Widowhood

The Widow's Workshop 101

Finding Your Identity in Widowhood

Who Am I?

DxpXBXwjQFi4LmtRaT2EBwThe focus that so many widows face is ‘who am I now’ after their husband has passed away.  Being in the ministry, she was the Pastor’s wife, or the missionary’s wife..... maybe a Bishop's wife,  but in whatever branch of ministry they served together in, she has been  the minister’s wife who also paid the price beside him.  Her identity was as his helpmeet, while representing the clergy was her burden to carry alongside her husband. She worked beside her loved one in supporting his work, often working life-long  and side by side to carry out the vision God put in his heart.  A life of long hours, sacrifices  made, always putting others ahead of themselves, was often the norm for both of them doing the work among humanity. 

But life has changed now since he has passed away, and she faces a complex future of a different identity.  She must find her footing anew in a completely different world. This adjustment takes time, and cannot be defined by the opinions of others. Many ministry widows feel like they are invisible (or they wish they were) because who she was in her past is now gone.  She’s no longer fulfilling a role she was used to.  The widow often  feels no connection or plans to be fulfilled now. Who is she? 

HE71hTWKTaSpVrlzAbVizwThe glaring truth is that she is no longer a minister’s wife, and people don’t see her as such anymore. Some widows run from this deep pain into areas of need, to bury themselves in active use for others. Some try to hide from their pain by trying to numb it with physical activities that often brings snares to harm her far worse in the end.  Still other widows lean into their secondary relationships  to try to find security and assurance. These may pacify for a season but give no direction in her future.

IMG_8451Trying new styles, clothing, places, people, foods, shopping, traveling, arts are all areas she will explore as she looks for her new identity.  But the awkwardness and often insensitive  remarks, critiques and  conversational 'help’, sometimes causes yet more pain in her mind and heart. And this too does not help her to carve out a new identification for her self. 

Changing houses, locations, churches, ideas, looks and new beginnings all can distract her short term, but still cannot redefine her to her own physic.  All is different now.... that which she felt safe in, that which she knew how to perform well, is no longer in her life.  

U1zzKjgwS32j+wbHyMyVtgAdjust yes.... but who is she to herself now? One has to know who they are supposed to be, to become that person and do so. 

Churches are often at a loss in this area..... what to do with their widows. It’s uncommon for church leadership and church families to know how to respond to death correctly, or how a widow might continue in a different skill set among them.    This certainly is a need in the Body of Christ today.  Lifelong leadership experiences have been honed to effective skills, yet the enormity of her change has caused her entire world to shift  upside down. And a lifetime of looking after others often did not  allow  her much time to look after herself.  She is looking for her new self, but only has her former ministry to figure all of this out.  Often she does not know how to rest or take the time to explore what is next. Where does she look in this new landscape for who she is now?

J83KowlYQFur%YB4sQuuUAThis is a common issue and one I have heard from many other ministry widows.  There is one other way to handle this dilemma.  It’s the unfolding of the secret place she knows from her years of service that will lead her day by day back to Who she knows best.... the Lord. 

 

RenderedImage  All of the advice of well meaning, but incorrect friends cannot give her a future. They do not know how to bring the assurance, nor open the amazing future that awaits her.  Many only start relaying their own experiences with loss, thus she feels discounted and her fresh grief ignored.  This is not how the Lord would have her directed.  He knows what He wants to have happen in her life next.

For God knows his faithful daughter and her many silent sacrifices over the years, and it is HE that has a future in mind for her.  An unique identity that she is specifically and specially  designed to fulfill ahead. Her life isn’t over,  just the assignment is completed. Serving beside the man of God till death came and parted them. 

IMG_8616 copyYet in this finished work, her own future will open into new areas of promise and blessing. Only let her hide deeply in the Lord till HE reveal it to her.... for she is His and He knows the plans He has for her.  

This is the LORD’s declaration  —  “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 

He will surprise His daughter with joys she never knew before.  And a new identity will unfold as God opens His hand to show her the perfect plan ahead. Her identification remains as His daughter and He knows her name.  

IMG_3987Take heart woman of the Lord, nothing has changed in who you are. Your destiny is still unfolding no matter the life changes you have been through.  Your identity is secure in Him. 

 

7 Ways to help unlock the door of your future:

  1. Chart your spiritual life from your earliest remembrance of when you first felt the Lord come to you. Take your time and carefully record the spiritual experiences that have happened over your lifetime. Start from your earliest personal memory of God. Write it year by year if possible, but certainly event by event as He touched your life.  From the beginning all the way up to the present, write it ALL down.  This may take some time, looking through past journals, or pictures, or even songs may all hold past keys of your relationship with God.  Once this chart is done, this clearly shows the hand of God guiding your personal life up to this very day.  THIS is a valuable record of your walk with God.  This will not be your late husband’s, record only yours.  It will help to strengthen your heart that God is watching over you step by step.                                                                                                                                  
  2. Find scriptures that have meant so much to you down through the years. Put your name in each one and hand write these on pretty notes and post everywhere for your eyes to see day and night.  When insecurity hits, say these verses out loud to yourself. You are not alone but your future will include Gods promises  for you when this is practiced.  It will build up your faith and trust the God is leading you step by step.  
  3. Write a long letter of encouragement to yourself. Don’t wait for positive affirmations from others, but rather encourage yourself in the Lord.  You know what you need to hear!
  4. When a wave of grief floods the heart and mind, turn worship music on and pour out the grief to the Lord. Lean on Him when this happens. Slowly your strength will increase and the wave will decrease and healing will begin.  You may consider having music playing all the time for a while to help the silence……
  5. Think back to natural talents you may have had to give up in the past,  to tend to the many ministry needs. A blessing is awaiting in the rediscovery of those God given gift you have.  Create a personal space to explore this buried treasure and see where God leads you.   Make a PlayRoom for yourself, and fill it what just things you love. This can start a new area of thought for life.  A specific space affects the mind and will help to affirm there are new enjoyable adventures that lie ahead for you.  This could be a paint corner, a sewing nook, a reading place, a puzzle table, scrapbooking  or an arts and crafts area that remains your private space. This is a  play area that you don’t focus on your loss, but only on your talent inside.     
  6. Guard yourself from unwise conversations with well meaning but ill advised people. This includes people, books, podcasts, movies. None of these matter in your life .... it’s God who is directing the widow into her future that He has planned. There can be less personal pain by guarding your heart well. 
  7. Start a Comfort Book for yourself!  This is a three ring notebook that is created by you and for you. Every time you read something interesting that stands out to you, start collecting them.  Articles, notes of encouragement from others, ideas you would like to try someday.  A bucket list, a vision board, various colors and different thought processes.  These all will serve to bring to the mind areas of development that have been buried.  When you have it filled, go back and see what messages the Lord may be giving to you in your own heart. 

 

“Who am I? What really defines my existence? I want that to be based on something that can never be lost.” 

Dr Stephan Viars 

 

The identity of a ministry widow may still include ministry, but God may surprisingly  use her skills to help in a area that there are no hands available to work in. Start watching but don’t push doors to open.... when it’s God He will open the right doors and the right time.

 

I promise there is a new beginning, but to get there takes time, focus and a open heart.  

All is not lost…. God knows the plans He for YOU! 

Dr Gayla Holley

yes.... all these pictures are me :) 

 


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