Watching Connie Ferguson at her husband’sfuneralbroke my heart. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my husband of only 4 months, imagine the pain she feels of losing her best friend and life partner of 20 years. Death is such a painful experience and before I lost my mom, I couldn’t really relate to anyone who lost another person. I couldn’t understand that grief and pain. I couldn’t fathom the emptiness and now I see and feel it all around me, almost on a daily basis.
It’s painful to read, report or hear of someone dying, it’s heart-shattering. When someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. There is constant emptiness, a dark and hollow feeling. You can never shake it and you live with it all your life. It rocks you to your core and breaks every resolve you’ve ever had. Then you have to rebuild. You need to start again.
Something that is beautiful though is love, love makes the memories that you carry worth all the pain that you feel. Memories and the feelings associated with that person, makes it bearable.
What this death has reminded me of, is that we run out of time.
We do not live forever.
The time that we have on this earth is more than precious, it is sacred.
The people we have in our lives, the ones we love and cherish and adore, are the ones that deserve all that we have to offer.
We cannot afford to be selfish and arrogant. We can’t live in a way where anger and hatred dominate our lives.
Say ‘I love you’ as often as you can and mean it.
Enjoy every minute you can breathe.
Laugh as much as possible and love even more.
Create art and enjoy it too.
Live each moment as if it’s your last. It might sound like a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Earlier today: It’s Saturday afternoon, the house is quiet, the wind is howling outside, keeping the sun company. It seems like a good time to reflect on the last year.
I’m braiding my hair and thinking about this time of year. Last year (2020) we lost our mother. It was a Friday and she died in a car on her way to the clinic, my then boyfriend (now husband) right next to her. A shift happened then and a shift is happening now. My husband, sick with Covid-19 and myself, also sick but I haven’t tested for Covid-19 at the time of this post but we’re treating the situation as if I am sick with Covid too. Though I feel strong enough to clean the house and make sure we have something to eat, I still don’t really feel like myself.
All these health issues have done a very good job of distracting me from what day it is. The day my mother died. I’m not feeling incredibly sad or melancholic when I think about it; I feel a sense of peace, maybe even gratitude, that we as a family have been able to make it through the last 12 months in one piece and then some. We had an addition to the family with my niece, we had a wedding and we had the birth of our company. Those are quite huge life milestones. It just goes to show that life really does go on after the death of a loved one, at least if you let it.
Still in the quiet of the house, I wonder to myself, why is it that these shifts or life-changing events seemed to have happened around the same time for the past 2 years and I can’t help but wonder will something else happen next year around this time? I also don’t really want to question why these things are happening and happening in the way they are and around the time they are. I understand that no one truly knows the inner workings of time so I simply want to breath and say, “Thank you Lord” .
Something that has really stood out for me during this time of isolation over the past several days, is the kindness of people; everyone we care about checking in on us and bringing us food. That especially has reminded me of the week when my mother died; everyone brought us food and groceries so that we didn’t still have to worry about that. I’m really grateful to all the people who have come through for us during this time.
With that said, I’d like to share 12 things I’ve learned in the last 12 months since my mother died.
It’s okay not to feel in control.
You can cry whenever and wherever you need to.
Change will always come, don’t fight it.
Nothing ever goes the way we expect or plan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared.
It’s okay to feel the ‘bad’ feelings; fear, sadness, anger, frustration ect.
You won’t always succeed at everything you take on and that’s okay.
You are allowed to want to be alone.
Grief throws you into an unending spiral of self-confrontation.
Cooking or baking is therapeutic.
Love is all there is. It will get you through your darkest nights and brightest days.
Don’t waste the time you have. You won’t get a refund.
God’s love is sacrifice. The most obvious and clear example of that sacrificial love is God giving His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus was God’s ultimate sacrifice, and still today Jesus continues to be a sacrifice for us because He continues to take our sins upon himself. That is how much Jesus loves us. He thinks of us first before he considers himself.
In Philippians 2 vs 3 Paul says the following:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”
I love this verse because it makes things clear; don’t do anything out of selfish desires and humble yourself by thinking of others more important or significant than yourself.
Think of others first. Put others first. Don’t be selfish or do anything out of selfish motives.
That is how God loves us, and that is how we should love one another.
Marriage and love is putting another person’s needs before your own.
“One reason so many couples turn in their rings (get divorced) is because they view marriage as a contract. A contract is a conditional agreement between two or more persons signifying that all parties will do something. Contracts get made for limited periods of time and are based on “if, then” statements. “If they do this, then I’ll do that” People enter into contracts because of what they’ll get out of them.”
MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT
What I’ve learned over the past 2 months of being married is that marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant. The same covenant you enter into when you choose God as your Lord and saviour is the same covenant you enter into when you choose your partner for life. We say vows when we get married and we say them before God.
The author of the plan says:
“A covenant is a divinely created bond meaning it is permanent. It has rules, responsibilities and benefits. Covenants are intimate relationships initiated for the benefit of the other person. In it, the good of the relationship takes precedence over the needs of the individual. This is why covenants make unconditional promises. Basically, it’s where God makes something official in the spiritual realm to be lived out in the physical world. After all, the wedding vows are made “before God” and therefore with God as well as the spouse. To break the covenant with your spouse is to break it with God. “
When you and your spouse are both going into the marriage with the mindset of “I will put you first” both of you will benefit. Marriage cannot and should not be a selfish act.
