Some time ago I wrote a story here about my struggle with forgiveness. I’ve also written about courage and strength as well in another story. God has guided me through all three of these things and many more as well.
Today I want to share with you how my faith in the Lord worked to get me through an experience I had not expected I would ever be able to do.
Recently my ex-husband became very ill and on June 27th he passed away suddenly Before he died, the Lord put a burden on my heart that I must tell him that I had forgiven him and with the help of my daughter I was able to let him know. I was unable to tell him in person myself because of the distance he was from me and talking on the phone was not an option for him.
My children asked me to speak at Joe’s funeral and I agreed to do so. I would like to share with others some of the words I spoke at his funeral, not to bring any attention on myself, but in the hope that it will help others who are in similar situations. A lot of the eulogy I wrote is about family stories and I will not include all that, but I want to share the opening and closing paragraphs. Many of my friends were praying for me as I flew back to CT for his funeral and I am very appreciative of all those prayers.
Many of you probably wonder how or why I am here to share a few stories about Joe since we have been divorced for many years and quite frankly, when my daughter asked me to do this my first reaction was “ARE YOU SERIOUS? I am NOT a public speaker! That is why I wrote my words out and I am reading them to you. When I talked about it with my son and with a couple of close friends, I was encouraged to do it. As my daughter said, “ Mom, you and Dad were a big chunk of each other’s lives. Who knows him better?” Almost half of our lives we were dating and then married—a total of 32 years! I prayed about it and then I remembered about two verses in scripture that mean a lot to me, enough so that I recently wrote a post on my blog about courage and strength. The first is Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me which I have adopted as my life verse. The other is Psalm 31:24 – “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” With the guidance and strength from the Lord, I will do my best to speak clearly and share with you some of the fond memories I have of him.
And now the ending:
Joe played many different roles in all of our lives. We all will remember many different things about him – he was definitely a character! Some things were hurtful, yes. But I have found in my walk with the Lord that forgiveness is something we all need to do and God tells us in Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
This is another verse that God put on my heart to get my attention. A long time ago, I forgave Joe in my heart for the things that went wrong in our life together, but I had never told him that. We remained friendly towards each other for years. God put a real burden on me that I needed to let Joe know that I had forgiven him before either of us would be at total peace. With my daughter’s help, I was recently able to give him the message that yes I had indeed forgiven him. I am told he had a great sense of relief when she told him what I had said. I only wish I had told him those words sooner.
I was told that Joe went home to be with the Lord with a smile on his face because he had accepted the Lord as his savior quite a while ago. I know that smile was because the Lord held out his arms to Joe and welcomed him home. I also suspect that right behind the Lord waiting for him was his wife Judy and our son Joey. He is now in his new and perfect body and living in paradise.
To my children and granddaughters: He loved you with all he had in him and he will remain alive in your hearts forever because of the memories he left with you.
Rest in Peace Joe.
* I have removed the names of my children and grandchildren in this other than my son Joey who is no longer with us and the same with Joe’s second wife Judy who has also passed on.