Widows have a great purpose.
|The Widows "Might"
Most of us are familiar with the story of the frail widow who wobbles to the offering plate and tosses in her very last mite. Giving all she had, we picture her going home to starve to death, then going home to be with the Lord. Most think of it as a last act offered by a beaten and tragic heart. But I believe the story did not end there.
When we think of widows, we see them as disfunctional victims. We think they merit only our pity. But the process of becoming a widow has unseen gifts hidden inside the pain and loss. I believe that biblical widow had grown so accustomed to being left in a state of lack since the death of her husband that she grew stong and kicked some serious butt. The Pharisees were a rather selfish and self-important group of men. Widows were not their top priority. Men ruled everything including the pursestrings of women back then. Commerce was not freely given to women. Social circles were limited and women were not allowed to have men friends without being suspected of immoral activity. So how was a widow to function without "manly" help? With the strength of Jesus himself. I believe he revealed her own hidden strengths. I believe it was a time of personal discovery for her. I believe she was able to look the pious community of men in the eye and call it as she saw fit. I believe she found her gumption. And I believe she found a deeper faith and trust in God. It was a courageous move to throw in one's last semi-penny. But she knew in her heart that God keeps his promises. I believe that Jesus made sure she was well provided for as a reward for her faith. She had prevailed through the worst of circumstances and yet kept a heart tender toward Christ.
I am privileged to know several widows. They are all very different. Some were life-long housewives. Some were career women. Some rich, some poor. But they all have one common factor, the loss of a husband. And I have seen them gain something with that loss. The saying "The Lord giveth, The Lord taketh away.", can be reversed to "The Lord taketh away, the Lord giveth." For God is a God of balance and order and God is not just a taker, but a giver as well. In fact, he only removes things and people from our lives like a gifted surgeon. What is left is stronger, more compassionate. More functional than it was before. I am not by any means down-playing the loss of a husband or his importance in the lives of their wives by any means. But it is in removing such a great contributor to their quality of life that enables them to become the driving force of nature known as the widow.
My mother married my father at the tender age of 19. She lost him at the tender age of 44. She had been a stay-at-home wife and mother their entire marriage. She focused on her husband and her children. Her friends were her extended family. She had few outside interests. My father performed every household repair. He climbed the towering oaks in their yard and trimmed the highest branches. He cleaned the gutters, cut the grass, changed the oil, primed the appliances, fixed leaking pipes. He supported her financially, and cherished her immensely. After he died she was left to fend for herself. We were there for her but it was still paralyzing for her.
She was stoic at the funeral and was attending ladies bible studies once a week. She was attending church on Sundays. But she soon fell into the cracks of widows wasteland. Funeral long-passed; she was now left with the question,"Now what?". She would get into her car daily and go anywhere as long as it wasn't home. This was good and bad. It was good that she socialized but bad in the way she did it. She was afraid and insecure and for many years after she played the part of the fragile widow. She lived off my dad's insurance money and stagnated.She feared failure in anything. When her finances ran out she was faced with the grim reality that she would lose her home. Though I secured a 40,000 dollar home loan to help her, this was a temporary solution to the problem.
I thought about her situation. I thought about how she loved to get in her car and drive all day. Then a thought popped into my brain,"Bus Driver". I said,"Mom, since you like going out in your car and driving all day, Why not apply for a bus driver job? They'll train you and pay for your CDL." She did not say anything right away but she did just that. Soon she had passed her test and was granted a CDL. She was busing special needs kids and high school teenagers. They adored her. She loved the feeling of power driving a huge bus gave. Her route wandered through the mountain roads of New Jersey. She made friends with fellow drivers. She gained the respect of the children she transported which is not an easy task because teens can be rude. It was a source of joy and accomplishment for her. I say "was" because God saw fit to take again. My mother became ill with sudden onset Rheumatoid Arthritis. A total affront to her immune system left her unable to climb the steps of her cherished bus. Her students and their parents cried when she told them she could no longer perform her job. If there was an electronic lift for drivers I am sure she would have kept working. But that wasn't the only problem. Drivers are required to sit in a bus and wait for long periods. In the frigid winter months, it was excruciatingly painful to her with her RA.
Forced to stay home again, I'm sure she must have had flashbacks similar to the ones she experienced shortly after my dad died. She became depressed again. It has been a couple years since she left her bus driving job. I know God has another purpose for her. I pray for Him to reveal it to her or another person either personally or by another's voice. Seasons of change abound in the widow's life. Widow's are tough cookies. They multi-task. They have no choice. They either graduate from Widow's University or they perish. The gifts are there for them to use. It just takes the courage to look within and find them. My mother is still a student in that school.She might be playing hooky or skipping a few classes, but I know she will graduate Summa Cum Laude when she looks within once again. I wait with great expectancy to see what new opportunities she will take hold of. I know my father is looking on proudly as he been since he went home to be with our Lord.
My mother has gone from a cherished wife to a steely do-it-yourselfer. She has harnessed a courage she never knew existed and found a greater purpose for her life through the gift of widowhood. It is not an easy gift. It cannot be returned. It might sit unused and ignored, but once opened, it is a gift that keeps on giving to others for as long as the widow so chooses.
My mother's brother has just passed away this past October. His wife has been a career woman her entire marriage.They were married 50 years. She is a new widow. I pray it be a time of spiritual rebirth for her as well. I shudder to think the awesome waves she will make when she takes hold of the "Widows Might" that awaits for her to grasp and utilize to His glory. Widows are not a feeble-minded,fragile bunch of insipid peahens. They are intelligent, courageous, and full of compassion.They are strong and they are beautiful. I am blessed by what I have seen them do. I have been touched by their graciousness and their generosity in the face of their own circumstances. Widows are not invisible. They are a driving force in our community. They are the cherished Grandmothers, Aunts, friends. They are the steely board executive who sees her payroll through another quarter. They are the bus driver who tirelessly transports special needs kids safely to and from their homes. They are the grandmother and greatgrandmother to children who adore them.They are the mother to daughters going through changes that they have already been through.They are the givers of sage advice.They are the neighbor who offers her vehicle.She is the first one to check on your family after storms or fires, For she has seen what can happen and she knows she is needed.
They are anyone in between who God has seen fit to bless with the gift of "take". We would so much poorer without them. No wonder Jesus held them in such high esteem. Thank you Lord for all of them. Bless them and keep them going so we might watch and learn from them. And in watching we might see your love and purpose for us too.
by Kimarie Manhart-freeman