It’s been over a year since my husband died, and I finally came to a place where I could listen to the voicemails left on my cell phone during the first few days. My inbox was full and no one could leave a message, but I’ve been avoiding listening to the voicemails. I haven’t had the strength to do it. It was just too painful.

“You have 38 messages.”

Although I’ve been navigating my new life as a widowed mother for some time now, listening to the voicemails would confirm that my worst nightmare did come true. My husband was gone. It wasn’t a bad dream. He’s never coming back. Oftentimes during the grieving process you feel like a zombie because you’re numb. The voicemails served as more evidence for me that I wasn’t sleeping. It was all true.

After much prayer, I realized that if I was going to move forward, I would have to let the voicemails go. I couldn’t keep them locked away forever. I had to face the pain. It was the only way I could make room for new messages, and hopefully the messages to come would be filled with better things and good news.

So, I took a deep breath, and despite my anxiety and trepidation, I dialed into my voicemail.

Message 1

I listened to the first message. I held my breath as if I didn’t know what it was going to say. I gripped my phone with hesitation hoping that if I prayed hard enough, the message would change. But, it didn’t.

“Lauren, we heard the news and are so sorry for your loss. Please give us a call when you can.”

Message 2

My heart raced as I kept listening. As I listened, I thought, “I can’t believe this happened. I can’t believe this is my life. How did I make it through those first few days?” In hindsight, I know I made it through because of God’s grace – and partly because I was in shock. My mind was numb to the reality that he was gone. After more than a year later, it is finally sinking in. He’s gone, and he’s never coming back.

Message 5, 7, 14

“If there’s anything we can do, please let us know. We’ll keep you in our prayers.”

I listened to each message, and each message pulled me deeper into those first hours and days when I was in shock and filled with grief. However, I managed to get through all 38 messages, but not without shedding more tears. As I expected, listening to the voicemails put me in the place I was afraid to go – missing my husband and grieving my previous life. However, despite it all, I did it. I listened to and cleared every message.

“You have no new messages.”

As I continue to press through the hurt and pain, I realize there are many aspects of letting go. I know ignoring the voicemails was another way to avoid the reality of my husband’s death. I didn’t have to face it as long as I had 38 voicemail messages even though I live the reality every day as I raise our children alone.

However, the Lord is always encouraging me through the process. The Lord reminds me that making room in my voicemail inbox is symbolic of me making room in my life. I have to let go of the past in order to receive the blessings of the present and future.

In Exodus 16, God blessed the children of Israel with manna to collect and eat each day. God told them to gather just enough for the day. When they disobeyed and tried to hoard manna for the next day, they found it molded and rotten. In the same way, God gives us blessings for each day, but if we revel in the blessings of the past, which in some cases are no more and never to be experienced again, we miss out on God’s blessings for today.

My past life with my husband was good, but it is no more. I have to open my hands and let go of yesterday, so I can receive what God wants to bless me with today. It is not easy, but grace, joy, peace, forgiveness, healing, provision and more is available today. We just have to take hold of it. I don’t know about you, but I’m opening my hands to receive it.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22–23 (NRSV).

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