Monday, April 26, 2021

Graces

 

Lilies along golf course

Beloved and I moved to this neighborhood in the spring. This is my third season to see these flowers alongside a golf cart path as my car exits the community. Last week I left my car in the sales center parking lot and walked to where I could snap some pictures. If you can believe it, these lilies looked more promising from the road. When I got closer it was clear the blooms were past their prime, not as impressive as I had anticipated.

I was disappointed but also had the thought these fading blooms illustrate how I often feel these days.... trying to look my best on the outside but not feeling normal in my thoughts. This is to be expected and admitting it is healthy. 

Figuring out what to do with myself as the emotions heal is a conundrum at times. Sometimes the day just seems to stretch out in front of me with nothing to do. 

Well of course, there is always something to do: wipe down the kitchen counters, clean bathrooms, laundry, vacuum, dust, pull weeds. I read a lot and watch Youtube sermons by my favorite speakers. All of that is helpful to an extent. 

Note: watching Hallmark is pretty much at the bottom of my list these days. The kissing is hard to take. You get it, I'm sure.

Weekends are the hardest since that's when most people break away from the daily routines and often that time is spent with families. Finding somebody to have Sunday lunch with after church got to be a real problem and became a breaking point for me. 

I came to the realization that asking somebody to lunch after the church service was not realistic. People already had their plans. So then I began asking a couple of days before. One weekend I was turned down by three different people! I couldn't take it personally -- I knew they weren't disliking me. They just had other plans or did not like the type of restaurant I had suggested, or other reasons. 

Eventually Blondie suggested I return to a former church where I knew for  certain a family would include me in their habitual Sunday lunch plans. It's interesting what dynamics are at play in the decisions of where we choose to worship! I made the change and am glad I did. 

vintage handkerchiefs

Gifts have been sent to me during this time of grief. One of the most practical was this envelope of vintage hankies from Parakeet. They will be used, I assure you. 

Back to the topic of church -- I can walk into the worship center feeling pretty good, but when the music begins, so do the waterworks. Music touches the deep, deep recesses of my soul and I absolutely cannot put a cap on the tears until the sermon begins. According to the instructions on grief, tears are helpful and should not be suppressed. (at least it's a silent process when in the company of others and the music drowns out my nose-blowing) 🥲

"Big Bird"

While my preference is often to stay at home curled up in my weighted blanket in a dark room hoping to sleep my way through this difficult season of my life, the Lord enables me to do the hard things that are helpful. 

Jersey gets me out walking the neighborhood about 4 afternoons or evenings per week (depending on the heat). That is good for human interaction, exercise, and sometimes we see interesting things like this Great White Egret that accompanied us for quite a while on the grassy lawns and then decided to fly to the pinnacle of a neighbor's garage. I had to smile at that.

our swimming pool

This past Saturday I ventured out to our community pool. I haven't been over there since before COVID hit, and even before that, when the weather was warm. Now you need to know swimming (or even being seen in swimwear) is not my sport of choice. But the point in going over there was to get myself out of the house to enjoy fresh air, sun shine, and to read from the comfort of a lounge chair in a pair of modest shorts and a decent top.

As it turned out, I got all those benefits and met some new friends. I overheard voices talking about GriefShare, caught the name of my church and also the name of my GriefShare leader. I turned to see the source of the conversation and decided to get brave and go introduce myself.

It was a good decision. Three friendly and kind ladies welcomed me to sit with them. I learned one of them is a recent widow like myself, and the other two have had their own share of hard times along that line. Not only was that a good interaction for me, but today I met Angel-Friend for lunch. We picked up where the conversation had left off at the pool. 

I'm learning that people want to help, they really do, but it is largely up to me to take the initiative, to speak up, to invite myself because others who are not hurting like me are often unaware of the depth and needs of my pain. This is a fact of life. 

I am hoping my sensitivity to the hurts of others is increasing with this experience in my life. You just never know the suffering people may be enduring behind their pleasant faces. We need to be kind,  gentle, patient, and good listeners. We need to let the Lord deal with any of their faults and just do our best as ambassadors of lovingkindness.

Grandson #4 and me

One really bright spot in my weekend was a few hours spent with Surfer Girl's family. I promise you, Grandson #4 was not taller than me five months ago at his Grandad's funeral. Life is moving forward even when I have a tendency to get stuck in my grief. Good times are ahead of me. I need to do the brave things by taking advantage of the blessings the Lord places in front of me.

One of Beloved's favorite Bible passages was Proverbs 3:5-6 where we are taught to trust in the Lord with all our heart. I am learning to take a harder look at the words, Lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways acknowledge Him and He will direct my paths, making them straight and plain.

Yes, Lord. Thank You for sticking with me through all of this. You are faithful and although progress seems painfully slow, You are with me. It's good. It is.

Until next time, grace and peace.

