To the Single, Divorced, or Widowed {He is STILL at Work}

I wrote this on March 18, 2014.  And I love that my Facebook memories reminded me of it today. Some days I don’t feel like I have “healed” or am healing.  Some days I feel guilt for the part I played.  I don’t feel strong or adequate. But, reading this post – my own words from two years ago – evidences God’s faithfulness to and love for me.

It shows me how he’s worked and given me a “new” normal. How He’s changed my heart, my theology, my priorities, and more.  I remember the night written of here; I couldn’t stay alone. And now I travel alone, stay alone, walk forward alone because of Him – and a deep knowing that He is there.  The Sarah of now is a shadow of the Sarah written of near the end of this post, but only because of His redemptive work in my life – work that I had to walk into and through in faith; work He orchestrated, motivated, and empowered.  (And, friend, if you read this in 2014 and feel you’ve not “progressed” or “healed” or maybe even “regressed,” will you make time for a heart to heart with God or a trusted friend?)

Last night I spoke with a friend who is here – in this blog – in my 2014.  She’s not sure how to function or find a new normal. She’s not sure she can or ever will.  But, I know there’s a hope and a future – a comeback- for her.  That’s the God we serve – even if we can’t see or hear it in this moment.

So, this repost is for her – and for all of you who weren’t single, divorced, or widowed in 2014. For all of you who thought this would never apply to you. I pray you realize it applies to all of us as we walk one another home, for we all know a single, widowed, or divorced. May be we embrace her today…

to the single divorced or widowed

To the one who is single:  never married, divorced, or widowed…

I am sorry.

I am sorry for the first night you spent alone.  The first night after your husband took his final breath.  The first night without a roommate. The first night after you or your husband moved out.

 

I am truly sorry.

He took his final breath.  You arrived at home {perhaps} to a house full of people, but eventually, it was bedtime. You entered a dark room – no one in the bed next to you.  You could and can hear the silence. You run fans, read books, watch TV – sleep never comes, and if it does, it’s fitful.  You can smell him.  Sometimes you awaken and think…is he still here?  For all the times you still miss him – even if you’ve “moved” on…

I am sorry.

You did what the world told you to do.  High school diploma, college degree, gainful employment.  Finally, you can rent or buy your own place!  You’ve arrived!  Your first home or apartment is so cute.  Then, night falls, friends go home, and silence reigns.  What you wouldn’t give for the return of even the most nerve-wracking roommate.

Weeks pass.  Years pass.

The next logical step {culturally} is marriage, but you’ve found no one – no one’s found you.  “Not good enough, not pretty enough, just not enough” floats in and out of your head daily.  You always thought you’d be a wife – a mom – or something – but you weren’t “chosen.”

Lonely. People surround you, but often you sit at home and wonder…is this all there is?

I am sorry culture communicates that the natural progression for you should have been marriage and children, leaving you feeling as if anything less or different is “wrong” or “failure.” Shame on us.

And I am sorry. 

After years on the mission field, you’re burnt out…spent and hurting.  You’ve experienced more loss at age 36 than most of us have experienced in a lifetime.  You’ve sacrificed much on behalf the Kingdom.  You’ve loved and given and sacrificed more than most can fathom.  Deciding to move “home” – back to the States – is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching.  And here you are.  Back in a place where you no longer feel at “home” missing those who have been a daily part of life for years.

I am sorry for every night you have felt alone, staring at the ceiling, missing the little people who captured your heart.  I am sorry for each bump in the night that carries you back to gunshots and lost babies.

And to the one {like me} who has spent years married.  Always having a companion – for better and for worse – {mostly} feeling protected.  As you lie down night after night alone – sometimes with kiddos giggling or crying in the next room – and sometimes completely alone – I am sorry.  You never planned to be a single or a single mom.

Your feelings of betrayal and loss are indescribable.  Even though you’ve been hurt, you still miss what once was.  And if you’ve done the hurting?  The cheating and the walking out?  Life still hurts because you had no idea how far sin could and would take you.

Sinner or sinned against – loneliness resulted. And I am sorry for the nights you spend alone – unable to sleep, wondering how life ended up this way.  How this could have become your story.  How the wedding planning and aisle walking became gavel-pounding finality.

Single girl, widow, returning missionary, divorced one…I never understood your pain until today.

And for each time you felt abandoned, alone, helpless, and lost…I am sorry.

I am sorry for the times I hurried past you in the grocery store or church pew and didn’t even smile – much less say hello. For the times I didn’t understand you and didn’t seek to.  For the times I listened with my ears but not with my heart.  For the times I was so wrapped up in me, failing to extend love and comfort and words to you.  For the times I thought of you and felt prompted to check in and didn’t…

I am sorry.

