I always thought I had a very strong Christian faith, but little did I know my faith was about to be put to the test. I had to trust God was going to take care of me financially, mentally and spiritually. I just did not know how much God was going to push me to make me the person I am now. What I have learned is that God will not put anything before you that you cannot handle. Sometimes we need to ask God to help us get through a situation, and not take the situation away. Believe me my situation of being a widow at 54 was not going away! To those of you that have lost loved ones, there are stages of grief that we all go through. The first year was a fog to me. Just dealing with the financial aspect and emotional aspect of Chuck's death was overwhelming and often a blur for me, but with the help of family and good friends I made it through. After the first year, I thought I am doing ok with this grief thing and was feeling pretty confident. Keep in mind I say the word "I". Even though I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 12, I really had no idea what that meant. The second year of Chuck's passing came and that is when it all hit the fan so to speak. I continued to feel overwhelmed, sad, depressed, tired and run down, and it seemed like I was crying more than when he first passed away. I literally thought I was going crazy. I felt like I should be moving on, and making plans for my future. Again notice I say the word "I". I was still trying to do a lot of this myself, and not rely on God. I later find out the second year of grieving is the worst which I why I was not prepared for these feelings.
There were times in the second year I thought I would never get my joy and passion for anything back. I basically could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was just going through the motions. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Maybe this was my way of dealing with it all. I finally decided I could not keep going like this. Something had to be done! It was at that point I got on my knees and asked God to just take all this from me. I had been trying to do this alone and not letting go and let God take control. The way I saw it I had two choices... to start to live life again, or to stay the broken shell of a person I had become. I would tell myself "would Chuck want me to be without joy and passion the rest of my life?" Those of you that know my Chuck know he had a love for life and was always positive so I know he would want me to pick myself up and move forward.
With the help of counseling, great friends, family and my Lord and Savior, I was able to put my life back together again, but in a different way. I was still Valicia Bryant, but I was Valicia Bryant the mother, grandmother, friend and yes the hated word the "widow". I decided this past summer was going to be a time for me. I developed a consistent devotional and prayer time, got involved in church activities and Life Groups, spent a lot of time with my good friends Cathy and Kelley, and even took an unplanned 8 day road trip, which if you know me is hard to do. I am such a planner. LOL I spent a lot of quite time also listening to God. I think often times we talk to God, but don't take the time to listen to his response. I have developed a hunger for a deeper relationship with God that I have not had before. As all this was happening, I began to have a sense of calmness I have not felt in a long time. For the first time since Chuck and I heard the words "you have stage 4 colon cancer," I began to feel a sense of peace that only God can give. My joy and passion for life, work photography and just everything in general has started to return. Do I still struggle? You bet! Everyday, but I know when those waves of emotion hit me, I am not alone. That is when I seek God whether in the car, at work, home, etc. One thing that has helped me with my journey, is I have taken up running again. I love to put on Christian music and run outdoors to enjoy the beauty God has provided all around us.
I have learned with God ALL things are possible! You just have to let God take control and realize he knows what is best for you.