Today’s post is about loss. This may be a trigger for you. My prayer is that my friend’s words will encourage you in the midst of your loss.
Her loss came without warning
When the fog lifted after her husband’s sudden death, Jennifer Kennedy Dean began to realize that she was, in her words, “a widow, of all things.”
She could not imagine continuing in the ministry that had always involved both of them. The thought of taking on a new project or coming up with a fresh idea seemed impossible. She couldn’t even say a whole sentence without breaking into sobs.
Jennifer explained to her friends and her sons, “A widow lives in my body and I don’t know her. I don’t know how she’ll act. I don’t know what to expect from her. I can’t let her out in public.”
Loss can leave you in an identity crisis.
What do you do with the that?
Jennifer shared her story in The Mended Heart.
Jennifer had always taught women to identify with the pain Jesus suffered for us. She believed that when we embraced what He did for us, that we would discover the life that He offered through that sacrifice.
But in the midst of her own sorrow, she wondered if she should have added, “except if your husband dies unexpectedly.”
That led to new questions for her.
What if she started embracing the pain of her loss,
rather than seeing it as a stranger?
Would doing so lead to hope?
Was there something in the midst of her pain
that only Christ could give?
Hard questions, right?
Jennifer wasn’t trying to dismiss the loss of her husband or come up with answers to smooth away the rough edges of her pain. She truly wanted to see if there was something good to be found as she walked this path.
Is it possible to gain anything in the face of loss? The answer might surprise you. #livingfreetogether #TheMendedHeartbook #shouldertoshoulder
The immense loss of her husband made her desperately dependent on God in ways she had never known otherwise.
She found comfort in a Savior who pursued from the cross, knowing in advance that we would all need Him in our hour of unavoidable pain.
He understood loss. He understood suffering. He endured pain so that He could help carry ours.
Eight years have passed since her husband’s death. “The widow and I have integrated,” Jennifer says. “I’m not fragile anymore, but I am patient with others who are fragile. I think it is easier to tell people that we can avoid suffering and be protected from all pain than it is to tell people that pain is unavoidable and is to be embraced for the work it will do in our lives.”
This is the exact opposite of the advice many might receive.
The reason I’m sharing Jennifer’s story is that I don’t dare try to talk of loss when I haven’t experienced it in the same way.
Jennifer believes that our wounds and scars aren’t to be hid.
“Look at Jesus. Look at what Jesus thought of His wounds: ‘Here, Thomas. Look at My wounds. Touch My scars. These are the proof of My resurrection. I bear the marks of death, but I am alive!’ Jesus knew His wounds were beautiful.”
As Jennifer grieved, mourned, and eventually healed, she says, “At the places where I was broken, the power of Christ became authenticated in me for others. There came a time that I could say, “Look at my wounds. Touch my scars. I have death wounds, but I am alive. I can wear my wounds without shame.”
One day she will walk into the arms of Wayne and see him in eternity. It’s a day she longs for, but until then she says that she lives with a heart “expanded by sorrow.”
Q: Many advise, “Just move on.” How does that delay healing?
Q: How would embracing the pain (and finding the gift within) help you to heal?
If you want to read more about Jennifer’s story, you’ll find it on page 98 of The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.
If you need prayer, we have a team of prayer warriors ready to go to war for you. ~ Suzie