A Reason, A Season, or a Lifetime

A reason, a season, or a lifetime . . . this story has been playing across my mind a lot lately.  It is said to describe the people who come through your life.  The only one that is not defined by an ending is the person there for a lifetime.  But what if, what if you believed that would be your spouse?  And now, it isn’t.  This is where I should say that we are never alone for God is always with us but I would be a hypocrite if I said that’s what I’m thinking right now.  Because I am not.

Right now I am questioning who.  Who is my lifetime?  Who can I count on when times are tough?  Who can I call when my friendships falter?  Who can relieve me of child bedtime duties when I am sick and desperately want to crawl into my own bed?  Who will be on the other end of a hug when I climb out of a shower with a tear-stained face?  Who will wrap me in their arms so tightly I know a piece of me will always be left in that embrace.  Who?  Who?  Who?  And why?

Reason, season, lifetime.  Was my husband just a reason?  That’s it?  I can’t believe that and yet he is gone.  The reasons are plentiful . . . he taught me love, he taught me the pain that comes with love, he created my children with me, he grew up with me . . . a house, a job, a family, a farm.  And in the end his story is the reason my faith is so strong.  But just a reason?  Hardly.

Maybe a season . . . a season of growing up, growing older, growing wiser . . . and then gone. The season of young adulthood.  The season when the future seems like eternity and we know we are invincible.  The season when we plant our roots and start to spread our limbs.  The season when we begin to realize all that is possible and hope springs eternal.  But just a season?  That can’t possibly be true.

But a lifetime?  The lifetime of love, hugs, planned vacations, and rocking on the front porch.  Of raising our girls and watching them bloom.  Of dreaming big and chasing our dreams into the sunset.  Where did my lifetime go?  God.  God has a reason.  God defines the seasons of our lives.  God gives us our lifetime.  What is His message for me?  And who is my lifetime?  Ryan will be in my heart and life for my lifetime.  He will live on in our girls and the recipients of his organs.  But who can I go to for my lifetime?

This is where I begin to ask God about friends.  What friends did he intend as my roots?  And what friends did he intend as my leaves? (If you don’t understand this reference check out Tyler Perry’s book.  It’s a good one.)  This is when that leap of faith comes in.  When I am supposed to put my heart and trust and woes in God’s hands.  When I turn it all over to him and trust it will be ok.  But goodness that’s a struggle right now!  I want answers!  But alas, that is a reason . . . waiting, trusting, faith.  Because sometimes it is not a person that is the reason, season, or lifetime, but the lack of a person that is the reason, season, or lifetime.

I don’t know the way . . .

After my solitary run today during which I passed the same older couple several times I found myself sitting outside the local community college wondering why I felt so alone.  Earlier in the day at a benefit race I witnessed another older couple – surely in their 80s – jog over the finish line of the 5k together holding hands and I felt that sharp pang of aloneness in that moment too.  It’s no mystery that those of us who have found ourselves widowed experience this pang frequently at first and hopefully less over time but time makes it no less painful.  While I sat there in the afternoon sun of this absolutely glorious day pondering why I continue to feel this gaping hole inside me I decided to just randomly flip open my bible and read the first verse my eyes saw in the hopes of guidance.  I said “I don’t know the way, Lord” and in my heart was hoping He would show me.

The verse I opened to was Psalm 143:1-12 . . . “O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.  Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.  The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead.  So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me me is dismayed.  I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.  I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.  Answer me quickly, O Lord my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Rescue me from my enemies O Lord, for I hide myself in you.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For your names’ sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble .  In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.”

Well, there.  A prayer of deliverance and divine guidance.  That was EXACTLY what I should have been praying!  I identified with this prayer . . . I often dwell in the B.R.D. days (Before Ryan Died) – dwelling with my loved one who is not so long dead.  And in those moments I feel the hole inside me open.  I try to remind myself of God’s hand in all of it.  My and my mother in law’s prayers to deliver Ryan from the disabling depression that often gripped him and God’s gift of an eternal, peaceful life for Ryan instead (though little did we know how our prayers would be answered . . . would we have prayed them if we had known?  I’d like to think that yes, we would have wanted the ultimate paradise for Ryan but I’m not sure I could honestly be that selfless.)  God’s hands also allowed, in Ryan’s death, the gift of rebirth.  Not to just one man, but to two teenagers and countless other recipients who received heart valves, tissue for skin grafts, veins . . . God demonstrated miracles in front of me.  He gave me witness to His awesome powers and gave me hope.  His love has been unfailing.  And yet . . . I don’t know the way, Lord.  I falter.  I stumble.  I doubt.  I slip back into wanting, crying, feeling alone.  I forget that as a servant and child of God I am never alone.  If I put my faith in Him I will be rescued from my grief.

As a young widow this is my struggle.  Aloneness.  Fear of being alone forever.  I miss hugs and kisses.  Phone calls to just say “Hi I was thinking of you.”  Texted emoji kisses in the middle of the day.  Someone to share the load with.  To help with dishes and pets and kids.  I cannot rise above the desires of the flesh to find comfort in His love and support.  This is my journey.  I have seen the miracle of God’s love and yet struggle to accept it for myself.  Each day I try again and each day I will continue to try.  But for now I will find comfort in this Psalm and pray it as my prayer.