In this journey called life I would have never thought that I would experience such a tragedy so early on in life. One that changed everything for not only me and my family but for an organization- a Family so dear to our hearts, our church. This one incident shook people in nations but it also shook and still shakes the young woman living in Kissimmee Florida.
No one would have thought, and only God knew that this day was coming. For me it was too soon but for God it was right on time. The timing of God is a mystery at times. Many times I have sat back and thought about the “what if”. As milestones in our lives hit – I often wonder “What if I would have done this or that” or “what would it be like with Him still here?” I quickly am reminded by Holy Spirit that I can’t live in the “What if” world. I must live in the now world, in the world of reality and TRUST the process. Trust the journey, Trust the plan.
As I continue in my journey there is one thing that I have not truly been comfortable with. There is a reference that has been used, in my opinion, loosely and even an attempt to use this word to define me as a result of my situation. There is a word that truly gets under my skin and I am so uneasy with it. I have battled with this word for over a year now and yet I still am not in agreement with the labeling and association of ME with this word.
I was having a conversation with a sweet sister of mine and we began to talk about this and I shared my heart with her. Thank God for amazing sisters in Christ that know how to hear you and also love you with amazing advice from Heaven. In this conversation I shared the discomfort I had with the association and even shared a bit of what I feel we do too much of.
In this process called life there are moments and negative situations that occur, some out of our control and other not so much that cause us to be labeled. For some this label follows them until the day they go with Jesus. I sat back and said BUT why? Why should this always be the case? Why are we defined by situations that occur in our lives? Or should we be? Should we allow others to do that to us? I get it, it’s easier to comprehend and compartmentalize situations when we can’t fully grasp the “Why” or when we need to quickly define something or someone based off of their situation. Please keep in mind this situation may only be seasonal. I fall guilty to doing this, I am not exempt from this. But now more than ever I do my best to stop and think, why am I negatively defining or labeling that person in that way. How do they really feel about me doing that? Do they see themselves in that way? Does Jesus see them in that way? Aren’t we created in His image? Aren’t we loved by Him who makes all things new? Are we not transformed when we live a life sold out for Jesus? Do we always refer to an ex-drug addict as “The Drug Addict”? Or the Ex-Sinner as a Sinner all their lives? No of course not. Once we are redeemed and transformed in Christ, we are made new. The old life has passed away and we are born again. In layman terms if there was a decision made to put the old behind and start again, then why do we classify an individual with their past.
Here is where my struggle begins, please keep in mind that I am speaking for me and how I feel being the age that I am, and which I still believe is young. When it comes to defining who I am as a result of my relationship status why are folks so quick to call me the widow of Pastor Tony. There it is: The “W” Word. I detest when people do this. When addressing me in Spanish – La Viuda – it’s WORSE for me to hear. It gets under my skin. For me it sounds like a word that should be used when you are much older in age (90 years old) and had the opportunity to share life with a person for more than just 15 years. I hear of stories with husbands and wives that shared 30, 40, and even 50 years of marriage together but me, I only had 15 precious years. That was just not enough time with him. The word widow is mentioned in the Bible multiple times and even mentioned in reference to women with smaller children. I can imagine these women were still young when they lost their husbands, so I am able to relate to what some of these women have felt and yet for ME I really detest being labeled as The Widow of Pastor Tony.
I remember I went out of the country to a beautiful country called Ecuador right after the accident. It was only a few weeks after and the one term they continued to use over and over again to describe WHO I “WAS”, was Viuda. “La Viuda Del Pastor Tony”. This is how I was introduced to Pastors, leaders and people in the community. It was not, this is Pastora Cristina. When I heard that horrific label for the first time my heart literally leaped out of my chest and I wanted to scream. I hated every second of that moment and even every moment after that. I cried, screamed, cried some more but that was just the beginning.
After the accident I had to begin to fill out paper work at doctors’ offices, schools, etc. and didn’t realize that even filling out paper work would trigger emotions in me when it was time to declare your relationship status. I detested filling out that area on the documents. Checking that one box that popped out at me – the widow box was and still is heart wrenching to do. Once I hand the receptionist the paper, I detest them looking at me with a pity face trying to figure out how young I am or thinking what happened. The journey has not been easy, but I am not defined by this. I am defined by Jesus. He calls me beloved. He calls me daughter, he calls me by name – Cristina and not by my situation. Please do not mistake me, biblically should we care for the widow? Yes. Should we pray for the widow? Yes. Shall we keep her labeled a widow all her life – NO. Does she have the opportunity to live again? Yes. Can she love again? I hope so.
Knowing all this – why not refer to me like they all did in Guatemala, “The Wife of Pastor Tony”. I could not believe how I felt when I heard that statement. I was honored, I was humbled, I was pleased, I had peace. Wasn’t I his last and only wife? Didn’t I honor him in all I did? So why not remember me as his wife vs. his widow? He never knew me as his widow so why should I be labeled like that if that doesn’t define who I am. I am Cristina, I am not – Widow. The W Word that should be used for me when describing my relationship status for now should be – she was the WIFE of Pastor Tony and her name is Cristina. Not “The Widow”.