This week I heard someone say… Our life story is full of more rewrites than writes. If you don’t like what’s on the page… rewrite it. What an empowering thought! If we don’t like the direction we are headed, we can decide to change it.
Finding the words to say for this blog has been really hard. I want to share an encouraging message of hope for my fellow Hope Sisters. It’s been nearly impossible to concentrate and decide a direction to go. Why, you might wonder?
Three years ago yesterday, Thursday, my beloved husband left his earthly body and went home to his mansion in heaven. My heart and mind keep reliving this life-altering event. Here’s what I wrote in my journal a few days after he was gone:
I was sitting beside him, as I had been for nearly 72 hours almost non-stop, holding his hand. He stopped holding mine just hours before when the doctor did his morning check and told me Bruce now probably had pneumonia. His breathing was so loud and labored and my heart hurt because there was nothing I could do to help, except reassure him I was there, tell him how much I loved him, and encourage him it was okay for him to go to Jesus now. Intermittently I stroked his forehead and told him what day it was and how everyone was doing.
At 1:28pm he suddenly just stopped breathing—and the room was eerily silent except for the quiet praise music I had playing on the CD player. I think I stopped breathing, desperately hoping – wishing—yet at the same time not wanting him to suffer so bad anymore—I would hear him breathe again. It felt like the world stopped and went into slow motion. There was no breath. He did not move. I jumped to the other side of the bed and hit the call button. The nurse’s aide poked her head in the room and I heard myself say, “I think he is gone.” Tears were streaming down my face as I was trying to grasp what was happening. I was talking to him and telling him I loved him. His skin was warm and soft—how could he be gone?
The doctor, two nurses and the nurse’s aide stepped into the room and the doctor listened for a heartbeat. He said, “Time of death—1:33pm.” I wanted to argue with him. I wanted to shout NO! I think they were telling me they were sorry. I looked at Bruce again and I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to let go of his hand.
Then I remembered they had to get him ready to have his brain donated so we will finally know what stole him from me. I told the nurses, and they already had the bags of ice ready and asked me if it would be ok if they prepared his body. I kissed him one more time, and stepped out of the room. I collapsed on a bench in the hall, and the tears came like a raging flood. I knew I had to call some people. All I could do was text his brother, “He’s in heaven.” Then I called my brother and asked him to call my daughter and to let my family know.
A friend from church arrived and saw me sitting there on the bench, and I told her Bruce was gone. She held me as I cried some more. The nurses came out and said I could go back into the room and Bruce was ready.
Bruce looked radiant. His skin was baby smooth—I didn’t see a wrinkle anywhere. His face glowed like the light of heaven was streaming from him. He wasn’t in any more pain. He wasn’t struggling for every breath anymore. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he was home in heaven. I made my final goodbyes. Soon after my daughter and her husband arrived and said their goodbyes.
My friend from church followed me home to be sure I got there okay. I hadn’t slept much in weeks. Now the hard part begins. Now I need to figure out where I go from here.
I absolutely hate the fact my heart is still so vulnerable, and the pain can rage like a tsunami… try to consume me and destroy me in its wake. It’s been three long years and I still face wipeouts. I’ve made serious progress and with God’s help I am taking steps forward to rewrite my life’s story. Yet, just like hurricane Ian that just ripped through Florida and upended many lives and destroyed many dreams, some of the storms in our own lives stir up chaos and throw us off balance.
When my husband was by my side, we had so many plans for our future. They were plans for things we wanted to do together. The plans needed both of us to get accomplished. There weren’t any contingency plans for independent living.
Whenever my busy thoughts are out of control, the soothing comfort of Your presence calms me down and overwhelms me with delight. Psalm 94: 19
This verse from Psalm 94 is very reassuring. No matter how it looks or feels now, we must hold on. Quitting is not an option, even when chapters of our life story are unexpected and not desired. We stay the course with a full assurance that somehow, some way, God takes what the enemy meant for the bad and turns it to the good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.
God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet He also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, His holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny. So we are convinced every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are His lovers who have been called to fulfill His designed purpose. Romans 8: 27-28
I don’t want to keep falling in this hole of pain, especially when I know God has a purpose and plan for me. When these struggles, big or small, come knocking on my heart, I call out to Jesus to give me grace to hang on and help me rewrite the script so I can embrace the good and change course as needed to complete His designed purpose.
Our failures or heartaches may shape who we are, because we are human and vulnerable to these things, but they do not define us. We always have options. We can choose to lean on the Lord. There is no limit on the number of edits and rewrites we make to our story.
It begins with believing God really loves us. I can’t survive this on my own. The pain and the unknown are too big for me to process by myself. I need God to take me by the hand and walk me through this life and whatever the future holds. These last couple years have been so hard. Everything in my life changed. I make a conscious choice to give my life to God. I believe He loves me and wants the best for me. I believe He loves all of us.
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and You understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness You follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.
You laid Your hand on me!
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.
Psalm 139: 1-6 The Passion Translation
I encourage you to keep reading this wonderful Psalm. It goes on to describe how God created us in our mother’s womb and expresses so beautifully how much He loves us. Our creator made us so He could spend time with us and build a relationship with us. He wants to be included in the story of our lives.
There’s a beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli called, Write Your Story. Here’s the first verse and chorus:
You’re the King of everything.
The One who taught the wind to sing.
The Source of the rhythm my heart keeps beating.
And they say,
You can give the blind their sight.
And You can bring the dead to life.
You can be the hope my soul’s been seeking.
I’m an empty page, I’m an open book.
Write Your story on my heart.
Come on and make Your mark,
Author of my hope, Maker of the stars.
Let me be Your work of art.
Won’t You write Your story on my heart.
Write Your story, write Your story.
Come on and write Your story, write Your story.
Won’t You write Your story on my heart.
(You can hear it on YouTube here.)
My journey is full of ups and downs, over and unders. We all find a path and travel it a while. Things come along to stop us in our tracks, send us on detours, wash our feet out from under us, and even send us to triumphant heights.
I may be three years down this widow path, but there still is so much I don’t know or understand. I’m seeking… I’m trying to find my footing. I made some progress and I know I’ll keep going. Maybe what I’m ready to realize is it’s okay not to have all the answers yet. Perhaps I’m finally able to see I have options available to me. Options I never considered before. Even options that would not have been possible if my husband was still with me.
I think I might be okay with being an empty page. I want God to write my story and follow the plans He has for me. His plans are good. His plans include my strengths and my gifts. He is the author of my hope! Lord, I pray You will write my story and let me be Your work of art.