Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Only Human

When I was in the research phase of writing my book, I had contacted and communicated with over 100 WOWs (Wives Of Widowers). In order to find a common thread among all of us, I posed questions to each of them regarding what issues they had dealt with as a WOW. Oddly enough, the results of this survey often prompted me to reassure these women by uttering a quasi-patronizing, “That’s OK. It’s only human”.

It’s only human to feel threatened by a ghost who will always reside in your husband’s heart.

It’s only human to feel anxiety on the anniversary date of the late wife’s death.

It’s only human to wonder if your husband will ever love you the way he loved his late wife.

“It’s OK. I’m only human”. That’s partially true. I AM human. And because of this indisputable fact, it only follows that my feelings are human, too. But is it “OK” to have these feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and fear?

In a word…no!

I had used this same statement of affirmation on myself when I first married my previously widowed husband. When the old “Insecurity Monster” reared its ugly head and forced me to react negatively or to feel threatened by the late wife’s memory and eerie presence in my marriage, I repeated over and over, “What I am feeling is normal…because I’m only human, after all”. In other words, I excused myself, and by doing so, I had glossed over my fears and allowed them to be pushed aside for the time being. I had not only used this lame excuse to feel better about my negative emotions, but I had also used it to avoid finding a solution to my problematic fears as well.

Why? What was the payoff for my hanging onto my insecurities? Did they benefit my marriage? Did they change the past? Did they make me stronger? Of course not. Negative emotions of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt are NOT of God. They are Satan’s tools, and he knows how to operate them put a wedge in your faith and to try to separate what God has joined together.

Yes, all emotions are human emotions. After all, Jesus was a human, and felt the negative emotion of fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, the big difference between what is human and what is divine was demonstrated by how Jesus handled His anxiety. He went straight to His Father in heaven and asked for strength. He did not stuff his negative emotions into his pocket. Rather, he focused on a solution. And by doing so, He illustrated that that is what He wants us to do, too.

It is easy to do or feel what comes naturally…to do or feel what is human. But Christ calls us to do what is spiritual…and divine. He wants us to come unto Him, release our burdens, then be still and know that He will deliver. In Psalm 56:3, the Lord speaks through the psalmist and reminds us of this: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You”. God wants us to trust our faith and not our humanness.

It would be arrogant for me, either as advice for my fellow WOWs or even for myself, to ever utter the phrase “It’s OK…I’m only human!” ever again, as if what is human supercedes what is Spirit-directed. My humanity does not solve the problems of fear, anxiety, or insecurity. Most of the time, my humanness only serves to exacerbate my problems.

Of course my human feelings and those of my sister HOWs and WOWs are real and worthy of mention, perhaps even validation. But when we rely on ourselves - on our humanness - to excuse away our negative feelings, we stop putting our trust in God, and the result is a separation from the only One who can comfort, love, and strengthen us out of the darkness of our negative humanity - and get us back to the business of Loving A Widower....


(Copyright 2009 Julie Donner Andersen. All rights reserved. No reprints without author permission.)

2 comments:

  1. Hi Julie,
    I stumbled on this blog after doing some Google searching. I am finding it very interesting to finally find someone writing about this topic, because I am in a similiar situation. The difference though is that I am a gay man who has been involved since last year with a wonderful man, and this man lost his partner of 10 years due to illness.

    It's a big source of anxiety for me, because I compare myself to Robert (his partner) and wonder if I 'measure up'. We are moving in together in October, and I desperately want to move past these issues. I feel so sorry for him, and the story of Robert's death breaks my heart. He doesn't bring it up though, he's very secure and I truly believe his grieving is in his past. But at the same time, I am curious and ask questions which he he doesn't mind answering.

    I wonder if he could ever love me as much, but he constantly assures me that I'm his priority now and that Robert is all in the past. Such a tragedy though, and I find my going over and over the story in my head. I need to make better peace with it somehow.

    Reading your blog has been helpful to me, even though it is geared towards women in hetero relationships. Thanks for listening

    -John

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  2. Hi John,

    Thank you for writing. I welcome you to join my website's message board at juliedonnerandersen.com. You're right - my book, blog, and board are geared towards hetero relationships, but there is room for you and all other gay men and women who need the comfort and support since, like you said, our situations are very similar. :)

    God bless....JDA

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