By Nancy Howell
I’m a widow of almost one year. It’s still hard. I have days that are filled with tears, sadness, and “what-ifs.” I look at my two sons, growing up without their dad, and it breaks my heart.
I hope to share many experiences with you in the future. But for this, my first AWM devotion, I prayed that God would help me put into words the constant that has characterized my life since my husband’s death. And He is faithful to do just that, because it came to me this morning: bent but not broken.
During this past year, I’ve had countless times I just wanted to give up. I would’ve liked nothing better than to have drawn the curtains, stayed in my pajamas, curled up in bed alongside my cat with a box of tissues, and cried. Cried for what I’ve lost. Cried for what could have been. Cried for what my boys will grow up without. I could’ve done that for days.
But I didn’t have that luxury. Two boys, only 8 and 9 when their dad died, now had only me. I was the new sheriff in town, the one making all the decisions, the new head of our household. They were looking to me for strength and courage, for reassurance that we were going to be okay. Overwhelmed, I went on automatic pilot, doing what needed to be done. God helped me with every decision—whether big, little, easy, or exasperating. As I look back, those first months were a blur.
Up was down, down was up. But in the midst of the Texas-sized tornado that was our life after losing our husband and daddy, we surprisingly found ourselves still standing. Our roots were stronger than I ever imagined. And as we struggled to deal with a year of “firsts” without Mark, my children and I recognized our God wasn’t going to let us break. I’ll be blunt. There were instances I felt certain we’d splinter into a million pieces. Facing birthdays, a wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas—all in the first 5 months—was unbelievably difficult, but we endured. Through all of our pain, grief, and sadness, God is with us, steady and true. His love never fails. We see He’s not going anywhere.
In my family’s case, we’re still bent from our loss. We’ve huddled together against the wind, the rain, and the elements that threatened to uproot us. I can see that we are beginning to unbend a bit, if ever so slightly. We appreciate that our blessings are numerous even now. The sun still shines upon us, and life continues. Each day we encounter grace in many forms.
We will never be the same as we were before. That’s okay. We trust that God knows what He’s doing, and that good will sprout from the bad. I’m forever thankful for the Rock upon which we’re planted. I don’t mind being a bit bent, as long as I’m still growing in God’s eyes.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)
Father, Thank you for this opportunity to share my unimagined journey with others. I pray that my circumstances will be used for your glory, and that the comfort you’ve given my family is something I can share with others in similar situations. I’m so glad that you love me enough to keep me standing, and make me flexible enough to bend when necessary. Amen.
(NOTE: For more about Nancy, pop over to our About Us page.)