I have to admit I’ve been letting fear take hold of my mind and heart lately. It’s probably because I know of five friends who have recently lost their husbands. So I find myself imagining life without my own husband of forty years. And when I do, I can barely breathe. He is the one person I look forward to seeing each day. He is the person that I feel such peace and contentment doing the everyday mundane things like reading a book or watching a favorite show. He truly completes me.
Marriage is about two souls working tirelessly through the years to meld into one. And if done with Christ at the foundation, the two hearts should become so mingled that even when apart they beat in the same cadence. His pain becomes her pain; her worry becomes his concern. They are one. (And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh).” Mark 10:8
And so when a spouse dies, your entire heart is pulled from you, painfully excavated—leaving you totally ripped up, decimated, and eerily incomplete. Like with an amputated limb, all of your being responds like the lost one is still there, as you instinctively expect to see them, speak to them, or touch them. And then the reality of the loss hits and it envelops you in such a deep abyss of loneliness that the desire to live again is a daily struggle. This amputation of your heart exists in every move you make, every waking task, every tear- filled night, and repeats the cycle at the beginning of yet another long, long day.
And it is precisely when ‘fear and doubt’ move into my own ruminating thoughts that ‘love and hope’ has to do battle to throw them to the curb. It is there that I am reminded of a friend, a widow—her name is Laura. She lost her husband three years ago. She was left alone with three teenage daughters. Laura told me she missed her husband dearly, that she hated being a widow, and that she felt sorry she had to be a single mom. But she also told me something that gave me hope. She told me that she tells Jesus every morning upon opening her eyes, and awakening her heartsick body, that He is now her husband and she fully expects Him to walk with her by her side. She says emphatically , “And He does get me through my day.” She readily admits that she relies on Him more heavily than ever before—because her very life and well-being depend on it. And you know what? You see it in her.
It was recently his three-year anniversary in heaven and this was Laura’s Facebook post: “Three years ago we gathered as Joe left this earth for heaven. I woke the next morning to hear a voice in my head saying, ‘Give up, don’t even try, there is nothing good left.’ The girls and I belong to God, and His divine voice of truth was stronger and more clear as He called us to step forward in trust. Days of steep climb, other days of unmatched sweetness, all ordained by a God who gave His life for us. Grace, mercy, and love have held us together. Today we rejoice in honor of Joe’s life on earth. We will feast on apple fritters, swim in the sea, and speak the words of Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Strength and courage from Christ always defeats fear and discouragement here on earth. May you know how wide and deep God’s love is for you on this day and always.”
Laura has picked up where her husband’s legacy left off in taking over his ministry with the Fellowship of Christian athletes running surf camps. She has ventured into unchartered waters, while still walking with a broken heart, she has become a life preserver for all who meet her.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
Andrea Maher is the former editor-in chief of PARENT ABC’s, a monthly magazine dedicated to helping parents navigate the everyday concerns of family life. She is the author of the newly released book, SLAMMED: Overcoming Tragedy in the Wave of Grief, A Survival Guide She has been married to her husband, John, for 40 years and are the parents of four sons, and enjoy their six grandchildren in Cape May, New Jersey where they reside. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.