“Why Am I Here?” by Sheryl Gehrls
|Principle #5: Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lost my purpose and direction. I often find myself asking, “What comes next?” During this painful time, I choose to seek wise counsel, and to spend time seeking what Gods new purpose will be for me as I move ahead into the next season of my life.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
Why Am I Here?
As I considered what to write about Refocusing Principle #5, I once again thought of the kaleidoscope image that God gave me regarding Refocusing Widows. A kaleidoscope can become a very dynamic parade of beautiful images simply by slowly rotating it. Each pattern is unique and beautiful in its own right, but completely different than the one that went before it.
Life can be like that, especially for widows. The life we have known for many years has completely changed, but the new pattern isn’t yet clear. To find the new pattern requires another shift. The very real danger is that we will become “stuck” between patterns. Without taking a “next step”, the exciting new life is unable to emerge.
Often this is simply a matter of looking at things a different way – through a different lens, if you will, or from a different angle. I just googled “visual perception puzzles” and was amazed at the results. Our eyes and brains are more than willing and able to distort how we see something. Sometimes what we see is simply not what’s there!
The same can be said about our life as a widow. What our thoughts and emotions tell us is very often just not the truth. In the scripture verse with Principle #5 we see that God still has things for us to do! That is the reality regardless of what our thoughts tell us!! It’s a matter of perspective. Will we look at our future through the filter of our own pain, or will we look at the days ahead through the filter of God’s Word and the knowledge of His love for us? And what’s more, He has given us the gift of freely choosing our perspective!
In her devotional, “Hope For an Aching Heart”, Margaret Nyman says this: “Getting used to widowhood means learning to move forward without my husband.” Losing my way and not knowing which way to turn is common to every widow. That’s normal and to be expected. Dave was the rudder that kept my boat going straight ahead. Without him, I simply went in circles and crooked lines for more than two years! There’s nothing wrong with this as a temporary situation. The problem comes when we can’t move ahead again and feel like we’re unable to find our new purpose – our reason for getting up in the morning.
It’s so important to realize that God has CALLED me to be a widow in this season of my life. How can that be? Aren’t people called to be pastors, missionaries, or teachers? But called to be a widow? The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!”. If I am following God’s will for my life, then this simply must be part of it. He calls me to follow Him wherever He leads.
According to Ephesians 2:10, God has clearly “marked out” a path for me that is filled with amazing deeds that He desires me to accomplish. Being a widow is not God’s “second best” for me. It’s all a part of His plan and doesn’t catch Him by surprise! In this new life of being a “one”, God is preparing me for something else just as beautiful and amazing as my former life. Different isn’t necessarily bad!!
So, how do we find our way through this to begin to clarify our new purpose and direction. How do we find an answer to the question “What’s next for me?”. Romans 8:28-29 tells us that God causes everything to work together for good SO THAT I might be conformed to image of His Son Jesus. He’s not trying to conform me to my idea of what’s good. His idea of good is that I become like Jesus. What an amazing thought! The good, the bad, the wonderful, the terrible, the easy, the difficult – all of the situations of my life combine to cause me to become more like Jesus.
One of the most effective ways to continue to grow and move through our grief is to experience shared grief with other widows. Forming new relationships with those who have had common experiences is a powerful way to find hope. Those who are just ahead of us on the journey, or perhaps many years ahead of us, can help us negotiate all those unfamiliar situations that we face. They encourage us and provide a unique kind of camaraderie. (All of our Refocusing Widows groups, by the way, are peer led – all facilitators are widows themselves.) They become mentors for us who have literally walked the path ahead of us.
One of the most difficult aspects of this process is having to wait. Psalms 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” He doesn’t tell us how long any given season will last. We must learn to patiently wait until He clarifies the plan for the road ahead. But wait on Him we must! It is essential not only to quiet our hearts in His Presence, but to actively ask Him, “What comes next for me?”. He doesn’t always give us immediate answers to our questions, but when the time is right, He will answer what speaks to our heart.
How long have you been on this journey of being a widow? Has God begun to answer your questions or to give you glimpses of what comes next for you? Please share with us your thoughts and comments or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.