Carol back, but that is just not likely to happen so, other that, what will make me happy. The answer is nothing will make me happy. I have to pursue happiness; I have to choose to find happiness in other things, in other people God brings into my life. I pray that I am ready for that. I pray that I am ready to love and be loved again. I thank God for the people He continues to bring into my life. I am thankful that my winter is turning into spring before my very eyes.
Another of the books I have read is a book of poems. The title is March Before Spring. The very last poem in the book is titled Passage.


Suppose I moved your photo
from the bedroom into the hall—
would your eyes still be patient as I

hurried past you to answer the phone,
start the washer, rush out the door?

Suppose I wore my wedding ring
on my right hand? Would the nakedness
shame me, make me too available?

Suppose I liked the sound of his voice,
the way he kissed my shoulder?

Suppose I were walking on a bridge
that began to sway too much and I ran
to the other side instead of heading back.

-Stephanie Mendel
March Before Spring

The image of a swinging bridge over a deep canyon swaying in the winds is very fitting to where I have been. Suppose I run to the other side instead of heading back . . . . I remain in God’s hands.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5 NKJV).