I’ve always had a problem saying no when asked to take on some responsibility. I’d form my lips to say no, and out would come “Sure, I’ll do that.” This became a source of frustration for my late husband. Finally my late husband reached his breaking point and he pinned a note just above the kitchen telephone: on shocking pink scrap paper, and using a big fat marker, he wrote NO in huge capital letters. I had the ultimate answer to anyone who pushed: “My husband says no.”
Still, there was one problem—I never learned to rely on God for guidance in accepting projects; instead I relied on Mac and that note.
Let’s fast forward to widowhood, and guess what? I’m in the same spot! HA! Without Mac to fall back on, I’m back to feeling as though I’m letting God down, as well as others (and this is an important point), if I say no. “After all,” I ask myself, “what else do I have to do?” So I quickly wound up as a widow who was in over her head in projects and busyness. This ultimately resulted in some really serious emotional and physical issues for me.
- I’m more vulnerable to loneliness.
- The loneliness has led to upsetting dreams.
- The dreams have led to interrupted sleep.
- Not being rested, means I don’t accomplish other things because I’m physically worn.
- Being physically worn and lonely means I’m not eating properly.
- Being physically worn and not eating properly together mean that I flat out don’t feel as healthy as I would like.
- All of this keeps me from finding the joy that the Lord has for me each day.
- Being out of God’s will, and not finding His joy for my days, leads to more loneliness.
- And on and on it all goes in a vicious cycle.
Finally, finally, I had a moment of smarts (and trust me those come along only once in a blue moon) and I took a two week break from the busyness of life. During that time I allowed myself to settle in and seek God’s will for my life. I realized that I had forgotten that God knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5), and that He has already mapped out my life (Ephesians 2:10). Through prayer and Bible study and time alone, God showed me the value of saying no, unless it’s truly His leading in my life.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”—Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”—Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)
So I gave up several projects, and while I may have upset others, I know that I’m following God’s leading in my life. I now feel free to learn to be the new me and to find joy in each day. In fact, I’m doing new things and rediscovering the fun that Mac and I had in our retirement days—although in a very different way.
This being a widow isn’t easy. It’s traveling a road filled with bumps and pitfalls—and doing so without your partner. It’s easy to take a wrong turn and find yourself wandering on a path made up of the best of intentions, and soon you’re mired in trying to please others instead of God; but joy is only found in serving God and following His lead.
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”—Deuteronomy 13:4 (NKJV)