by Leah Stirewalt
I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus since my husband’s suicidal death…a public speaking hiatus, that is. I have no problem sharing the story of how God miraculously healed me following Chris’ death, however I haven’t really pushed to do so either. I waited on Him to open that door when He felt I was ready.
It just so happened…He opened the door last week, when I had the opportunity to share at a women’s event with a group of nearly 2000 women. I was so nervous, because honestly…I was afraid I would lose composure and start sobbing on stage. But God…God allowed the tears to form but not simply take over. His peace literally surrounded me like a cloud the moment I stepped on the stage. I knew His Presence was abundantly there that evening.
However, what I wasn’t prepared for was what came later in the evening. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with several women and had the wonderful privilege of hearing their stories. Consistent stories of tragedy resulting from a loved one’s suicide. My eyes welled up with tears again, as I saw the pain – although redemptive in many of them – cross over their faces yet again. It was the tears…the pain…the stories that surprised me. It was the fact that most have very seldom spoken of their pain because of the shame they’ve been carrying.
I know that feeling…all too well. I just wasn’t prepared to see so many other precious women experiencing that type of guilt and shame as well.
After my husband’s death, I also experienced a temporary season of shame. While suicide can easily usher in unwanted and unmerited shame, I’ve also learned that shame all-too-often accompanies any type of death of a spouse. But why?
Far too often, we feel we should have done something. If I had only done this or that…if I had only taken him to the hospital sooner…if only I had listened better when he shared his burdens about work…if only I had told him I loved him one last time. On and on the “if onlys” go. On and on the “what ifs” and the “shoulda couldas” continue.
I honestly had to learn, the hard way, that shame will take me nowhere except deeper into my pit of grief. As a believer, I also have to trust in the truths from God’s word. Romans 8:1-2 promises us… “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
I truly believe the enemy throws the dart of shame our way to try to render us useless for kingdom work. And what better time than when we’re already lower than low while grieving. However…God has another plan. Are we willing to trust Him with it?
His plan is to heal!
His plan is to rescue!
His plan is to deliver!
His plan is to restore!
His plan is to provide divine peace!
His plan is to strengthen!
His plan is to comfort so that we can comfort others!
His plan is to redeem our pain!
Friends – we have so many other women that will come behind us seeking refuge, seeking peace, seeking restoration, seeking hope. God wants to use you! Will you let Him? Tell the enemy to back off…cling to the promises in God’s Word…and watch God heal you beyond belief. While it may not look like it’s ever going to come, just trust Him. He’s reaching for YOU. He wants to rescue YOU. And, he promises to restore YOU.
Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. ~John 16:22