For quite a while I've been avoiding it like the plague. "That's not me.' "That's not how I want to be known." "I don't want reminded." Soooo many reason to say no. No to joining meetings or workshops or online groups. No to attending "sessions" or even partaking of group phone calls. But recently I decided that my pain would not be for naught. I accepted the call to join an online widows group. God I hate that word. A word I'd never wish on my worst enemy. A word that changes your molecular structure until your final breath. A word that throws you into an identity crisis. A word that no one sees coming.
People treat you differently when you respond with that word after they ask why you're not married. "So young," I hear regularly before the pity hits. Expressions change, behaviors change, hearts change, all because of five letters.
I don't want to be known as a widow. I want to pretend that it never happened. I want to believe it was a bad dream and at some point I will wake up. But reality is a cruel mistress.
So, my recent revelation is to absorb this word. It is part of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. The online widows group has gone global and is growing thanks to the leadership of my friend Karen. Some on there have only been widowed a few days and some a few years. Most don't know how to navigate the new normal, and some want to end it all. As they express their emotions and grief, I am taken back there as if it were yesterday. Adrenalin creates our memories, and holding someone as they die will definitely make adrenalin rise. I can only hope my words encourage them, help them breathe, and realize life can be had beyond the fog. But it's in this fog where we question, if we are no longer a spouse, just who are we? What are we?
In reading Revelation 2 this morning, God says he will write down a new name on a white stone and the only one who will know that name is the one to whom the stone is given. Throughout scripture God changes names. To me that says that our earthly name given by earthly parents really isn't our identity. Ultimately, we are God's children and he had a name for us before our first breath in this realm. That name, our true name, reflects our true identity. For me, I am a princess in a kingdom. I am beloved. I am allowed to return as a prodigal. I am wise and strong. I am given hope, and a guarantee that there is a plan to prosper me, not harm me. I am worth dying for. My value cannot be determined by man, for my father is of a different realm.
While I will always hate the word "widow," I fall into the peace that comes with accepting a new identity. An identity given to me by Christ himself. And from that I will no longer flee.