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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Let the Beatings Begin

Today we drove back form Dallas to San Antonio. As I drove down the highway, I felt as if I was on my way to turn myself in, for I knew what awaited me at out house. Since Andrea died I have been planning events, the last of which was to go visit Andrea’s family in Wichita Falls and my sister’s family in Dallas. Now I have no other distractions. Maybe that is not a good word but you know what I mean. It was time for me to go home and begin my life alone.

I was on my way to surrender to the pain and grief that awaited me. It is my punishment for loving so deeply. In a way I’m glad it is going to hurt this bad, it speaks of the love I had for Andrea. I owe it to Andrea to hurt. I feel as if I was coming home for a beating. I was going to walk in and be escorted into my room where I would be beat. I accept this pain but I don’t want it.

I came home and unloaded the car and left for a three hour walk. Anything to delay what was in that house. Later I found myself wandering the house, unwilling to stop, knowing if I did the beating would begin. After talking to a friend I realized it was time to begin this process. I had to face it with the same strength Andrea faced her beating.

We were welcomed home by the flowers left after the funeral and a priority box containing the insurance paperwork I needed to fill out. Let the beatings begin. This is life after a death. This is what I mean when I say life does not stop to allow you to gather yourself or get things in order. So you can neatly finish your grief then hit the play button. There is no TiVo in life. So the emptiness of the house and my room is only magnified by the silence. I have the Will to take care of clothes and personal items to handle. I walked in the closet and there was her purse hanging on the wall, her ID card half out from when she checked in the ER, the money she had and a receipt from shopping. Her life is all over this house, but she is no where to be found. This is what hurts about losing someone, and like I have said when you lose a spouse you realize the person you turn is gone.

I have no idea how long these beatings will last. Not long I hope. I have talked to other widowers and they all say, you will just know. I'm not talking about forgetting Andrea, that will not happen. I'm talking about just being able to live a somewhat "normal" life. What ever the heck that means. To be honest I don't even know what the end state looks like so I can know when to say, "I'm done with the beatings." I just don't know what I don't know. This is my first time at this. I'm just waiting to see what happens and praying He will soften the blows.

Many of you may be in the midst of your own form of beating. If so I offer all I can, a prayer for your strength and a hope that these words somehow help you in your walk.

My legs shake and my head hurts but this must be done. It will not be done by my strength and no one can take my place this is mine and mine alone. There is no way to avoid this pain, and to deny it or put it off would only delay my recovery. The only way to the other side is to go through the storm. I don’t want this, I did not ask for this pain. I never prayed to be a widower. My boys are supposed to have a mother they can come to for advice. I did not seek this pain or this fight but it has come to me and I can’t run away. Grief will have its way with me, but only for time, for God has defeated death, which I must remember. And God is faithful to His children. He has not left me as I await my beating. He hurts for me, yet He waits to receive me on the other side a stronger believer. He is preparing me to be used to help someone else in the future as they face their beating just as others are now helping me. My circle of friends I talk to are mostly new to me, fellow widowers. Strange how they seem to have been all around me I just never knew it. They come to me as the new member and they help me with there words of hope spoken with regret that someone awaits a beating. Anyone who has been here relives their own pain as they support someone new being added to the flock. There is great love expressed in the willingness to go back into the valley to help someone.

This next topic I have wrote about before but I want to again because it is where I am right now. I need to hear these words so you get to read them again. Put yourself in this moment. Jesus has been taken; you as a disciple have left Him fearing for your own safety. Days before you were by His side as the crowds cheered Him, now in His time of need you have fled. We enter the scene outside the house where Jesus is being accused. The chief priests are in a frenzy to finally end this nuisance called Jesus. The anger is reaching a feverous pitch when we look outside and see a curious crowd of people huddled around a fire, trying to stay warm on a cold night. It is late, Jesus is being tired, He has been taken from the disciples and they have scattered fearing for their own lives. Jesus is before the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law. He is being falsely accused in hope they can sign His death warrant once and for all.

Outside in the crowd we see a once bold disciple, cowering near the fire for warmth, yet trying to stay unnoticed. It is Peter. Earlier he swore he would die for Jesus now he hides yet he feels a love a need to find out what is happening to the man he swore to defend. Once so full of pride in his own strength he now tries to hide in the crowd.

