What to do with Pain as a Widow: 2 Critical Keys

The most helpful truth I learned

There’s no way to make death and grief OK. Death is an aberration in God’s universe, and every time we meet it there is suffering. We try all kinds of things to delay it, ignore it, and pretend we can evade it, but not one of us can escape death. Death hurts – a lot.

Grief is many things; loss, loneliness, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, exhaustion, and so much more. Grief comes in waves, and each one is different than the one before. If you’ve lost someone close to you, even caring friends are unlikely to fully appreciate its deep and long-lasting impact on your mind, heart, and life.

I think the best word to describe the impact of death on those of us left behind is pain. What do you do with the pain as a widow? The death of my husband Al last year wounded me deeply. And yet I’m still standing. Some days are harder than others, but I keep going. Some have asked how I can do so. It’s more than simply knowing God, although that’s important.

Several things have been helpful in my grief journey, but there’s one thing I’ve come to know that has made the most difference. And it is this:

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

You could take out the double negative and it would still be true; this is supposed to hurt. This is not OK. And when we as Christians try to make it OK we cripple our own hearts and miss out on the empowerment God would like to gift us with.   Tweet that.

For those of us going through grief it often seems that if we could just make the pain go away everything would be alright. But that’s not what God promises, at least not yet.

And it’s not even true. If the pain would magically go away, so would the memories, the love, the gift of that person in your life. That is true even if the relationship also included suffering.

Pain means we care. Pain means we loved. Pain means this is not the way God intended our lives and the world to be. Pain means our love was deep, our lives are different because of that loved one’s place in it, and their time on this earth changed us forever. Those are good things. Would we really not want to hurt at the death of someone we cared about so deeply?

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

So what do you do with the pain? How do you go on? Can you even go on?

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What to Do when Your Husband Calls You Frigid

5 Things a Christian Wife Needs to Know

Frigid

Your husband berates you when you turn down his requests for sex, or when you don’t want to do the sexual acts he would like. Perhaps he even lobs Scripture at you, criticizing you for not meeting his sexual needs as the Bible says you should. Your husband calls you frigid. (Is that still a word the “younger generation” knows and uses? I could be dating myself.)

Your heart is crushed. You feel embarrassed or ashamed, or perhaps angry. Is there something wrong with you?

There are couples where the wife has a stronger sexual desire than her husband, and some husbands have learned wonderful ways to help their wives enjoy physical intimacy. But some Christian wives carry a boatload of guilt and/or shame about their sexual response or lack thereof.

Let me help unburden your heart. Here are 5 things to know as a Christian wife.

  1. You have the right to say NO.

Your husband does not own you. Your body is not his property. You are not sinning when you say NO to your husband’s request for sex. God gave you the responsibility of caring for your mind, body, and soul in a way that first and foremost honors Him, and that allows you to offer your best self to your husband, your family, and others He places in your life.

That means if you’re used up, exploited, and empty, part of your responsibility is to find godly healthy ways to get filled up again. You don’t sit back and wait for someone else to fill you; you proactively go after the nourishment your soul needs.

  1. God made your husband to desire sex.

Your husband is not a brute because he wants sex frequently.

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Thank You for Telling Me About You

5 Things I Learned from your Survey Responses

Thanks for SharingRecently you received an opportunity to answer a brief survey from Dr Carol Ministries. Many of you responded. Thank You for sharing your thoughts! That means more to me than you know. You were candid, generous, and thoughtful.

That survey is still open. If you’d like to add your responses, you can do so right here. (If you have already taken this survey and have further comments, just click REPLY to this email and I’ll be glad to listen.)

Your concerns and suggestions have my mind going a million miles an hour. I’m truly excited to see the areas where you would like help. Some of you asked specific questions, and I’m going to work on answering many of those questions in posts, articles, and other resources in the coming weeks.

I’d like to answer just a few of the comments from those of you who have already responded.

  1. Marriage issues are number one.

Marriage problems was the most frequently mentioned issue you struggle with. You’re hurting here. Disunity, differences over sex, lack of emotional intimacy, struggles with aging in your relationship, feeling like your spouse is disengaged – really painful stuff. And some of you are struggling with divorce, widowhood, or the lack of a relationship.

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When Your Spouse is Not a Christian

5 Keys to Preserving both your Marriage and your Faith

Lonely SpouseYou cry. You pray. You wonder how long you can hold on. You wrestle with guilt and loneliness. You look at other Christian couples with envy. If you’re a believer, daily life has special challenges when your spouse is not a Christian.

And whatever your spouse’s spiritual status, you also still have all the other “stuff” of married life to contend with; communication, intimacy, money, in-laws, children, etc. You may struggle with the same false beliefs about marriage, and need to be reminded of what is true about marriage.

You may be tempted to believe that other couples where both partners are Christians have it so much easier, or that if only your spouse would “become a Christian” everything would be OK. That’s not necessarily so. Some of the most heartbreaking stories I hear are from those whose Christian husband or wife abuses, betrays, or otherwise causes them extreme pain.

That said, some of your challenges may be unique. How do you deal with your spouse when they don’t share your faith? How do you balance what may feel like competing loyalties? Is it worth it to keep on praying?

Paul encouraged those whose husband or wife was not a believer to remain married if their spouse was willing. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14) God may use you to draw your spouse to Himself. (1 Corinthians 7:16)

But what practically can you do to both survive and “help” God bring your spouse into His kingdom? Here are 5 keys.

  1. Don’t play junior Holy Spirit.

God has not given you the job of “fixing” or “saving” your spouse. That’s HIS job! No human being has a right to play Holy Spirit in anyone else’s life – not even your spouse’s. (You DO have a job though. More on that in the coming steps.) God honors your spouse’s free will, and you need to do the same.

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The Stockdale Paradox and Spiritual Warfare

2 Ingredients You Must Have to Win

Barged WireVice Admiral James B. Stockdale was an officer in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He became a fighter pilot, and in 1965 he was shot down while returning from his second combat tour over North Vietnam. Held for nearly eight years as a prisoner-of-war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”, he suffered repeated torture and years in solitary confinement without any prisoner’s rights, and with no assurance that he would survive the war or live to see his family again.[1]

As the highest ranking officer in the camp, Stockdale shouldered responsibility for the other men also held there. He made it his mission to do everything in his power to help the men survive unbroken, while at the same time leading the American resistance against Vietnamese attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda. He instituted a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior which provided the men with hope and empowerment. He developed an elaborate method of internal communication the men could use even during enforced silence or solitary confinement. Risking further torture or death if discovered, he found ways to forward secret intelligence to the US government through letters he was allowed to write to his wife. Following his release he received a total of 26 medals including the Medal of Honor.

Could you survive that kind of trauma? What kept Admiral Stockdale sane during those years of imprisonment and torture? What allowed him to do so much to help so many other men survive unbroken?

The Stockdale Paradox

Researcher and author Jim Collins writes of an enlightening conversation he had with Stockdale. When asked how he made it through Stockdale responded;

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