By Kitty Hinkle
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
My pastor uses this verse more than any other verse in his messages because it articulates a choice we make daily—whom do we use as a life coach? The enemy or Christ?
While he was speaking yesterday about the enemy fooling people with lifestyle choices that give quick comfort only to derail authentic joy in life, I thought about how the thief can fool us widows into twisting our grief in the wrong direction.
How does he do that, and what would Christ have you do with our grief instead?
Grief is critical for moving forward, and it’s important to experience it and have patience with the time it takes to process your loss. But I’ve learned to distinguish between the healthy process of grieving and signals that the thief has come to steal my future using the pain of my loss. Let me know if you have too. I’m wondering if a run through of a list of these might help some of us practice looking for these signals. Here are mine.
1. The thief coaches you into analysis paralysis. Christ comforts you and then coaches you to comfort others. In the first years of grief, I prayed and journaled about my loss, talking through feelings with a confidant. All that gave me godly healing and comfort. There came a time, though, when even though I knew I was healing, I found myself tempted to isolate, as though “thinking through” my loneliness would solve it. How wrong I was. The more I analyzed it, the more I started to wonder what was up with me—why I felt worse. My pastor suggested I try something different— reach out and help someone lonelier than me. I went to soup kitchens and closets, and began to pay more attention to friends and acquaintances around me who needed comfort in their situations. Soon I forgot my own problems and found myself lifted and fulfilled.
2. The thief coaches busyness for comfort. Christ coaches purposeful action—with prayer and time with Him topping your action list. At first I found myself consumed with the desire to organize my house. Some of it was healthy, some not. I had to discern when God was calling me to put order to something that was interfering with moving forward in my life, and when I was simply rearranging the clutter just to get my mind off of grief. A signal I was beginning to just rearrange to keep busy was when I found myself making appointments just to fill time so I wouldn’t have to sit by myself. That was the thief whispering to me: “stay busy, it doesn’t matter that you’re not accomplishing anything—just stay busy.” Christ doesn’t say that. He says “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) Christ knows how He designed you and what actions bring fulfilling accomplishments rather than futile busyness.
3. The thief says to go to the phone. Christ says to first go to the throne. I have those moments when the phone isn’t ringing and I’m surrounded only by my kids and I long for adult companionship—someone to talk to who doesn’t call me Mom. My first instinct is to call someone. I’ve learned that isn’t always healthy. Christ says: “Come to Me all who are weary.” I check in with him. Sometimes He encourages me to call a godly sister in Christ. Many times He, Himself, frees me from the weariness so I don’t even need to use the phone at all. Soon I learned being alone isn’t as hard as I thought.
4. The thief rushes you into life changes. Christ shows you He’s enough for now. Our world is so coached by the enemy that wants you to believe in quick fixes. Soon after losing their spouses, many widows find themselves craving companionship and tempted to jump into a marriage. The Lord promises to defend the widow (Psalm 68:5). If you first learn to accept his lordship in your life and walk alone with him for a time, you’ll find that later you’ll be better prepared to take on an earthly husband again.
5. The thief tells you to be afraid. Christ commands you not to fear. Many of us resist the temptation to jump into relationships so well that we then feel comfortable on our own and wonder what might go wrong if we consider another marriage. Those concerns are healthy as long as we don’t let the enemy twist those into consuming fear that keeps us alone for life. Far from being the author of fear, Christ tells us on five occasions in the Book of John not to fear.
I’d love to add to the list if you have areas you’ve come to notice are signals that you need to turn to Christ.
Our lives as widows are seasons. Difficult and testing, but also inspiring and blessed, because it’s through these seasons of weakness that we learn to lean on the Lord, making us closer to who exactly He made us to be.
Blessings, and I pray your week in your widowhood journey is fruitful.