Living in the Faith Zone
- Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I received my first sledgehammer blow when the surgeon walked into the waiting room and said, "I'm sorry, Mrs. Johnson. The tumor is inoperable. The cancer has spread to all parts of Richard's body."
This must be a nightmare, I thought, trying desperately to comprehend what this man in green scrubs was saying.
"We just returned from an Alaskan cruise," I stammered, trying to fight my way out of the nightmare into reality. "Just look at him. He's a big, robust, healthy-looking guy."
"Be thankful you took that trip when you did," the doctor responded.
"Are you trying to tell me we won't be taking more trips?" I asked.
"I'm sorry. There was nothing I could do." He sighed.
"If you're trying to tell me there is no hope, I won't accept that," I whispered. "We're Christians, and that means there is always hope."
During those next weeks, our family, friends, and especially I walked down a path of hope, believing and expecting a miracle. Not only did I expect a miracle, I did all in my power to make it happen. Day and night I cared for my husband of forty-six years, my high school sweetheart, and my best friend. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" was my stronghold. Each day I claimed this Scripture over and over. I could not, nor would not, accept
the fact that Richard was dying. If I could find the right doctor, pray hard enough, say the right words, selflessly care for him, I was convinced we would receive our miracle and he would go into remission.
Then, at 5:30 a.m. on January 21, 2003, I finally got the message--I'm not the Big Controller. When the doctor awakened me and led me from the hospital room, saying, "Richard's heart has stopped and he's not breathing," I felt completely out of control. What was I going to do? How could I live without my soul mate? What happened to our well-planned life? My road of hope was gone. I was on a dead-end street--without Richard--all by myself.
Actually, in the recesses of my mind I knew God was somewhere. But where? I didn't understand why God had allowed this horrible thing to happen, but I knew, no matter how miserable I was, I would be more miserable without Him. Somehow, someway, my faith in God had to be my new path. Not that I hadn't been on this path before, but this time I knew who was in control. The Bible verse, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7), led me as I put one foot in front of the other, one minute at a time.
One night I picked up a book prodding me to trust in God. While reading, I laid the book down and cried out, "Where are you, God, where are you?" Suddenly a card dropped out of the book, and the words on the card seeped through the walls of my broken heart.
It was a poem reminding us that our loved ones who had gone before us were happily waiting for us in heaven, bathed in His everlasting light. We only needed to be patient, and our time would come to be reunited.
The message reassured me Richard was safely home. He was not alone and I was not alone. I sobbed and snuggled into my newfound faith zone.
Two days later a friend called and suggested I contact another new widow. "Teri's going through the same grieving process," she said. I called Teri and found someone who understood--another reminder I was not alone.
"Shall we call Bob and the three of us get together next week?" Teri suggested. "You know his wife, Betty, died just four days before my husband, Jack."
Bob and Betty and Richard and I had been in the same Bible Study group for the previous three years. I felt comfortable meeting with Bob and Teri, and we began weekly meetings, forming a life-saving and life-changing grief support group.
"I'm so tired of people asking, ‘How are you doing?' when I can't tell them what I'm feeling," Teri commented.
"Sometimes honesty is not the best policy," Bob answered.
The tears flowed, honest feelings erupted, dependency on each other increased, and our special bond strengthened. Before Bob left for his summer vacation with family and friends, he announced, "You girls saved my life this past year."
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