Coping With Challenges
Life is full of many challenges regardless of what we have gone through in our lives. We can all go back to when we were children and had those kids who teased us, bullied us or were just plain unkind. Or perhaps the college age years when we all thought we had the answers to everything in life and we just all knew it all. Or perhaps we found the man of our dreams and we were going to have that special dream wedding, a couple of kids and we were going to live happily ever after.
Little did we know at the time of our youth, that those kids who irritated us actually became a life lesson on how to cope with those who hurt us? Or when we got beyond those years of thinking we knew it all, and realized that there were those who we looked up to really did have the answers which made more sense.
Perhaps many of you did find the man of your dream and the years to follow were absolutely dreamy! Perhaps that sentence is a little unreal. Marriage to the man God has given to you is wonderful. But marriage isn’t always dreamy. Sometimes we needed to work at it, pray it through and believe that God was in charge. And He is in charge if we allow him to be.
And then the unthinkable happens……. Suddenly our spouse gets sick, is in a traffic accident or has a sudden illness and dies instantly. How do we cope with the new challenges of going from a couple to being single? How do we handle these changes? Where is God in all of this? Will we be able to cope with our new lives?
As difficult at that first year or two is, you will. I hope some of these coping hints will help you to go from feeling so alone that you think you cannot – to become the woman that God will bring you to become in this next chapter of your life. I know – I know – you are thinking this isn’t the plan you had for the rest of your life. It wasn’t for any of us but we do have a choice. Do we want to be stuck where we are or do we gracefully except what we cannot change and allow God to direct our life?
One of the Bible passages that comes to mind is the 23 Psalms. I used to think this scripture was overused and now I find it so comforting. I once heard a story of a little girl of about 8 who was going to get up in front of her church to recite this passage. She became anxious and started by saying – ‘The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…’ Her mind went blank and then proceeded to say ‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ It was like all that is in between those two verses are irrelevant. The Lord is our shepherd and He will follow us all the days of our lives.
Let’s look at a few challenges and ideas on how we can work through those challenges. Some of these may seem silly but then again they may be very real.
- From the beginning of no longer being married – what do we call it – My husband died, passed, passed away, crossed over or I lost my husband? Each of us may have our own term which best suites how we feel. Personally I often say he passed away or he is in a better place.
- Here’s a tough one – being able to ask for help. It is very difficult to ask for help but perhaps you have a close friend or a Care Minister at your church who can be your ‘go between’ to help you with things you are having difficult asking help with.
- Perhaps you are feeling scared of living alone for the first time in years. Go easy on yourself as this is a huge change for you to be alone. Take one day at a time or do one thing per day that needs to be done.
- The challenge of doing things by yourself as you and your spouse did everything together. This can also be tough but perhaps just saying yes to attend a Bible Study for the first time or invite a couple of friends over for dinner or go out for dinner. It’s taking that first step that may be hard but it’s a beginning.
- The feeling of being stuck…… Oh how often I felt that way. Sometimes it is just easier to be alone than decide on what to do next. I may suggest keeping a diary or a journey recording both the good and the bad things you are feeling. Take a look at what you are writing in a couple of weeks or months. What are you doing that is making you feel better? Sometimes we just need to put one foot in front of the other.
This list can go on and on but the one thing I would suggest to find that one person you can talk with. Perhaps someone who has walked down the same path as you but is thriving. Widows gain a new perspective talking with another widow. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reads Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
As we face these challenges, there is hope knowing that we will eventually heal and thrive. May the memories you cherish help you to move forward with a smile of what you have had and as Christians we know we will see our spouse again.
My prayer is for you to find peace in your journey and continue to feel God’s arms wrapped around you. Hugs and prayers to each of you traveling down this journey.