Sunday, October 28, 2007

A MATTER OF FAITH

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Lately I have been pondering my faith. I have been wondering how big of a role my “faith” has played in my life in the last 18, or so, months. Faith is an interesting concept. I think it has different connotations to different people. The word “faith” has many of its own clich├ęs, “keep the faith”, “you got to have faith”, “oh ye of little faith”, “I have faith in you”. You can probably think of more. There seems to be an underlying theme to all of the connotations and that is that there is a belief, but we really don’t know for sure, there’s no proof. I guess if proof was involved, then faith would be unnecessary. This belief is the basis from which our faith, “being certain of things we do not see”, grows.

For me, my beliefs, the soil from which my faith grows, run very deep. I was born into a “religious” (another of those different connotation sort of words) family. My entire life I have been absorbing scripture, Sunday school stories, excellent sermons, etc. So many things make up who I am but these things are certainly part of the equation. I have heard about the “wise man building his house upon the rock“, for decades. I have sung the song about “will your anchor hold” for decades as well. The message has been consistent, when the storms of life come, as we know they will, will we be washed into the sea as the proverbial foolish man who built his house on the sand? I really believe my “solid foundation” is a result of my upbringing and a conscious decision to work at building a solid relationship with my Creator and Savior. Without that, without knowing that God is a God of mercy, grace and love, I’m not sure how I could have survived (there’s that word again) these last 18 months.

So is it real? Am I just trying to convince myself that somehow I’m better off today because I pray or I attend church? I’ve heard it said that religion, faith, Christianity is for the weak. There are those who say it’s a crutch. I know there is nothing I can write here that would convince those folks to think differently. I just know me. I know that I have needed crutches at various times in my life. They were real, they held me up. I believe in a good God. Where’s the evidence? There’s so much death, violence, disease. Why does God allow these things? I haven’t gotten that one completely figured out. I know it’s a fallen and broken world. I do believe God is at work redeeming the bad. In my life I can see God at work making something new and beautiful. I know it’s His handiwork. I’ve never met Shakespeare in person but I believe he existed because of the incredible works he created that bear his name. He is dead and gone and no longer produces such works. God, however, is not dead and the evidence of His existence continues to amaze me every day. We really just need to take notice.

Granted, this is easier to “state” now than it would have been 12 months ago. At that time I was hurting, and questioning everything. I thank God that during that stormy time, He held me close, my anchor held, and my house (life) did not wash into the sea.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MOVING ON / LETTING GO

I remember reading something somewhere early on after the 7th of May 2006 about the difference between “moving on” and “letting go”. It struck me at that time as a concept that is likely true but seemingly impossible. The article explained that a widow/widower inevitably must move on. He must go back to his home and life. He must keep eating, sleeping, going to work. His life is shattered but he must carry on as best as possible. Healing begins one day at a time. “Letting go” is much different. It involves more of a release, or disengaging. It is said to be a “conscious choice; a mental act that requires free will and effort” Unlike “moving on” they say “letting go” is not something that has to happen, but they do say that “letting go” is “is vital to the healing of the bereaved beyond the mere functionality of moving on”.

When I look back, I remember thinking that this letting go process would be one of the most difficult tasks of my grief. How could I let go of a wonderful 30 year relationship. A relationship with the one person who knew me and loved me more than anyone else ever did or ever could. The concept seemed very undoable. I remember talking to another widower where I work about this. He said that he had reached that point, that he had let go of the pain of his past and was looking forward to his future life. I could only say that I wasn’t there. Inside I knew that for me to ever be happy again I would need to be able to do that. I could see the lives of many of the widowers I knew and could see that they must have been able to let go (or act like they had). So I knew it must be possible.

There are many “mental” choices to be made along this grief journey. Whether to go to someone’s home for a meal, whether to stay involved at church, whether to attend a support group, etc. To decide, to make the mental choice, to accept that my spouse is dead, will not be coming back, will not be “angry/hurt/mortified/disappointed” by my future, requires time and much healing. Experts say that many widowers never let go. They move on but never “let go”.

Here’s the deal, as hard as it is to do, “letting go” of the past is a critical step when starting a new relationship. I know “letting go” does not mean forgetting or denying the love that was shared but it means understanding that the past, that relationship, doesn’t exist any more. That’s where I am now. For some time, starting a few months ago, I have worked and worked at letting Carol go. I believe she would have wanted me to do that. Those who have “been there” know how difficult that is and for those who haven’t, they don’t have a clue! ....I have fallen in love again. God has brought another amazing woman into my life. She will not “replace” Carol. We are building a brand new relationship that is based on who each of us is and that includes our relationship with our first spouse. Some experts say that it IS possible for grief and love to co-exist. I believe the example of love multiplying, not being divided, as in when a second child is born to a loving Mom and Dad is true. They do not love their first child any less. God miraculously supplies more love for us to give. Some would say, also, that it is impossible to love a deceased spouse. What we love is the memories we have of them.

I am optimistic and excited about the kids and my future. There remains a huge whole in our life from when Carol died. We are working at engaging in life. I am eager to apply the lessons I’ve learned, many of them taught to me by Carol, to a new relationship. I can’t thank God enough for the years I was blessed to be Carol’s husband and now I am thankful, certainly not for losing Carol, but for finding life and love again.
God is good!