Over the course of the past week, God has really provided ample opportunities in which I chose to pout. My feelings hurt repeatedly by people I like, I have reacted both emotionally and prayerfully. I am well aware of my need for Him to “set a guard over my mouth” (Psalm 141:3) before I let situations escalate. My tongue gets me in plenty of trouble, so I ask God to help me to be more understanding and compassionate and kind, and all of those other warm and fuzzy words.

I’m guilty of saying some pretty stupid things, and for those that are still friends with me, I pre-apologize for future idiotic lapses in judgment. Don’t we so easily speak first and think second? How often do we pause and pray before opening our mouths? Do we consider our audience before articulating what’s on our minds? 

In the current culture of everyone being offended, let me just vent for a second.

I became involuntarily single four years ago when my husband passed away (yes, this sentence is a punch to the gut). As a widow, there is quite a sting when I hear someone declare that they are a “golfing widow” or “hunting widow.”  When a friend complains that she is a “single mom” because her husband works long hours, or an acquaintance laments that she can relate to me because her spouse is in the military. Shoot, even divorced people have tried to commiserate that they “get it” because they are unmarried.

Golfing and hunting widows, I know you miss your man.

Wives of hard workers, I know the minutes pass like hours.

Military wives, I know you wish he was home.

Divorced ladies, I know your happily ever after did not happen.

We are not members of the same club. I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings, truly (I’m really working on this filtering-my-thoughts thing). But we are not. Your “club” is no less painful, but it is not the same.

Because for widows, there was no choice. No decision. No weighing of options, pursuing a passion, or drawing a conclusion. And while all of these other situations and circumstances possess so much pain and hardship that cannot be measured, our valleys are not the same. I don’t say this to diminish what you feel, but rather to shed light on how our words (mine included) can bring healing or harm.

If you know a widow, remember that her husband is missed every season of the year. 

If you know a widow, remember that she’s always taking care of the kids without help on the horizon. 

If you know a widow, remember that her fairytale future imploded. 

If you know a widow, remember that her husband is never ever ever coming home.

The only countdown is to heaven. 

She misses the man of her dreams and would pay any price for a five-minute conversation at midnight.

Be there for her. Be there with her. Let her talk, cry, and scream. Sit in silence together. Hug her tightly. Pray together. 

And pause. Be grateful for whatever amount of time you’ve been gifted, knowing that life can turn heels-over-head unexpectedly when a loved one is taken from us.

May the Lord continue to help me, and you, to guard our lips, always seeking to put the other before ourselves.

Debbie Wilkins Baisden

Debbie is a mom to 4 boys (Paul, Brad, Andrew, and Joshua, or “PBAndJ” for short). Unexpectedly widowed in 2012, Debbie’s world was turned upside down. Clinging to God, her stay-at-home mom days in suburbia now demanded a paying job. Instead of returning to the classroom, she decided that Chapter 2 of life meant pursuing her passion of all things fitness and nutrition. She enjoys helping women look and feel their best. Debbie remarried in 2014 and lives in North Carolina.