Seed of Change: An Excerpt from my book, 180 Your Life: A Woman’s Grief Guide
There was a moment as a new widow and mom of a newborn that I tried to make myself as small as possible.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Because that moment forever changed me. It’s stared like a seed, small and buried in a dark place. Now, like a sequoia in my soul, it won’t stop growing. This seed grew into my purpose. It grew into a dream that I didn’t choose, but chose me, and I simply said, “Yes.”
Songs are written about following your dreams. Movies are made to inspire us. But the reality is that following your dream, really committing to see it through, involves great risk, fear and release.
When I am tired and want to quit, this is the moment that won’t let me escape. When I think to myself, “It’s enough. Have a normal life. Get a normal job. This is too hard. It costs too much.” This is the moment that asks me, “Have you fulfilled the mission?”
I believe God heals, empowers and restores those that feel small, wounded or isolated…but God often does it through community. Connecting us to one another so that we are all transformed into our best selves.
This moment calls me Onward. Maybe it will call to you too…Because if a dream is really a good dream…it’s not meant to be fulfilled by one person. Big dreams bring people together, working together, to make their community better.
This is an Excerpt from My Book 180 Your Life From Tragedy to Triumph: A Woman’s Grief Guide
Behind the Upholstery
“Church groups sometimes look different from the inside than they
do from the outside. From the outside, they might be well-organized,
cheerful, energetic dynamos. From the inside, they are just people. My
church friends certainly rallied around my daughters and me, and provided
practical and spiritual support. Friends slept at my house. Others
ordered catering. They helped me plan the funeral service, activated
people to care for my yard, cook meals, and donate lots of diapers and
baby supplies for Sophia’s upcoming birth. I am forever grateful for
their love and help.
But I also needed something. . .More. I needed women who understood this journey.
One pivotal moment early in my widowhood eventually motivated
me to create my first Team Lady 180 group. This is one of the messy
stories. I don’t want to dishonor the gift of sincere friendship that friends
from church gave me at that time, but I also want to offer insight into
what a widow feels and how awkward it is to re-enter your life after a
massive loss. Maybe if more people understood, they would push past
the awkward feelings and reach out to those who are grieving.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to
look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from
being polluted by the world. James 1:27 NIV
By telling this story, I hope to encourage more churches to create
long-term support group environments specifically geared for the unique
needs of widows, widowers, their children and those who are grieving.
No person or church is static but grows and changes over this passage of
time, so this story is a snapshot of what happened to me in 2007.
At this church on Sundays, the children separated into a performance
group that harnessed their creative energies while their parents were
in the main service. I had been a part of the production team for that
children’s performance. Several months after Jason’s death, I decided
it was time for me to step out of the shadows of anonymity and rejoin
my production group. I was finally able to put my older daughter in the
nursery, and I wanted to show off my new baby to my friends and re-establish
myself in this smaller community. There were always snacks,
great conversation, and a creative production vibe that was fun to be
around on Sundays.
However, today was different. People knew my story. I was greeted
by welcoming hugs from the mostly twenty-something
crowd. One or two brave souls said they were sorry for my loss. The production team
leader, an older man with life experience, kindly chatted with me before
he had to start the children’s church program.
But the remainder of the group, mainly younger adults, quickly
looked away and busied themselves with random tasks. They didn’t
know what to do with me. They didn’t know what to say. Maybe they
were afraid to say the wrong thing or they were just uncomfortable. I was
trying to re-enter my old life, but I wasn’t the same. My whole family
wasn’t the same, and everyone around me knew it. I wasn’t part of a fun
power-couple anymore. I felt isolated in a room full of people.
Then Sophia stared to stir. She was waking up and was hungry. I felt
a lump in my throat. I missed my husband. I missed our lives together.
I missed my friends. By now I knew this feeling. I could feel the tears
coming. So, I picked up Sophia and scanned the room for a hiding place
where I could feed her and cry privately.
The kids’ service was now in full swing, and I could hear kids and families laughing together. The
green room only had a few people in it, so I found an overstuffed armchair
in the corner of the room and sat down on the floor behind it.
I still remember the feeling of sitting on the carpet behind this pretty armchair,
trying to make myself as small as possible while I breastfed Sophia.
In this little corner, I couldn’t hold my tears back. Sophia looked up
at me and smiled while she nursed, wrapping her little hand around my
finger, and I smiled back at her though tears were streaming down my
cheeks. I could hear a few young people chatting on the other side of the
room. I wondered if they even knew I was there.
Younger people often don’t know how to deal with grief, because
many haven’t had to yet. Young married people don’t want to think that
life is so fragile that their amazing Christian marriage could disintegrate
so publicly. Parents with small children don’t want to think that their
lives could change so drastically. It’s easier to give a casserole and look
away than to walk with someone through her grief journey.
I knew then that I couldn’t go back. Not that I couldn’t go back to
church, but that I couldn’t go back to my old life. That feeling of isolation,
of wanting to make myself as small as possible, became a seed in
my heart. I never wanted to feel that way again. I never wanted another
widow to feel that way, either. That was the moment that changed me. I
vowed then never to be that small again. I vowed to find a better way, to
find purpose in this pain.
It was this moment that started me on my quest. I craved appropriate
environments that met the needs of younger families grieving the loss of a loved
one. I started to seek out other younger widows. I discovered a widowed Sunday
school in one church, a widowed ministry at another, and a widowed
home group at another. Each one had a clue for me about the importance
of a supportive community that understood my grief journey. I was in
search of my Team. There had to be a better way.”
There are so many women who grieve alone. Empowering these women in a supportive team, with mentors who understand their loss, in a healthy, dynamic environment that addresses the whole person is a wonderful way to help create vibrant homes for adults and children after loss.
To learn more about how to support widows and bereaved women through a healthy place to connect and recover with practical, healthy steps for Body, Mind and Spirit, visit our 180U page.