This past week I’ve been tackling the job of changing all our joint accounts, closing some, reopening others in my own name, reporting Tom’s death to those who need to know and in general, figuring out what my new budget will be and constructing a much simpler management style than Tom liked. He’s the “number” person—I am most definitely not. Nevertheless, I’m dusting off my math skills and plunging in as a matter of necessity. I decided I couldn’t live with ugly green folders stored in dreary brown containers, so that was a matter of great importance. I feel much better about numbers on papers now that they are beautifully arranged in color coordinated pink, blue and purple sparkly folders. Color is therapy.
As I’ve poured through files and papers, I hear Tom’s quips and wisdom regarding money, and sometimes it makes me chuckle. Like, “Money is an excellent servant, but a terrible master.” “If you don’t rule it, it will rule you.” He loved to tell our kids growing up, “It’s true God feeds the sparrow but He doesn’t throw the food into their nests.” In his instructions to me about paying attention to funds he would often add, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” Translation? “Balance the checkbook, know where the money is going, and make it work for you. Don’t eat it.” I think colorful folders rank up there with necessities, like food for the flocks…
I’ve been handed papers to sign all week and on a number of occasions I’ve noticed they state my marital status as “widowed.” Kind of a jolting reality to see it in print. As I was driving home from one appointment where I had to check the “widowed” box, I laughed, remembering the popular recommendation in current grief counseling that widows should refuse to think of themselves as widows. Right. So what box do I mark?! The popular theory is that referring to one’s self as a widow hinders establishing a new identity. Just so you know, I happen to think this is nonsense. I’m widowed—it’s my marital status. I wholly embrace it and I am not afraid that admitting it will somehow warp my sense of identity or keep me in some kind of dark hole! The last thing in the world I want to become is a walking bruise that yelps every time someone mentions the word.
First of all, I am the same person I was when my husband was here, and I have the same identity now that I did a month ago. I did not become a different person the day Tom entered Heaven. One’s identity does not change when one’s spouse dies or when one matures and grows throughout life. I propose to you that a believer’s identity stays exactly the same. I am, above all else, a child of God—and that never changes. It’s the one constant in life that steadies the ship no matter where it sails. What may change throughout my life are the titles that describe what I do, where I live, my marital status, my accomplishments, education or talents that I may be known by.
For instance, one day I may be employed and another I might be retired. One day I am a mommy with baby in tow, and another I am grandma. If I sing solos in my youth, but not in my old age, I am no longer a soloist, but I might be a choir member. Yesterday I had a student ID card—today I carry my senior advantage card. See what I mean? Life is constantly changing the titles by which we are called. And that’s quite normal. The description of “widow” simply identifies my marital status at this moment in my earthly life— it does not have anything to do with who I am. But the baby boomer title? Well now, that’s another story. Once a boomer, always a boomer. (just kidding)
How do I identify myself? I am much more than the titles by which I am called on this earth, the relationships I enjoy or the accomplishments and talents I have developed. These things mean nothing in comparison to who I am in God’s eyes, for I am, above all things, a beloved child of God. Let’s make light of the word “widow” and remember, instead, the descriptions that reveal who we truly are. Repeat after me . . .
1. I am created in His image.
2. I am redeemed,
3. I am His workmanship
4. I am forgiven,
5. I am accepted
6. I am justified, innocent by reason of Christ’s imputed righteousness, clean, washed
7. I am, holy, set apart
8. I am a joint-heir with Christ
9. I am royalty, a daughter of the King
10. I am an eternal soul temporarily living in a mortal body
11. I am the temple of God, united with His Spirit forever, one with Christ
12. I am a citizen of Heaven – a pilgrim on earth
13. I am a victorious conqueror, free from the bondage of sin
14. I am an ambassador of Heaven – I am a light
15. I am known and loved by God
As a closing note . . . I finalized my decision for the wording on Tom’s headstone. I thought of writing, as have others, “beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend,” but the list could go on and on. I think “Beloved of the Lord” would be most fitting for a child of God. But then, I decided Tom isn’t the kind of person who likes titles at all. He’s more the engineer and less the artist. So his headstone just says, “Tom Pryde II, 1951 – 2018.” The rest of the space on the plain bronze plaque is filled with God’s Word, which says, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:26a) Now, just so you know. . . when I’m gone, I’d appreciate it if you would sprinkle some glitter on my headstone and maybe add my grandmother’s famous advice, “Don’t get sick—it’s not good for you.”
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)