Today is my birthday. Taylor’s would be on Friday. He used to joke that he married an older woman and would tease me about being a “cougar” for the two days between our birthdays when my age was a digit more than his. It feels strange to turn another year older and my husband not follow me as we grow up together. Taylor’s portrait is framed and resting against my dresser mirror. I know that one day a morning will come when I will look at this portrait and the reflection in the mirror next to it will be a woman that he wouldn’t recognize.
I think about how different labels have been applied to me during different stages of my life: daughter, friend, student, (uncoordinated) cheerleader, sorority girl, teacher, wife, mother. How is it possible that between 32 and 33 I picked up the label “widow?” A widow is a shriveled up old woman with a white bun who wears too many pieces of gaudy jewelry all at the same time. A widow is someone’s great aunt that gets referred to as a “tough old broad” in family stories. How can I possibly be a widow when I still have my natural hair color and fill out my wedding dress?
We all have labels that we carry around. Some we are proud of and some we would like to shed, but whatever our labels are, we can’t escape that being labeled is a part of being in society, even for those on the outskirts. However others may see us, there is only one label that matters when we all inevitably leave earthly society behind. When your time comes, will you be able to enter the gates of Heaven labeled as a child of God? The Lord knows your name. He knows your every thought and every hair on your head. All humanity belongs to God whether we choose to accept that label or not.
“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…“Isaiah 49:16
People often don’t like to dive into the last book of the bible due to fear of the most terrifying story ever told, but for the believer, the book of Revelation is full of so much hope. Chapter 22, verse 4 tells us, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” What an incredible day that will be! When I studied this verse a couple years ago, Margot was just a toddler and it reminded me of how excited she would get when her name was monogrammed on something or when her nursery teacher would write her name for her on her crafts. It was pure joy for my child. The bible tells us to have a childlike faith. If a young child can become so excited seeing her name written on one of her belongings, imagine the insurmountable joy of having the Lord’s name written on our foreheads (and seeing our names on His palms) because we belong to the Lord and designer of the universe!!
I have to remember on this birthday as I assess the fine lines that have crept onto my face over the last 6 months, that I didn’t just pick up this label of “widow” by chance. God planned for me to wear it in this life for reasons that will be revealed one day in eternity, and I trust wholeheartedly that it is for good. The Lord designed me to be a “tough old broad” and besides, the Son of God himself endured much worse suffering in his 33rd year. We can trust that through faith in Jesus Christ all suffering will cease one day. I like to picture the end of my life like the end of the movie Titanic where Rose is young again and ascends the ship’s grand staircase to be greeted under the clock by Jack. I know the ultimate joy will be in seeing the Lord face to face, but I like to think that when I take my last breath on this earth, I will open my eyes and see Taylor standing in front of me, handsome as ever, in his black western hat. He will reach his hand out to me with a big smile on his face and say, “Just wait until you see it.”
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