By Amy Richards
Can we be honest and agree that after an exhausting day with toddlers, facing bath time is a true test of perseverance? I mean, by the time evening comes, the mom skills are simply depleted. A parenting hack I found useful when my girls were little was transforming into some form of alter ego. A secondary, alternative version of myself somehow ignited the energy to grind out bath time.
One of my favorite transformations was Mrs. Wishy Washy. She was the perfect combination of Mary Poppins magic and Mr. Banks’ crotchety disposition. Dirty children were detested by her and she had no sympathy for filth of any kind. My wide-eyed toddlers watched as I resigned my duties and exited the bathroom, and then burst forth as Mrs. Wishy Washy. Without time to blink, my girls eyed a woman flailing her wash cloth and howling that their mother had lost her plot. In constant complaint, Mrs. Wishy Washy began cleaning two toddlers and barking orders to lean left, turn right and present their hands. Warnings against throwing a fit were common and the girls usually remained silent. Before you could say, “Buckingham Palace”, bath time was over. Thank you, Mrs. Wishy Washy.
So, it was no surprise to my girls when another alter ego, “The Weeping Widow” emerged in the weeks following my husband’s death. Loss had obliterated our home and drained all joy and laughter. During that time, our church engulfed us with love and support. They put their love for my family into action by providing food and supplies. I didn’t have to cook for 40 days! (Can I get a whoop!)
It was somewhere around the 18th meal when the Weeping Widow made her debut in our home. I had just ended a call with a sweet parishioner and made the announcement to the girls that a meal was en route. Suddenly out of nowhere, the girls stood in defiance and declared that they would puke if that meal included ANY potato salad. They continued on a long rant about the amount of potato salad they had been forced to consume. I will admit, we did receive unusually large amounts of potato salad. Nevertheless, when I saw them turn into ungrateful, Hebrew children, I transformed into the Weeping Widow.
Sporting a limp, and in my best English accent, I slid to center stage and pretended to greet the woman bringing us our sustenance. I expressed gratitude for her efforts then warned her that if the meal included any potato salad, my children would throw up. I apologized for being the Weeping Widow – unable to provide proper meals- then suggested she turn around and get us fast food. After all, preventing a vomiting incident was the ultimate goal.
A few silent seconds exposed the thankless attitudes, and after our eyes locked, we all began to laugh. The laughter stood out against the backdrop of grief. I was suddenly aware of the lack of laughter that had crept into our home. You will be glad to know that when the sweet lady arrived, she handed us a delightful casserole with NO potato salad! We sighed in relief and laughed some more. That day, I became quite fond of the Weeping Widow alter ego. She brought laughter back to our broken hearts.
I’ve been walking through grief with God and the Weeping Widow beside me for two years now. Grief in God’s hands leads to holiness and purpose. I now realize God has entrusted me with the Weeping Widow for good works He planned in advance.
James 1:27 in the ESV Bible says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this, to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. The word visit means to inspect, observe or relieve. God gave me the Weeping Widow to be on mission. I can visit women who have suffered loss and bring relief to them. What title has been given to you that enables you to be on mission? Sweet friend, don’t hate or resist suffering, but allow God to use it for His mission!
Written by Amy Richards As the Executive Ministry Director at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Amy helps assist with church-wide initiatives and events. She has two daughters, both are in college. Their world was shattered in 2020, when Amy’s husband of 26 years was killed in a car accident. As God’s love ministered to her broken heart, it became clear that Amy was being reframed for a purpose. That purpose evolved when she founded ps119 Ministries at Tabernacle in Decatur, Illinois. The ministry’s mission is to help women who have suffered loss find God’s purpose and live a life with meaning-filled activity. Connect with her: @PS119Ministries