Friday, November 6, 2015

My first Thanksgiving

I don’t remember when the invitation was extended, I only remember thinking, “Oh good, I won’t be alone”; and so I agreed to spend Thanksgiving the same way Mac and I had always spent Thanksgiving: at a certain friends house with the same gathering of friends. I even found the strength to fix a dish and take it along. That could only have come from the Lord, as I had no strength of my own. 

I can’t tell you that I had peace about my decision, and I can’t tell you that I didn’t either. I was numb. Totally numb. After all, Thanksgiving was 11 days after M’s death and life was a daily struggle at this point. Still, being alone on a holiday can be difficult and I wasn’t ready to stay home and mourn, but I wasn’t ready to be happy and celebrate either. Actually, I didn’t know what I wanted or how I *should* react. I was facing each day only through God’s strength and guidance.

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.
He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
—Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB)

Thanksgiving came, my friends picked me up and off we went. Every step up to the door was heart pounding emotional pain, but I asked God to give me grace and strength and with each step He comforted me.

Everyone was gracious and welcoming, although there was something difficult in every greeting. I realize now that they were also mourning and hurting, and so seeing me was both comforting, as well as a painful reminder of the friend they had lost. Conversation was our normal conversation, and I found comfort in that, although I really didn’t care about the subject. I had no interest in anything other than getting through another day. Then came mealtime, and suddenly the conversation turned to the loss of M.

They shared their heartbreak, they shared their anger, some of them even said things that were horribly painful to my heart. I wanted to scream at them to STOP!—but I didn’t. I really didn’t have the emotional strength to speak up and tell them to stop saying these things. I reminded myself that none of them knew the Lord and so they had no comfort of any kind. In the back of my mind I knew that they weren’t aware of how painful their comments were to me. So I listened and quietly prayed—and all the while my broken heart was breaking into more pieces.

I was so glad when it was time to head for home. I needed to be alone with the Lord so that I could cry, mourn, pray, tell God how angry I was, and let Him wrap me in His arms and hold me and keep me through the rest of the night. 

Last year I had no idea “how” to be a widow; I hadn't yet learned that there is no right way to be a widow. I had no clue how to face the holidays. I’d never read an article on surviving the holidays. In some ways I wish I had stumbled across “Survival Tips for Handling the Holidays” as it might have spared me a great deal of emotional pain. Yet by God’s grace I managed my first Thanksgiving as a widow. What will this year bring? I have no idea what plans the Lord has for me, but I know that He will open just the right doors, He will keep me, and He will comfort me. And for that, I am eternally thankful.

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

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