Kevin, my sweet husband, died 8 years ago today.
February 21, 2008.
How can that be possible?
8 years ago I was 36. Now, YIKES, I am almost 45!
In so many ways 8 years seems like a blink of an eye. But in other ways, 8 years feels like an eternity. A. Really. Long. Eternity. In fact, it almost feels like a different lifetime.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been a lot of JOY in the past 8 years. TONS! But for so many of the days, I have felt like I was just existing. I love my 6 kids fiercely. I love being a mom. But to be perfectly honest, I NEVER wanted to do it alone. It is hard. Really challenging. My hands have been thrown up in defeat so many times, more than I can even count. I so often feel like I have failed. That I have screwed my kids up. That I am totally worthless. That I haven’t done enough or become enough. And after screaming, cleaning (it’s how I vent), getting frustrated and angry with my kids or dogs, I remember that I am not alone. I remember to look up. To cry out to Him. To surrender all of the pain to Him.
And Jesus, in His ways that so often don’t even begin to make sense, has led me to this:
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor WIDOW came and put in two MITES, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but SHE, out of her poverty, PUT IN EVERYTHING—all she had to live on.”
As I read this Scripture, what stood out at me is that this widow GAVE EVERYTHING that she had. All of it. She spared none. These 2 mites were a sacrifice for her. They were her ‘skin in the game.’ She felt this. She could have used those mites for so much more, but she still gave it all away. I have always thought about this passage in reference to money, specifically 2 mites. But this time when I read it with fresh eyes, as a widow myself, I thought about this sweet lady giving more than just money. I pictured her to be exhausted, lonely, desperate, longing for more. So for her to give above and beyond her capacity is a complete sacrifice on her part. I’m going to call it the widow’s ‘Sacrificial Mite.’ And as I applied this new phrase to my life over the past 8 years, I looked at my ‘Sacrificial Mites.’ Where have I truly given it all? Where is my ‘skin in the game?’
Here are a few:
*Being the only parent to clean up puke in the middle of the night (More times than I care to count! In a future post I will tell you about the missing iPod that was thought to be in a garbage bag with puke rags. Let’s just say it wasn’t in the bag! EWW!)
*Endless hours of driving
*Saying yes to friends coming over even when 6 was more than I could handle
*Sitting up late at night talking with my teenagers about real life issues
*Holding my kids while they cried for their dad
*Saying “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?” like 100 times in a day
*Dealing with broken appliances
*Being Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Birthday Shopper all by myself so that the kids could still enjoy gifts and traditions on holidays
*Teaching 4 kids how to drive
*Dental surgeries and orthodontist appointments (Big reminders that Kevin isn’t here)
*Graduations, Proms, Homecomings, College drop-offs
*Taking the kids on vacation
*Sports practices and games (This is basically torture for me because I hate sports!)
*More endless hours of driving
Now trust me. I may have given. Sacrificially given, even. But I haven’t always had the energy, strength, or even the desire to give in these ways I mentioned. My ‘Sacrificial Mites’ have not always had the best attitude accompanying them. On more occasions than I care to admit, I have been ticked off that I have even had to do them, and most of the time I would strongly prefer doing other things instead. And trust me, I NEVER SIGNED UP TO DO ANY OF THESE without Kevin. EVER. As a result, I may have had a meltdown about that more times than not as well.
So in order to survive the past 8 years, I have had to admit that I am weak. There’s a zero percent chance that I could do these things totally on my own. Zero percent. I’m not a math person AT ALL, so I’m not sure if there can be negative percents, but if there could be, I would most definitely fall below zero percent! What was required of me to make these ‘Sacrificial Mites’ MIGHTY was to fall on my face before Jesus, get real, and tell HIM that I needed to trust Him to provide for me. I needed energy. Strength. Endurance. Patience. Rest. Balance. Some time for myself. And then some more strength.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Like Paul, I have pleaded with Jesus to take it ALL away from me, though I am sure that I have begged more than just 3 times!! And I have to continually ask Him for strength. I am weak. Really weak. I blow it all of the time. But when I turn my gaze upward, admit where I fall short, the grace of Jesus gets me through. And it’s in these times where my ‘Sacrificial Mites’ become MIGHTY!
This is a daily battle. Selfish, prideful Suzie wants to win. But it’s when I truly surrender that I MORE than just exist. This is where true life is found. This is when I can say that I possess a ‘Widow’s Might.’
The story that God is writing in your life is different from mine. Some of you may be struggling with sickness, divorce, loss, abuse, emotional struggles, doubt, shame. Whatever your hardship, I encourage you to get real with God. Pour out your heart to Him. Acknowledge to Him that you NEED Him. His grace is sufficient. It won’t erase your pain. He may never take it away. But His power will be perfected. He will sustain you. His peace will surpass all of your understanding. I can tell you that this is the ONLY reason that I am still standing. It is only by God’s MIGHT that my ‘Sacrificial Mites’ are MIGHTY. It is by His strength alone that I am able to put skin in this game, to totally give it all. It is only by His grace that I am even still alive. I would have given up long ago. It’s just too much for me. I am way too weak. But He is the MIGHTY warrior who saves.
I am so excited to share with you more about this journey of healing, grace, and redemption that God has me on. Throughout this past year, my heart has really begun to stir, longing for more and wanting to make an impact in the lives of people who are hurting. I have felt restless, questioning my purpose and feeling like I was created for something, but unsure of what. I know that God has written a story in my life that is rippled with all sorts of twists and turns. It is messy and raw. It is tainted with poor choices as well as victories. The tapestry that he has woven together is the epitome of ashes to beauty. Lately I keep coming back to the first 2 verses in Psalm 105. The psalmist says, “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. Sing to Him, yes, sing His praises. Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds.” I want to use my story to glorify Him and to encourage others walking though dark times. He is the only source of my hope, and He is faithful even when I am not. I want to thank you so much for reading this and for being willing to walk alongside me. This journey has been an adventure. And while I have not exactly enjoyed every minute, I am grateful that I have grown in my faith and am a much deeper, braver, and mightier widow for Jesus.