I love my husband, knowing and understanding that he is God’s child. I love him in a way that’s not suffocating but that gives him the freedom to grow as a man, husband, and father, in all areas of his life. Wanting him to succeed is one of the many reasons I pray for him all the time, more than I do for myself. I truly want to make him happy. I know he wants the same for me. The reason I know this is because we talk about it all the time. Both of us want to make the other happy and that makes us happy and brings us joy. I know when Jared is happy, I feel happy, and I know it’s the same for him.
Jared’s love for me is sacrificial because he always puts my needs before his own, but as his wife, I also need to understand when I have to give more than I take, and that can make all the difference in a marriage.
GOD IS LOVE.
To close, I want to remind you that love is from God. God is love. Loving God means loving people. Loving and accepting your spouse means loving and accepting Jesus.
Let God’s love be the anchor which holds your marriage down.
As I’m writing this, my husband and myself have only been married for a month and a half. I know many people will probably read this post and think, what does she know but you’d be surprised what you can learn in a short space of time when you pay attention. The following post below is what God has put in my spirit during this month and a half that I’ve been married and has helped me understand what it means to have a kingdom marriage. I hope it speaks to you in some way too.
FIGHTING AND ARGUING IS INEVITABLE IN A MARRIAGE
Arguing, fighting and having disagreements don’t suddenly disappear when you get married. In fact, it might even increase. Something I’ve learned during this short time that I’ve been married is that prayer is powerful. You can pray through your problems, When your marriage is centered around Christ, He can help you through the difficult and uncomfortable times.
When you get married, the dynamics of your relationship changes. You feel it the moment you say your vows. There is a shift and you realise that the level of commitment has changed. You always need to remember the vows you took before God when you got married. I know I always do.
Marriage is from God and when you realise that, you know and understand how important it is.
Something else that is vitally important to the life of your marriage is communication. You cannot disregard your spouse’s feelings in your marriage. You need to talk about it and find out why they are feeling the way they do. Communication is everything. I don’t believe the silent treatment works in a marriage. In fact, it could build up a wall in your home that will eventually be impossible to get over.
Seek God’s wisdom and guidance in your marriage. Refer to scriptures and pray with your spouse.
The world and social media shows us that you can get married and divorced on a whim but imagine if God married and divorced you on a whim? How would you feel if God just left you because He no longer felt like being in this relationship with you? Because that is what we have with God once we accept Him into our lives. We enter into a marriage with Him. A covenant. A relationship.
PURSUING A KINGDOM MARRIAGE
Through discussions, Jared and I realised that we want a Kingdom marriage. A definition shared by Dr. Tony Evans describes a Kingdom marriage as follows:
“a covenantal union between a man and a woman who commit themselves to function in unison under divine authority in order to replicate God’s image and expand His rule in the world through both their individual and joint callings”
So basically, you come together as a couple and you vow to expand God’s kingdom through what He has called you to do. You work on replicating the image of God in and through the world.
You are setting an example and a precedent for your children and all your future generations when you decide to enter into a marriage. It doesn’t matter if you come from a background where marriages didn’t work out, what matters is what you do going forward.
YOUR ROLE AS A WIFE AND MOTHER
As a woman, mother and wife, you have a God-given power to pray your family to prosperity. You have a gift to carry your family through trying and troubling times. As women, we sometimes forget how dear we are to God’s heart.
God made Eve for Adam because He saw that Adam needed someone. God saw that Adam needed strength and help and encouragement that only a woman can provide. You might be asking yourself; but why should I do all the work? Why should I be the one to create a space for my husband and children to grow and succeed?
The reason for that is because God gave you that power. God gave you that responsibility. Your family draws strength from you. Your nurturing spirit and your unlimited love and your ability to comfort. They draw from your determination to always do more and be more and to succeed.
As you draw strength from God, your family draws from you and by doing that, your family draws closer to God because they see how you pray and how you carry yourself and because you make God the centre of all that you love and cherish.
You will grow into your role, whatever that may be. You will never be a perfect woman, mother or wife but you can be a good one.
We are all in different seasons of our lives. It might not be the season you want to be in but right now, it is your season.
It’s the one you need.
Winter doesn’t shy away after the warm months have gone when it’s her turn to wrap us in a cold cocoon.
Autumn doesn’t become sad when the leaves turn from green to yellow to brown.
Spring patiently waits her turn to release her cherry blossoms after months of being in hiding.
This is your time to grow, to plant seeds for the next season.
To sow and to harvest.
You cannot skip it or avoid it.
You can’t get to the next season without getting through your current season.
There is a time for everything.
You cannot watch others bloom when it is their time and be upset because the same thing is not happening to you at that very moment.
Nothing in nature works that way; no flower keeps watch over another flower.
It simply blooms.
When its time has come, its petals fall to the ground and it does so with grace and elegance.
Its petals do not force their way back onto the stem.
Bloom when it is your time.
A flower grows where it is planted, where it is born, between weeds or between concrete.
It makes its surroundings beautiful.
Make your surroundings beautiful.
You have a purpose now, right where you are. No matter the season.
Whether your current season is five days, ten weeks, or 15 years, you need to submit and commit yourself to it.
If you believe God placed you here, know that it was with a purpose in mind.
Everything happens for a reason.
The hard part is being patient.
Kimberly is a writer, blogger and poet. She is married to musician Jared Fray and they live in Johannesburg, South Africa with their two children. Kimberly has had several of her poems published in poetry journals and also works as a news producer.