Friday, November 27, 2015

More Than My Scars

"to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, 
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness, 
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." 
~Isaiah 61:3 ESV

I stand in this woman’s kitchen answering basic questions that shouldn’t make me bristle.  My friend and I are visiting a church small group that meets in her home.  It is our first time; the hostess is gracious and kind, simply making small talk.

“Do you have children?"
“Do you work outside of your home?”

I try my best to politely answer and escape the questioning before she touches on the subject of my husband.  It’s more than my not wanting to experience the awkward shock that comes when people meet a young(ish) widow.  It’s even more than not wanting to look back into yet another sympathetic face made when others learn of my situation.  It is simply that:

I don’t want to be identified by my scars.

I am a forty-four year old mother of two teenagers.  I am more than a widow.  I am an employee at a wonderful medical practice.  I am more than a widow.  I am a writer and a speaker.  I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece and a friend.  I am so much more than a widow!

My children are more than the loss of their father.  “Half-orphans”, yes…but they are so much more!  They are academic competitors.  They are athletes.  They are my son and my daughter with friendships of their own.  They are more than children who have lost their dad!

I am almost two years into widowhood and while I will always be Tim’s widow, I don’t want to use it as a crutch or an excuse to not be all that God has called me to be.  I want to be known as Lori.

Lori the encourager.

Lori the God-chaser.

Lori the involved mother.

Lori the genuine friend.

Lori the hard-worker.

Lori the team player.

"Widow" is only one of my labels.  I am so much more.  As my healing journey progresses, I find myself desiring to let my other truths move to the forefront and show themselves as more dominant than my scars of widowhood.

Am I torn and damaged?  Yes, I am.
Am I covered in jagged scars on the inside?  Most definitely, yes.

Just like scarring is a natural part of the healing process after an injury on the outside of our bodies,

God is fortifying the gashes of our hearts and souls with healing tissue; ever so gently binding up the raw ends.  He is injecting them with His love, operating on them with His peace, and smoothing their surface with His assurance that we are MORE.

We are more than our circumstances, ladies.  Hear me sisters, we ARE more than our past.  We are more than our pain.  We are survivors!  We are children of the Most High God.

I want to be living life so fully and beautifully that people I meet in the future are shocked to learn I am a widow.  I want my kids to be so outrageously successful throughout high school, in college, and their adult lives that new friends are stunned to hear they lost their dad while still in junior high.

For these wishes to come true, the three of us have to start making choices nowchoices to not lead with our pain; choices to show the world that we are so much more than our scars.

Lord, thank you for reminding us that in You, we are more.  You created us for so much more than one label, help us to shine for You.  May we wear our scars with pride because of the healing power You have infused in them. Enable us to lead with Your healing presence in us instead of the pain.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Choice of Leaning In

My husband said it often, especially in his final months. 

“Lean hard into Jesus.”

I watched him live this out right before my very eyes, the choosing where to lean hard.

He was physically miserable.  The cancerous tumor had literally eaten through his face, pain was a constant, and he hadn’t possessed the ability to swallow even his own saliva for well over an entire year. 

He could have been bitter. 
He could have been hateful to me as his primary caregiver.
He could have lost his sense of humor.

I’m pretty sure if our roles had been reversed, I would have done all of the above plus more!

He did not. 

He would have so easily been excused by this world if he had chosen to lean as far away from God during his unfair and ugly cancer battle.  So very easily excused;
“Justified”, some might say.
“Expected”, others might offer. 

But he did not lean into sin. 
He did not lean into self-pity.
He did not lean into the lies of this world or the one who spreads them.  


And in doing so, his legacy was magnified into an incredible story of dependence on Christ. 

He chose to live for Jesus instead of living for himself.

He led our family by example.  During the most difficult journey imaginable for him, he led with dignity and wisdom and he LEANED INTO JESUS.

This Thanksgiving holiday, I am beyond grateful for a husband who showed me not only how to lean in, but WHOM to lean into.

2 Corinthians 5:15 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”