I’m In

I join my friend Lisa every Monday night, live on social media, to talk about widowhood.  When she first pitched me the idea  I was completely reluctant. I didn’t want to be on camera. I didn’t want anyone knowing my flaws. Seeing my flaws. Hearing my sad tale. As a writer it seemed okay to put “it” on paper for people to read. Actually talking out loud on livestream? Absolutely not. I’m a terrible talker. I ALWAYS say the wrong thing. I’m convinced I have a miswired brain. I know in my mind what I’m trying to say and it invariably comes out construed. Writing? Much better platform for someone like me.  But, for whatever reason,  I texted Lisa back and said, “I’m in”. 

The very first broadcast I belted back two shots of Titos in my dead husbands  35 year old KA shot glass before signing on. I am woman hear me roar! Well, not really. The entirety of my 27 year marriage I had never done a single shot. I figured what better time to start my new boldness with, well, boldness!  I don’t remember much except that I survived it and I said “yes” to the following weeks Instalive. With each week that passed, I began to realize I was verbally exposing parts of myself that I hadn’t  talked about with anyone except my grief counselor. I said a lot of things wrong. I said a lot of things to evade  real issues and  instead provoke laughter. And still, I kept returning, and so did our tiny little following of women.

We have talked boldly about missing having sex  yet not possibly imagining  being with anyone else. No, wait, maybe we are ready to date?! Wait, just kidding,  on second thought? Maybe not yet. The roles our dogs have played in our healing. Our kids. Our faith. Our communities.  All of our dialoging and processing is the exact kind of nonsensical rambling that would have sent me over the freaking edge 5 years ago. And yet? LOL here I am. I’ve held in all this crap for all this time that I thought was inconsequential. Evidently it matters to a number of other  women too who just won’t say it out loud either. They keep tuning in and contacting us. It has been a joy  making connections. 

I had no idea who I was after my husband died. My entire identity was stripped away. Couple that with moving to a metropolitian area? I went from somebody to nobody pretty dag gone quickly. It’s humbling. But I had to make a decision to be me or to hang on to being Mrs. Robin Wooten for the rest of my life. I chose me.  I still don’t have the majority of it all figured out. But I do know this:  I’ve believed God would show me. I’ve believed God would place me where I needed to be. I’ve believed God at his word of never leaving me nor forsaking me.   The day after Robin died it was chaos in our home.  I was in the bathroom trying to just get away from all the people. I sat down on the bench in the shower and tried not to cry. That’s when I heard the Lord say, “trust me”. 

Terrible things happen. Life has to go on or it doesn’t. You can Trust or not trust.  Once you’ve decided to Trust him? I’m finding life is a whole lot more fun just saying, “I’m in”.

“Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you”~Hebrews 13:5

Friday Night Coincidence

When I left Eastern North Carolina, after living there my entire adult life, I was standing on God’s promise “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord”-Isaiah 66:9. Honestly, I was both skeptical and excited. The past year I’ve been living in the land of the dry and thirsty (Hosea 13:5); and although He was faithful to take care of me, I still felt very alone in the wilderness.

“Jesus Come” has been my headspace. No memory verse. Nothing fancy. Pretty simple. I’ve always been a terrible student when it comes to scripture memorization. I have a wonderful friend who sends me scripture every morning. Y’all, read that again, a text every single morning since the day of Robin’s diagnosis! I have each scripture she has sent me filed, in order, by book of the Bible. I’m also categorizing scripture by the occasion to help people in need like my friend did for me. The point being, I could be wrong, but I think the Lord looks at our effort, our heart, and our ministry to others. How do we serve (don’t get that confused with works)? Where is our walk heading? Do we trust Him solely or is it just conversation for the company we keep? I decided because I had lost so much, that my new life, was all His. I have no idea what that’s going to look like. I don’t even know what that means. I just know my whole life is surrendered to Him.

We’ve all had that experience that seemed almost unworldly. When you left an encounter dumbfounded or with goosebumps (Holy Spirit bumps), saying to no one in particular or your significant other, “ You are never going to believe what just happened! That was so strange!” Both Google and Merriam-Webster define coincidence this way: “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.”

On Friday night I heard running and jumping above my unit, which is very strange because I am on the top floor. So I went next door to the private library and it was quiet. So I investigated further by going outside onto the sky view terrace to see if anyone was up on the observation deck. Let me preface by saying for the month that I have lived in this beautiful building I keep running into this lovely blonde haired woman with two adorable dogs. We live on the same floor, she is always impeccably dressed, and we park in the same area. We always say “Hey” but we’ve never been introduced. So when I walked out onto the terrace? There she was! She also had heard the noise and came outside. It was a gorgeous night and the sun was setting and there is a spectacular view of the golf course so we both stood there and talked. For over two hours. Turns out we both went to the same women’s college in Raleigh for two years and then on to different NC universities. We both buried our parents right before suffering devastating losses with our husbands. We both have daughters. We both are without extended family. We both are devout Christians. We are the same age. She has a chronic illness. She was a stay at home mother. She sold her home on her own, moved here, and is trying to listen to God for her next step. Like me, she is saying “Ok Lord you are all I’ve got —send me where you need me”.

Coincidence? Absolutely not! I am not a theologian nor do I claim to be. I’m just a woman who has believed in God her whole life but didn’t say “I’m all in, Jesus” until my early 30’s. And even then, I was still trying to chase the things of this world, just as every single young family does. It was not until I was 40 that I said, “Ok, Lord, really, like I am exhausted! I want all of you because I know there is something more”. Does that make me an expert? Nope, sure doesn’t. In fact, from the outside looking in, to a non-Christian, my life is riddled with a lot of devastating events. I’m sure anyone on the fence would be saying, “why in the world would I want to believe in a God who allows such horrible things to happen?” My answer to you would be that we live in a fallen world that is overwrought with sin. God allows us to choose. If he chooses for us it would be a dictatorship but he is a loving God. Many times the things we choose are not right for us. Many times the things we allow to stay in our lives will not benefit our growth further down the road. We may not have the vision at the moment but He does. I don’t mean deaths or disease but I do mean the weeding and pruning of relationships. It can be painful and hard. But inevitably if you look back I can almost assure you that you can see why those relationships had no future.

Will my new sky view deck friend become my new best friend? I have no idea. Was it a coincidence? No way. That was God’s affirmation to me that He is with me. He is with you. He is answering her prayers and my prayers with like-minded friends here on earth. We are not alone.

Oh, and all that loud ruckus we both heard that brought us each outside? We asked around and no one else had heard a thing.

Coincidence?

“I will walk by faith even when I can not see”-2 Corinthians 5:7