His worst fear occurs; he is recognized twice by a servant girl. He has easily fends off her accusations with the same boldness that earlier he used to defend his savior. Finally those around Peter see his face in the glow of the fire that he has been using to warm himself. They recognize Peter as a disciple. Peter now fears the crowd will turn on him. He wants to stay, he considers running but that would only indicate guilt and since he has worked himself to the front trying to hear first hand what is happening he has little chance of escaping. He feels trapped; his only defense is to lash back at them. He swears to them in defense, he does not know this man. He hopes the forcefulness of his words will quell their suspicions and put to rest any question in their mind.

It was at this moment that the cock crows just as Jesus had predicted. In that moment Peter is taken from the present to the past. To the moment Jesus predicted this event. The once openly bold disciple, so defiant, so strong still hears his own words hanging in the air, “I do not know this man!” In his defiance he has secured his own safety but it has cost him. He has failed his Lord only hours after his proclamation before his peers. His is ashamed and embarrassed in himself.

Mark 14: 71-72 He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, "I don't know this man you're talking about." Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times." And he broke down and wept.

I like the detail given in the gospel in Luke 22:60-62 Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Like I wrote before it was this verse, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” He turned, meaning he was not even facing Peter, yet he was aware of what was going on. Jesus was inside and Peter was in the courtyard yet he was aware of what was happening outside. I think of the look. What did Jesus communicate to Peter in that look? Was it disappointment in Peter? Was Jesus angry at Peter for failing for not standing up with him when just before he professes his willingness to die for Jesus? No, not to me. Jesus was not disappointed in Peter because He knew what lay ahead for Peter. Jesus knew Peter's boldness would return and out of this failure would come the rock. I don't think he was angry either because Jesus understood what it meant to be human. Here is what I think Jesus felt. Keep in mind this is just my opinion. He felt sorry Peter had to hurt, He felt Peter's own pain and it hurt Jesus as well, the only difference is Jesus knew the future and I think He wished he could tell Peter all He knew, but he could not. Peter had to suffer for a while and Jesus knew it. And that was the hurt and the hope Peter saw in Jesus' eyes. Peter cried because he failed in his humanness not because Jesus condemned Him. Here is what I hear Jesus say in that look.

“Peter, I know you feel defeated right now. I know you are embarrassed to even have me see you in your weakness. I know you have just failed its okay I told you it would happen. You are not alone even though you feel that way, I’m with you Peter. I feel your pain and I’m sorry you have to suffer but I will use your pain for my glory. Trust me. I am with you in the loneliness you will feel over the next days. Yes you will hurt and feel regret but in a few days you will be the man you professed to be. I will meet you on the other side of your pain and my death, and we will do great things together.”

Tonight I need to look into Jesus’ eyes and hear him tell me that. He sees my pain right now and He knows I do not want to be beaten yet on the other side He has a plan for me. He awaits me with a blessing. He is telling us all that. No matter what pain you feel right now, even if you feel it is small in comparison to me losing a spouse, it is pain to you and it is real. Trust me God does not answer suffering or prayers based on a degree of difficulty. He only asks for a humble heart that seeks Him, a heart willing to learn in suffering. No matter the degree of pain it still takes faith to trust when life hurts.

I need to look into His eyes and feel His love for me, knowing He is with me, even if He has to turn to see me. He is there, He is aware; He knows what I’m dealing with. He knew it long ago; His has been preparing me for this moment. His love expressed by Andrea’s suffering has prepared me for my beating. And I know with this beating He will create in me the ability to serve Him in ways I can not right now. Though not desired I will endure, by His strength. And when I turn out these lights and face my beating I see in my mind, Christ turning and looking straight at me and in His eyes I hear Him say,

“Jim it will be okay, you will be just fine. I’m with you. I love you, I feel your hurt, honest I do. I would take it away if I knew you would be better to have not suffered but I can not say that. I’m sorry. Remember Andrea and be strong. I will see you on the other side where we will do great things together.”

I’m reminded of this promise in John 16:19-22 In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

I look forward to a joy that can not be taken away! I look forward to what God has planned for me. As bad as this beating is going to be, and as bad as the beating Andrea endured for over four years, it must be a great joy. I hope I get to receive some of that reward in this lifetime. That would be icing on the cake, and my God is a good baker.
Let the beatings begin.


  1. The beatings are tough, but God is tougher. I've lost a mother to cancer and a wife to mental illness. I too am a single parent and I accept my role, although it is a big responsibility. I can tell your faith is strong and the peace of the Lord will be with you always.