You are about to read a confession from the self proclaimed #BestWidowEver. It’s not an easy confession for me to make, but I must. A confession which gives you, the reader a glimpse into my glorious grief. Today, I’m airing some dirty laundry in hopes that I continue to pursue the best version of who I am as a daughter, mom, friend and #BestWidowEver. Today, I confess to the world that I have not made my bed or changed my sheets in over three months.
Shocked? It’s understandable, it’s even justifiable if you knew the oversight directly correlates with the amount of time my husband has stopped sleeping with me in between the sheets. Mr. Bradley died on March 17, 2016 at 12:42 in the afternoon. Learning to sleep and live without him has presented a few challenges that pale in comparison to an unmade bed or dirty sheets.
To be honest, I prefer my dirty laundry stay at the bottom of my private hamper. Isn’t that where dirty laundry belongs until we have exhausted all other resources? Sharing this part of my life with you is risky. I must acknowledge my unlaundered, unhygienic, unsanitary, unsightly, untidy, unwashed, disheveled reality. With you. Right now. On this my first blog post ever.
A few days ago a trusted friend asked the question I’ve always struggled to answer, even more so right now. You know that question everybody cringes to answer when experiencing heartache or pain. You know, that one, the “how are you” question. How do I respond? (On a side note, I googled this question and an awesome resource popped up which has helped tremendously I’m sharing the link here 100 Ways To Answer The Question Here.) In this circumstance, I chose to respond with the truth sorted through my imaginary laundry mat of emotions. This is exactly how I was doing. I cried-fessing. I could feel my friend doing a mental sort of my emotional laundry. This friend was intently listening with her heart and eyes. This friend also made me an offer I could not refuse, but more on the offer later…
I have slept next to the same man for the last 19 years of my life. The bed was significant and symbolic in so many ways. The one that holds great value and most importance at this time is the privilege of being the wife of a man who cultivated safety. I felt safest next to him in-between the sheets.
I was reminded of a time I had a pressing issue to deal with on the teenager front. I was pleading with God on a specific decision I had to make. The weight was more than I could bear. I thought I would make it easy on God and requested a simple yes or no answer from him. Easy right? Not so. The answer he gave me was this, “Be a safe place.”
Be a safe place for your children. Your teenager needs you to know you are safe. This was the answer to all questions up to that point in my parenting. I embraced this realization and intentionally started cultivating myself as a safe place for my spouse, family and friends. The fruit of this effort was immediate. I saw an increase in my own ability to be vulnerable. I will start with this answer in mind. I ask my children and myself how I can be a safe person for them in their current situation or with their current request.
Back to the offer. My friend offered to do for me what I could not do for my self. She offered 4 things that were life giving for me. First, she offered herself by listening and being a safe place for me to share my current struggle. Then, she offered to give me a gift, the gift of new sheets. She went shopping for sheets, sent me text messages throughout the day asking me about color preferences and styles. Third, she offered to make my bed for me. By herself or with me. But most importantly, she offered to wait until I was ready to make the necessary change.
Being a widow has some obvious perks, I know it’s a stretch for some of us to think this way, but I would consider this one of the perks. Friends, family and sometimes perfect strangers lavishing copious amounts of understanding and patience with my hurts, habits and hangups. The necessary changes that fuel all that needs to happen to be a better version of myself.
Insert eternal significance here. Two things about her offer and Jesus. From scripture I know Jesus to continually cultivate safe encounters with people who confess hurts, habits and hangups. I also think about the eternal significance of my heavenly fathers choice to do for me what I could not do for myself by sending his son Jesus to be the bridge that leads me to eternal life with God. (Eternal Salvation Help Here)
Now, I will leave you with some life giving words, words that on occasion are used for consequences to poor choices but not today! Today, I will claim them as words of victory. They will hold victorious significance and will remind me forever of my journey as the self proclaimed #BestWidowEver today, I will make my bed and lie in it.
-Adriana Bradley #BestWidowEver
A few thoughts to help others on a journey to better versions of themselves…
- Be intentional about creating a safe space for others to confess their struggles.
- Embrace the time you need to make necessary changes in your life. Remember we are creating a new normal. Don’t rush to solutions and overlook significance.
- Never tire of doing good. To ourselves, to others.