April 17th will mark eighteen months since my husband passed away. God knows it has not been easy. It has been a time of grieving, one day being so intense that as I walked out of the garage, I thought about walking back in, starting the car, and closing the door…no more pain. The thought was a fleeting one, but I have to admit, it was there.
It has also been a time of facing one of my biggest fears – life alone. Do I trust God? Do I trust that He will really be with me?
Shortly after my husband’s death, I was back at work and within three months, I travelled to Africa to minister to orphans. Then I dove right back into the ministry where I worked, throwing lifelines to those who were drowning in their emotional pain. They (whoever they are), advise to perform only 75% of your usual tasks after the death of a loved one, inability to concentrate being just one of the reasons. But I paid no heed to the warning. It was full steam ahead.
Just short of the one-year anniversary, I made the decision to leave the ministry I had devoted eleven years to. I knew that God was asking me to leave. I also knew that if I didn’t leave, there would be nothing left of me. But afterward, I continued to help those I had been working with on a volunteer basis. Within weeks, I could sense God telling me to take a break. Two images came to mind. The first one was of a smoldering wick. If it wasn’t given some air, the wick would be snuffed out, never to be rekindled again. The second image was of a medic out on the battlefield. I was trying to help the wounded, but I wasn’t doing a very good job because I, myself, was wounded. Essentially, in secular terms, I had burned myself out. I knew God was there. I could feel Him constantly with me, but I was not totally allowing Him into my grief. He was in the driver’s seat, but I was the little kid sitting beside him, learning to drive, with my hands still trying to control the wheel.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are no coincidences. God’s timing is perfect. I know it’s time to record the audio version of the book I wrote, which is ironically titled, Will You Go? A Journey to Emotional and Spiritual Freedom. The proof copy of it arrived just days after the funeral. On the front of the book is a picture of a person in a kayak and there is a storm ahead. Is the person willing to face the storm? Do they trust that God is with them in the boat and in the storm as they face their pain? The word ironic is a tad understated.
Another image came to mind the other day, and I knew that, once again, God was speaking to my heart. The image was of me in a rowboat. Interesting thing about rowboats – you can’t see where you’re going because as you row, you’re facing backwards. I thought that recording the book would be easy but that is not the word I would now use. As I speak into the microphone, there are times when I read a line and pause, choking back tears as memories surface. Thank goodness I have an awesome producer who is doing the editing! The feeling is even more intense as I listen afterward to my own voice, telling my own life story. But God is doing something through this. As I sit backwards in the rowboat, He is showing me, once again, the experiences I’ve had in my life, and how He has been there through it all. And if He has been there through it all, can I not trust Him to be there with me through this? He has been with me through this storm. And on the days when my attempts at rowing are weak, and I can’t see where I’m going, I can hear Him saying, “Hey Melony…let me help you with that…”
I am not alone.