I wept for you this morning as I wept for myself. I prayed for Him to comfort you as only He can.

Because we all know Jesus can and will fill this loneliness.  That only He is {ultimately} enough.  But, I understand that you might not want to hear that right now. {I don’t either.} For now, you need time to be mad – to feel alone – to kick and to scream.  And sob.  To feel the weight of your past.

And, that’s ok…really, it is.

But, sweet sister, I pray that someday soon both of us can look to the future.  I pray someday we wake up and realize…our lives are not over.  Perhaps they’re just beginning.

He is sovereign.  He knows us and loves us.  (1 John 3:1)

We are NEVER alone. (Hebrews 13:5)

He sees YOU and ME.  {I know this in my head; still praying for it to resume in my heart.}

And just so you know… I didn’t make it last night; I had a friend stay.  As the sun set, bedtime neared, kiddos slept, and the house creaked, I caved.   I stared at blank ceilings asking the same questions over and over.  I’ve never lived alone and couldn’t stomach the thought of that new season beginning last night.

And if you’re married – happily or otherwise, I know you still experience loneliness.  I know what hard work marriage is {and NO ONE is cheering you on louder than me}.  I know some days you feel invisible even in the midst of your husband and/or children.  I know you, too, wonder…is this it?  Why do I feel alone?  This isn’t what I thought it would be.  Why are some days so hard?

Or, maybe you don’t – you live in wedded bliss.

Whatever way – happily married…struggling married…single…widowed…divorced…

You are NEVER alone.  And, no, this isn’t it.  We are not home yet.  I pray you continue loving and persevering and praying and surrendering.

May we all walk alongside one another, loving and extending grace regardless of labels.

God has a plan. I can’t see it  – maybe you can’t either, but I will always believe in and cling to a God who is working all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Comments

  1. It’s so wonderful to see the testimony of growth in two (short) years! The Lord is so faithful and true!

    • Yes, he is, Missy. Even when we think we aren’t growing and healing – probably because it’s not fast enough for our liking – I know he’s there. I have seen too much evidence of his steadfastness not KNOW he’s faithful and true:)

  2. Great post! I remember it two years ago and it is still so wonderful two years later!

  3. I remember this, Sarah. It’s as real now as it was then, and while it’s sad, it’s also beautiful. What is there to say at times other than “I am sorry”? But I love your call for all of us to walk together.

    • Marilyn…as I read and grow and learn there’s one thing I am more and more sure of: We must live in community. We were made to do this together. But. And I know you can relate. In the seasons of pain and transition, the last thing we want is community. (We need it, but don’t want it.) I’ve become a bit of a hermit. I used to LOVE events, church, meeting together, play dates – any social occasion. Now, I dread them. I have yet to put my finger on the exact reasons – although I have unearthed a few – but I’d rather stay at home and read or write. Or talk to my kiddos. Or watch Gilmore Girls:) And even as my pull is toward the solitary, I have a deep knowing that I am to live in community, making time for it. Being intentional. Loving each other well. I look back at the girl who served at FBCW and started a teen ministry for girls and I shake my head. I have no idea who that girl was or how she did all that. YIKES!!! And while I am glad I”m not her – I prefer this gal that He’s making new – I wish I had her desire and heart for others again. (And perhaps I should continue this is one of our email threads;) But, yes, we MUST walk together.

  4. We met at She Speaks last year. I’m a widowed mom of four and this week the freshness of loneliness has been raw. It’s been 2 1/2 years after 20 of marriage. This post encouraged my heart today when I am feeling so alone and so longing for someone new to share my life with. This is hard. I’m exhausted. God is present. God is faithful! God has made me brave each day of this long journey. But life is still better lived with someone. Thanks for the honesty here.

    • Of course I remember you! And Chelsea and Molly by the book table during dessert:) It’s one of my favorite memories of She Speaks – as if God placed us there for much-needed encouragement. I am so glad you found some encouragement, Jenn. It’s an odd thing – the feelings of loneliness and exhaustion juxtaposed with the gift of children. It’s hard to say you’re lonely because you have four precious gifts. And I feel bad saying I am exhausted because I don’t want my kiddos to feel bad. But, I know EXACTLY what you mean…It’s so very hard to articulate, but know I am praying for you. For strength. For courage and bravery. For your journey. Much love, Jenn!

  5. Marla Taviano says:

    Loooooooooooooove you!!!!

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