Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding My True Identity

Now that there are no more phone calls asking about Michael, all the kids have gone back to school and work, friends have returned to their families, I find myself feeling much like I did when Vinnie died. The only difference is, that now that Vinnie's been gone longer and now Michael is gone too, I realize I've had quite a bit of security stored up in these guys and it's making me miss them even move. I had comfort knowing that I could call Michael after Vinnie died, if I really needed help with something so he took the edge off of that part of missing Vinnie (to some extend anyway). Mikey would go out of his way to do almost anything for one of his sisters, and he would have gone out of his way to help me too, now that his dad was gone. In fact, he was suppose to meet me the day after he died. We were going to get all the wood flooring Vinnie bought for the old house and bring it to my new house. He was going to lay the flooring for me (well, eventually - or at least show me how to do it so I could finish it) and I, without thinking about it, I was looking forward to his company, and chatting with his wife Stephanie while we worked on the floor together. I am sad that ths plan will never happen. I know there are people who have said if I need anything, not to hesitate to call. Do you really mean it - anything? I just can't picture people dropping their lives to do something for me. It's not possible. I know folks want to help, but when it comes right down to it, they have lives, sports and dance with their kids, events to attend, meetings to have with teachers, homework to help with, weekends to spend with their families here, out of state, or just a get away with their spouse. Don't forget, I was married too - for 25 years. I am the one that doesn't have "a life" right now. At least, I am realizing I need to make a life, a new one, with friends who don't have to be home for their husbands and children. I need a life that doesn't cost anything either - because there's nothing extra in the budget to take up a hobby or a special monthly something. It's looking pretty bleak right now. (The picture above is Vinnie and me at my daughter Amy's wedding earlier this year, and below is the two of us with Amy and her new husband Mike.)

I am not really feeling sorry for myself. I really am not. I am, however, wondering what my life is supposed to look like. I just am swimming around in dark water. I can't see anything very clearly. I want my life to have some purpose and I can see I've put a lot of stock in being Vinnie's wife and the life we had together, and now it's all changed. I am not sure what my life is supposed to look like now.

I couldn't help but think of Job today. Job (rhythms with the word probe) is a book in the Bible about a man with the same name - Job. Job is a righteous man who is wealthy with a large family and servants. Satan tells God that Job would not be such a righteous man if all his wealth and belongings were taken away (I am paraphrasing her, big time!). God knows that's not true, so when Satan asks, God allows all of Job's family and possessions to be taken away (for a season, but Job, of course, doesn't know that). I was wondering what Job thought about during those days when all of his possessions, servants, and children are taken from him. Surely my losses and grief are nothing compared to losing everything. I wondered if Job wondered what to do with his time, if he felt challenged to manage his time differently, or orchestrate his day differently. The Bible doesn't say. I do know in the end, after also suffering from terrible pain and illness, he confesses to God that it is not his place to question the God of all creation about anything God does. I know the point of the story reminds us that God's purpose in allowing things in our lives goes beyond what we can see or understand. I doubt Job knew about the conversation God had with Satan, for instance - the conversation that started the whole mess for Job. God knows the big picture and we never will while we are here on earth, therefore there is little point in questioning. In Job's life, he has all his wealth and livestock and children and servants all replaced ten fold in the end of the story. I am not sure if God will restore what I've lost but I know that all this has a purpose and my life is going to have purpose again one day. I need to simply wait to see what God has in store for me. I am not good at waiting.

I don't mean to get caught up in the book of Job, although he has always been an encouragement to me, and continues to be during my own tragic time. I am feeling especially sad today (and yesterday). I've learned in GriefShare that grieving happens in layers - kind of like an onion. There are many things we miss about a lost love one, their company, their help, their income, their encouragement, their love, their strength, their talents, their abilities, and the list goes on. As I sit with a mountain of receipts on the table and bank reconciliation that need to be done for August, September, and October, I am again missing another part of Vinnie - the bookkeeping expert. As I look at (and smell) the old carpet in my new house, I miss the handy man. And when I walk on the carpeted bathroom floor, I realize that dozens of friends got tile on their floors and even their counters and showers, but I never will. I am missing another layer, another skin of the onion. And...onions stink! (Here's Vinnie with our youngest grandson.)

Being a widow - it's hard adjusting. It's just hard to think of your life being so different from just a few months ago. I am still Vinnie's wife but without the luxury of having Vinnie here. Being a widow is not only being asked to get used to not having my Vinnie around here any more, but also to depend and rely on God every single day for every single thing. There is no one else to rely on anymore. Every day I must depend on Him and Him alone. That is what we are called to live our lives like in Christ anyway, isn't it? If I'd done a better job of learning this before Vinnie died, I'd probably struggle less with it now! But perhaps just as grieving happens in layers, so does our dependency on God. His grace allows us to understand new layers of our relationship with him in each season of life. That is His grace. He allows us to take one step and one layer at a time.

I know I will be OK, and I will discover what my new life is suppose to look like in time. It helps me to think these things through and to write them down and "listen" to myself. Of course, it helps to keep praying too - praying for daily bread, for protection (I relied on Vinnie for that too!), for joy, for peace, for security, for EVERYTHING! I suppose it is significant that I approach this season of grief at the same time as we begin the winter season soon. The seasons always remind us that our lives go in seasons too and just as this is a darker season in my life right now, life seemingly dies (but it's not really dead) and then comes to life again, fresh, brilliant, with more light, it even smells wonderful. Just as there is winter, there will be spring in my life too. I just have to get comfortable about waiting.

Promises I must cling to:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Matthew 6:25-34 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


Melissa M S said...

*hugs* I'm sorry Mrs. S. You have my prayers. Words again fail me but I know with your faith in the Lord, you'll be Ok. In Christ's Love,

Gailie said...

I am in a new place this week - a new sadness, and now that all the craziness of the past 2 months is behind me, I am searching to discover what my new life is suppose to look like. I am ready to write again tonight. Hope you will continue to join me on the journey. Thank you so much for your prayers! I truly am a blessed woman.