By Debbie Wilkins

“Don’t make me a single mom. You know I couldn’t handle it.”

This was the phrase I always told my husband Aaron before he’d go on camping excursions. These words now ring eerily in my mind. Because I am now a single mom.

My husband of 11 years, the father of our 4 sons, died tragically this past August. I still shake my head in disbelief every time I say, think, or write that. In an instant, my worst fear became my reality. An unchangeable reality. I am a widow and our children (ages 9, 7, and 5 year old twins) are fatherless. How is this possible?!

I wonder if you are in a “valley” right now. You cannot believe you are facing such a brutal trial. You are unable to handle this. You know what? You’re right. You can’t. You’re crushed, persecuted, abandoned, lonely, suffering. I think, no, I KNOW, that this is too much for you. Much like my husband’s passing, it is too heavy a burden to bear.

At the crossroads of Despair and Hope, turn towards Hope. Not self-created hope. You’re weary and empty. Hope comes from The Source of love and life. The reason I am able to take one step after the other is a Guy named Jesus. As my Maker, He knows exactly what I need. He’s GOT THIS. So I surrender. “Okay, God, You’re in charge. It’s Your planet, Your rules.” Grief is not easy. Pain is unyielding. But the Lord wants to love you lavishly and carry you through your trials. He is capable. All you have to do is ask.

What are some practical ways to cope without falling off the deep end?

• Paper. Draw or journal your thoughts to clear your head.
• Pray. Tell God your fears, your worries, your frustrations.
• Pout. But only for a limited time.
• Praise. Focus on what is GOOD in your life and thank the Lord.
• Play. Take time for yourself to do what distracts you from hardship.
• Participate. Don’t alienate yourself from others…you’ll end up crazy.

When I stop and ponder a future that is now unpredictable, or when I look at my childrens’ faces and wonder how deep their pain runs, I focus on what is constant and predictable. My Savior is always with me and for me, He is unchanging, He has a plan to give me a hope and a future. And that is the truth for YOU as well!