Unwelcome Titles — Grateful, yet Grieving

We use labels and titles frequently to describe people: my mechanic, my friend, my pastor, my co-worker. We refer to people we love by calling them son, daughter, sister, mother, father, husband, or wife. These titles identify what kind of relationship we have with someone.

What about a title we don’t want to be identified with? How do we adapt to a label we don’t want to have? 

I never considered that I would be referred to as a “widow” when I got married. Filling out a form for the first time, where I checked a box whether I’m married or single, my stomach had a knot. I have wrestled with using the word to identify my current state. The label “widow” carries a heavy weight for me. Part of my wrestling is the response from other people, I imagine that people pity or feel sorry for me. Sadly, I put too much focus on what people think.

The other piece of the puzzle of identifying myself as a widow, stares straight at me from a mirror that I am no longer a wife to my husband. My title as a wife is in the past tense. I was a wife, now I’m not. The sadness is there as well as the reality.

In my wrestling, I’ve come to a place of reconciling myself with the title of “widow.” It's only part of who I am….I’m still a mother, friend, therapist, writer, and child of God. When I googled the word “widow”, I discovered that it is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. Somehow it seems that God places value and mentions them so others will take care to protect them. My former pastor said that God has favorites; orphans and widows.

James 1:27 (NIV) “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Seeing how God values widows opens the door for me to identify myself as a widow. I am seen, valued, protected, and esteemed by God. As I consider and ponder this truth, it begins to overshadow my dislike of the word that labels my status. I am a woman without a husband, a “widow”, but seen, loved, valued, and cherished by God, my Heavenly Father.

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