People claim that time heals all wounds.

I respectfully disagree.

There is value in time. There is value in the wait. There is value in the belief that everything happens at just the right time. I believe that, too.

However, I don’t believe time heals anything. Time, itself, will not heal your wounds.

In the beginning of my widowhood journey, I believed it did, too. I believed that things would magically change at the one year mark, simply because it had been 365 days since my husband died, as if a calendar year meant something. Time kept on going by, and yet, none of my wounds were healing. My heart was still hurting every day. I still hated the way my life had turned out. Every night, I still wanted to go to sleep and hoped I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.

And the days kept going… Weeks… Months…

I noticed that people don’t get over a loss like this. Some people don’t even get through it. They go years, decades even, and still, every morning, they wake up with the same pain and the same hole in their chest. The same pain every widow feels, regardless of circumstance, age, lifestyle, etc. I know you know the pain I’m talking about. Your chest physically hurts. Your smiles are forced and fake. You often feel like curling up into the fetal position and never moving. You constantly feel like something is missing. You want to hide from the world because there doesn’t seem to be anything or anyone here worth living for anymore.

That pain.

Maybe you’re reading this and you feel it right now. Or maybe you’re like me, and that pain has gradually faded, only popping up occasionally, but lighter each time it shows it’s ugly face.

In just four days, I will reach day 1,000. A thousand days without the man I thought I would have forever. Time has gone by for me.

But time hasn’t healed me. If I would have continued to believe that time was going to heal all my wounds, that all I had to do was wait for the pain to go away, I would still be feeling that same pain every day. I would feel that pain as I wrote this and honestly probably wouldn’t be able to write this.

However, the pain is soft today, and so I’m writing this to lovingly tell you that time won’t heal your wounds. Time won’t fill that gaping hole in your heart. Time won’t lesson the pain, except maybe mask it, hidden as something else: anger, hate, despair… Neither time nor man nor job nor move will heal you.

And yet, it is not hopeless.

It was January 2018, about 19 months into widowhood. And I was done. Long story short, I hated the life I was suddenly given – a widowed mom at 22 years old. I often say that the only thing that kept me alive during this time was my children and the fact that I was the only parent they had left.

But just recently I read something amazing while reading the book of Romans in the Bible:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).

Hope does not disappoint.

Hope is never lost.

Even during such a dark time when I felt so hopeless, there was still this small light of hope inside of me simply because I had faith in a God who was bigger than my pain. I have always believed, ever since I was a kid. My life was built on a foundation of God. And yet, when my husband died, after I had already lost two children in miscarriages months before, my faith wavered. My life crumbled. My spirit shattered.

In January 2018, I told the God who created me that I was done living this life that was given to me, that He needs to do something because I quit.

And my almighty God answered with a year full of pain and tears and grief and loneliness, and yet also growth and laughter and finding a tribe of people who love me as I am. In this last year, God has gently knitted together the huge, gaping hole that once was in my heart. Today, that hole is smaller. Today, my pain is soft, a gentle, cherished reminder of all that I have lived through, and not only survived, but thrived through.

I am now about 33 months into widowhood. I still miss my husband. I will always miss him. Healing isn’t about not missing them- it’s not about moving on or forgetting them. Healing is about growth and strength. Healing is about doing and being better. Healing is a choice that one day you have to make for yourself.

I made the decision to run to God as if my life depended on it- because my life did depend on it. It was something I knew I should have done sooner, but I was angry and bitter. At the time, I didn’t believe anything could ever get better. However, I believe I made the decision to start healing at just the right time for me because I honestly do not think I would have made it much longer in that dark place.

Every day, the more I allow God into my life, the more light He continues to shine on my darkness. As David writes in Psalm 139: “Even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You” (Psalm 139:12). Because even in the darkness that we hide from everyone else in this world, God knows it, and no darkness- grief, shame, anger, bitterness, hate, mourning- is dark to Him. We cannot hide from Him. He knows us inside and out.

And in the greatest pain I have and will ever experience in my lifetime, God has created beauty out of ashes. He has restored my faith in Him. He has given me an unbelievable amount of peace. He has healed and continues to heal the gaping hole in my heart. God has made healing from this unbearable loss- which I once believed impossible- possible.

All you have to do is choose it, and allow God into your life to do His amazing work within and through you.

My prayer is that one day you will choose Him, too, just as I have chosen Him, and He has chosen you.