15 comments:

  1. Oh Barbara, my heart is so full after reading this post. One thing you are doing is making me more aware of the needs of those around me who may be going through similar trials and finding it difficult to reach out to others for fear of rejection in one way or another. I wish I could just open my doors an invite people in for lunch on a regular basis, or go out to lunch. I guess the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and doesn't have the energy it used to have for doing things like that. But you make me want to try harder and be more sensitive to those around me. I am happy to hear you made some new friends at the community pool who are in similar situations. I hope they will become some good friends for you in your neighborhood. And as far as changing churches goes, is this new (former) church closer to you? I hope you will find a place where you definitely feel welcome and a part of the "family". That is so important. Your grandson #4 is so tall and handsome and he looks like such a sweet young man. What a blessing!! Thank you for your continued openness to share your heart with us. It gives us food for thought as well as reasons to pray. God bless you my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I feel the same way Pam does about you moving post Barbara. You have given a picture of courage that can be there when one is in grief. How wise of you to return to your old church. I still have my husband but we moved last May from southern Ca. to northern Mn and it's been quite a challenge for me especially for both of us. One big reason is the pandemic shut down our ministry which involves lots of traveling, visiting missionaries home on furlough. We are using zoom, emails, facebook message, our phone face time now to connect with them. So we are still keeping in touch with them but it's not our heart. Our heart is face to face, take them out to eat, watch their faces as we talk. I have had bouts of depression, gained some weight from living through a hard winter of being shut in. On top of that we both got covid and still have recovery in some ways. all that to say, hard it has been not as hard as losing each other. You have encourage me since I know I might face living life without my mate someday since we are at the stage of age for it to happen. I love how brave and honest you are about dealing with your loss, thank you. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am glad to hear from you. I am glad you thought about a church that might benefit you. I am sure the weekends are the worse. You have reminded me I need to notice others more and be on the ready to help. TV is not much help these days for entertainment. I hope you will find some hobby or something to look forward too soon. You are in my thoughts often. I am also glad you introduced yourself to someone in the same place as you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perhaps they are not doing lunch because of the pandemic...my friends in Indiana and WV where I live are not going to in person church and never into restaurants. I am not in Florida either. Don’t take it personally...I love watching online and then cuddling up with a book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And, again, you are imparting such wisdom to those of us that have not walked in your shoes. We can never, ever know what someone is experiencing and we all experience grief differently. I try so hard to be thoughtful of what others are going thru but I'm sure I often fail. I'm so glad you reached out to the ladies at the pool and found a connection there. I think of you often and pray that each day will get just a bit easier for you. Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. So much good written here, Barbara. I'm glad you made the connections you did at the pool, and my personal take away is that I want to be the kind of friend you describe - someone that another will feel confident that I will include them. I appreciate you being brave and vulnerable sharing what you do here.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The connections you made at the pool truly sound like God-incidences, Barbara, as does the advice to visit your former church for support. The Lord does put people in our sphere when we least expect it, but need it the most, and it seems He's done that for you in this time of need and grief. All the progress you are making will be a series of one step forward/two steps back actions, but you will get from here to there, healed and stronger than ever.
    Praying for you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well done on taking the initiative and introducing yourself to the ladies at the pool. I think many people want to help in some way shape or form, but they don't know how or even what to say so I think it was a good thing for you to take that first step. Your grandson is a handsome young man. Thinking of you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is wonderful to see where and how The Lord is leading you. He cares about every aspect of your life and He is good all the time. (Those sneaky grandsons...they grow so tall so quickly. 😁)

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're staying busy and doing lots of things to keep you mind active. And activities make it easier to sleep at night...gives us that 'good tired' feeling. Love that pretty Egret! Take care! I'm always praying for you. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The pediatric doctor told our granddaughter at Addy and JJ's last appt. that Addy judging by their heights today that Addy will be about 5'4" and JJ will be 5'10". Time will tell. Grandkids shoot up like weeds. Love that Egret. A sweet Providence nudge in going to the poolside and overhearing that conversation and then reaching out! I read today about the fact that deep learning is slow and we learn things deeper over our lifetime and in different stages of our life. I think you are learning deep truths in your grief that others haven't been able to yet...
    Continue to teach us Lord about You! Hugs and prayers...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, that grandson has shot over you Barbara! They grow up too quickly. Of course I am so short that everyone is taller than me! LOL! Glad you pool venture brought forth a friend or two. Awe, if you were closer by I would invite you to Sunday dinner with my big crazy family. After about 10 minutes you might decide you'd rather be alone! LOL! I personally think Pandemic has slowed lots of things down in the area of entertaining or simply getting together for a meal and fellowship. We've never entertained others on Sundays as my immediate family is so large (14 of us) that I cook for and love doing so every Sunday. We've always called it our family day and we not only eat, but we talk about the things of life that are important to each of us and we share our concerns, happiness, joy and prayers with one another. However, before pandemic, I used to love to have other ladies over for a brunch or luncheon and fellowship. But, to be honest, even before pandemic it seemed that people were doing their own thing and was so busy that they didn't want to obligate to other things. I think it has gotten worse in my opinion at the busyness of life with so many. Or, maybe that's the excuse people use these days. Anyway, I'll get off that subject. LOL! But, I am glad to hear you are staying busy and active. I do pray that your choice of returning to a former church is the best decision ever for you dear Barbara. Hugs and blessings dear lady. Cindy

    ReplyDelete
  13. Barb, you really should give some thought to writing a book at some point, with your wise perceptions and honest acknowledgement of your feelings. You really do have a way with words and have helped me through feelings during my time of grief many times. I love that your daughter suggested you visit your old church. YES! And I agree with Martha that going to the pool that day, at that time was surely a God-thing. Absolutely. Love & hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I agree with Terri; I think you should think about writing a book and doing that very thing; write a book. I am keeping you in prayer, smiles.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is all foreign territory for you, Barbara, so there will be ups and downs. But, it sounds like several positive things have happened lately like meeting the ladies by the pool and going to another church. You're right--people would love to help, but often need to be asked. One never knows if a grieving person wants to be left alone or what... so, ask away, I say. Sending a hug and continuing to keep you in my thoughts and prayers ♥

    ReplyDelete