The final session among the women is a time for each of them to address the pain in their sphere. Lynette assures them that they will get to the joy (next retreat!) but they have to go through the pain first. After each person shares, the whole group will gather round them and pray for them.
Martha begins. “There are so few joys in being a widow.
“I followed my Lord into widowhood kicking and screaming . . . The first time I heard someone call me a widow was when I was staying at a hotel. And someone said, ‘That’s Wesley’s widow.’
“And I thought, ‘Is that who I am?’ And of course I am, but why did that hurt me so bad? Slowly, Wesley was omitted from that and now I’m just a widow.
“But I’m learning to come to terms with widowhood. I say, Lord, if my cup is filled with loneliness and tears, I’ll drink it because you asked me to.
“I used to think widows were old and sad, not too well-groomed and needy somehow. When Wesley died . . . everyone tried to get me a smart financial deal, because I was ‘that old widder woman.’
“Before, I had a sphere as a preacher’s wife. Now I’m a preacher’s widow. That’s high-status stuff, isn’t it? [After Wesley died] his friends were gone, his ministry was gone, even his shop work and his hobbies were gone. I felt like I was bereft not only of him but of everything that surrounded him.
“When I walk into a woodwork shop, those smells and those sounds! Or hearing a certain portion of Scripture preached that he preached on. . . I just love when people still talk about him. I’m so blessed when they still remember him. A gentleman came up to me in Wal-Mart — it was Wesley’s barber. He just expressed to me how he really appreciated Wesley. That blessed me.”
Lynette asks if there’s a lonely time of the day we can pray about.
“I already dread the winter evenings. I’m not crafty — I don’t quilt and stuff. I have ‘reclineritis’ — I’m just not motivated to do anything. And I’m not the chatty kind to get on the telephone, so those are hard times.”
Louella talks about her pain. “I have just this summer started to feel that it is starting to get better, and this weekend has just shot all that down. . . I’m just so grateful that God is there with us and he does grant healing.
“And I have felt so much love and caring from other people — from my own children. My sons miss him every bit as much as I do — they’ve told me. My daughter does, too, but she’s not as free in sharing that.
“One of my most difficult times is being with Leroy’s family, because there sit his four brothers and he’s not there. I want to be with his family, but . . . .
“I realized I needed to stay busy. I had been working at the MCC thrift store, and I stepped it up to two and three days a week . . . At home, I have to keep going to get everything done. [Staying busy makes it possible] to think about other people and other things and not dwell on myself. I’m thankful I’m healthy enough to stay busy.”
Lynette asks the women to think about what God is saying to them through Martha and Louella as they gather around them for a time of blessing.
The women thank God for Martha and Louella’s example of faithfulness; those who have husbands are reminded to be grateful; they pray for protection for these two women; they ask that they would remember this as a time of honoring Wesley and Leroy; they ask for color and cheer to enter their lives during the winter months.
A P.S. from Louella, after the weekend: “I remember the ‘raw grief,’ the times I couldn’t even pray. Those times I’d ask the Holy Spirit to intercede, as I couldn’t even find the words. I felt numb.
“I had recently thought my grief had lessened, was much better. So I was not prepared for this past weekend to be a trigger (the retreat). But, oh my! It opened the floodgates. I felt I wasn’t in control of my emotions at all.”