Prior to my fiancé Greg’s accident in March 2010, my walk with Christ included daily quiet time and prayer, weekly women’s bible study, weekly young adult’s small group, weekly church service, and I served in ministry as a greeter, prayer team member and as intern in our church in women’s ministry.
My walk with Christ looks a lot different now. I feel so convicted about it because I know my walk should resemble how I lived prior to Greg’s accident because that’s what scripture teaches. However, a friend of many years shared with me that while she sees how and why I am convicted and why I feel guilty for how my walk with Christ looks now, God also gives us seasons of life, including spiritual seasons of life. And right now, the season that I am in spiritually as a widow is one of less community and more outside-of-the-church work.
And you know what? That’s ok.
One day, my spiritual season of life will look similar to how it once did, but also different too, in that I will bring to this new season new lessons that have been incorporated into my spiritual life as well as a new ministry and avenue of service to others.
What Faith Means To Me
For me, Faith is about believing God is who He says He is, that Jesus Christ is the Lord and died on the cross for our sins, and that one day we will be in Heaven. Faith is about having a personal relationship with Christ and faith is about BELIEVING God can and will do what He says He will do, in His perfect timing. Faith is about believing without seeing.
Faith is about trusting Christ in the good times and the dark times, in the times where life, circumstances and events make sense. Faith is about standing firm on the foundation of Christ when life doesn’t make sense, when things happen that we do not understand and probably never will in this lifetime. Faith is about holding on to Hope in this dark world with the knowledge that we are not of this world and that we belong in Heaven one day with Christ. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 2:25).
My personal walk and relationship with Christ means more to me than anything. Even though I struggle and feel discouraged at times, I make it a point to have daily quiet time with the Lord, through prayer, worship through music, studying Scripture and meditating on His Word.
I struggle daily with my personal walk with Jesus, but I try to be a light in this world to those who are hurting and struggling. I try to be an encouragement and a witness to those who are lost and struggling with their faith. I know that the Lord has placed on my heart a desire to minister to women who are hurting and that He had me go through certain things in my life in order to be an example and to better witness to these women.
No one said being a Christian is easy, but I try not to let that deter me from the path and mission that the Lord has placed before me.
I believe in a faithful and loving God who gave His own life for me, for my sins. He suffered the cross and the pain, so that I may be free and so that one day because I have repented my sins, confessed with my lips that He is Christ, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me and because I have a personal relationship with Him, I have hope. “Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
Why I Chose to Embrace my Grief Journey
I feel like since Greg’s accident everyone has been watching me to see my response, to see if I lost my faith. And when they saw my deep emotional response, some saw that as a lack of faith.
They think that my response, my natural response, my grief or my grieving as a lack of faith. When it isn’t. They don’t realize the extent/ depth of the grief of widow/er hood.
I don’t expect people who are not widowed to understand what it is like to grieve the loss of your spouse and the secondary losses that go with losing your beloved. But I do wish people would try to be more understanding about a person’s faith while going through such a life altering loss and be less judgmental.
Early on in my journey as a widow, I made one decision. While I didn’t choose for Greg’s accident to happen, I did choose how I was going to respond. Was I going to just run away from it and plaster some fake smile on my face and act like everything is all fine and dandy, when in reality I’m dying on the inside? Or was I going to somehow embrace my grief and be honest about it?
Instead of running away from my grief, my pain, anger, sadness, and filling my days by constantly avoiding those things or turning to alcohol or drugs to further “numb” myself, I chose to embrace my grief, the grieving process and this journey of widowhood. I choose to embrace the deep depths of the darkness, to embrace the intense and often unbearable pain, to embrace the brokenness of my heart and soul and the seeds of sadness.
I embrace all of those things knowing that my Jesus is with me each step of the way and I know that He walks beside me, often carries me and holds me in the palm of His hand. And I know that He always will. He will never let go. “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Being honest about what I am going through and how I am functioning has always been important to me. I’m not going to sit here and lie and sugar coat all the stuff that my body and mind has gone through. I guess the effect Greg’s accident had on me, scared people and they couldn’t handle it. It still scares me. I have difficulty handing it all myself and I have to live with it.
I didn’t make a choice in how my grief looks or what my symptoms of grief are or how Greg’s accident totally turned every aspect of me upside down (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually). No one chooses how their body reacts.
My body just shut down entirely and I am still dealing with trying to function on a daily basis. It just comes natural, my body’s natural response. I didn’t ask for all the physical side effect s and ailments, lack of sleep and eventual insomnia, total body shut down, eventual social anxiety, etc. I didn’t choose how my body responded; my only choice was to embrace it and go with it.
I still can’t explain or come close to putting into words, the “fullness” of embracing grief and what that means to “embrace grief” in its entirety. Anything that comes close that I could put into words is to say that for me it’s been “going with my grief” accepting the things that grief brings me (physical, emotional, mental aspects), “going into the grief” and the darkness and intense deep pain and sadness and brokenness. I do this all along with the knowledge of knowing that my sweet Jesus is with me along the way. He will carry me. I have gone into the intense depths of darkness, knowing that God is with me.
As far as I am concerned, this deep grief is not a lack of faith.
I find and place my hope in the knowledge that one day it will be my turn to be in Heaven with Christ for Eternity and reunited with my beloved Greg. That’s what keeps me going every day. It won’t always be this way. One day there will be NO MORE PAIN, NO MORE TEARS, NO MORE SUFFERING, and NO MORE SADDNESS. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Praise God! What a joyful day that will be. I long for that day.
Hope for a New Day
Even though this is a difficult journey, to say the least, I have never once renounced my faith in Christ, nor turned my back on Him; and He will never let go of me. I may never understand why God decided to take Greg home so soon, at such a young age and right when we were starting our life together; but one thing I do know GOD IS WITH ME EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. And I have faith that as Greg always encouraged me with, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
In a recent sermon, my pastor said that God allows crises to happen for two reasons.
1. You are far from God and He wants to draw you near to Him (Like the Noble man)
2. You are near to God and He wants to use you as a picture of true faith so that others may be drawn to him (what real faith looks like in the midst of darkness)
What I think people fail to realize is that it is not immediate but something that happens over time.
I know that I made the choice to accept my grief and style of grieving and to walk with Christ and go into the darkness knowing that Christ is with me and will carry me when I can’t breathe, or stand on my own two feet. As Greg would encourage me with, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Brandi Reyna 2011