This last year has presented me with a lot of change and for the first time in my adult life, I doubted myself. That may seem to be an odd or arrogant statement. You never doubted yourself? But with Pam as my life partner there was surety in the choices we made. One of the blessings of being married to Pam that I miss the most is her advice and perspective. During our 25 years together we experienced seemingly non-stop change. Some of the change was forced on us but much of the change came as the result of decisions we made. The process of making those decisions seemed so right, not always smooth, the discussions didn’t always end in total agreement but the process brought safety. There was safety because she was so different in her approach to everything than I am. Between the two of us, we covered most issues with amazing breadth and depth. Honestly, I think I enjoyed that exercise more than she did. Pam was the most confident and decisive person I have ever known (no hyperbole). Normally she would make a decision quickly and it was the right one. It was always satisfying to me to bring a perspective that she had not considered and watch her eyes get wide and her hand move up to cover her open mouth as she would laugh and say something like, “you’re right, you’re right, I never would have thought of that but YOU ARE SO RIGHT”. Then I would say, “I’m sorry, what did you say? Say that again!” It was so much fun to be married to her.
I was thinking this week about the relationship we had and it dawned on me that the one constant for both of us was respect. I had so much respect for her, her love for God, her love and care for her family, her love for others, her work ethic and the one thing that really blew me away was her ability to discern both people and situations. My tendency was to see things the way I want them to be, she saw things for what they were.
Facing change with Pam at my side always was doable, deliberative and safe.
Change did not stop when Pam left and lately it has been more challenging than normal. A few months ago our son asked me what I thought about him joining the Army National Guard. Believe me, that conversation would have contained exponentially more interrogation if Pam was here. All I could think of was how proud she would be of him. So he is going to graduate (change) and leave for a year (change). Our daughter Molli had the opportunity to take an internship that would be a great opportunity but push back graduation by a semester. That was another discussion that I would have loved to have her thoughts. The decision was for her to take the internship and move to Illinois for a semester (change). The third big decision was whether or not to make a move to a different real estate company. I loved the office I was in, but for business reasons and stewardship issues, I knew I needed to make a change. I talked to several people I greatly respect and decided to make the move (change).
Call me a whiner but the advice I valued above all others was not available during these decisions (and so many more) and that shined a spotlight once again on the gaping hole of her absence. I never realized how much of my self-confidence was the result of standing next to her. She was strong, decisive, intuitive and “take your breath away” beautiful! Lest you think she was all show, she backed it up with results. Whatever she put her mind to; she knocked out of the park. Her words carried so much weight because her actions produced so many results. As she always said to me, “Just make it happen, Thomas”.
I have spent all of these words discussing the human experience of facing change, change that causes me to have to face her absence in new and painful ways. But that’s only part of the story.
James 1:2-4 “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.”
God is faithful. When the darkness of grief moves in reminding me of my loss, God’s Spirit ministers truth and provides wisdom. I don’t think I will ever have the confidence in the advice of anyone like I did with Pam but with God’s Spirit living within me and the love and counsel of family and friends, I will always have all of the guidance I will ever need.
I can tell you that it is true that there is joy in the growth toward God that I have experienced this year. I can also be honest and say that I have wondered if it is worth the cost. Would you give up your dearest human relationship to grow closer to God? Almost audibly I can hear Pam screaming, “YES!!!”
Change is always going to be more difficult without Pam by my side, but really, I will never face change without her. Her words, wisdom and legacy will shape every decision I ever make. She was a gift to me from God. She always told the story of how she prayed for years for her husband and God gave her one that met her needs before she knew what she needed. I would say He blessed me 100 times more by giving her to me.
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Pam was a gift from God, but not just for me, she was truly a gift to all of us, a fun, cheery, loving, super sparkly gift to brighten our lives and give hope to all of us. Even after more than a year, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say, “I still can’t believe she’s really gone”. The depth of my pain is in direct correlation to the magnitude of His gift. What must the gift that Pam is experiencing right now be like? She faced her final change with grace, courage and strength as she rested in the promise of Jesus. It is right that the gift that God blessed us with is now enjoying the gift that God prepared for her!