“As I waved a stack of insurance papers in the air, I said to my husband, ‘I’m afraid you are going leave me with this mess.’ My husband was a dentist and managed his own practice while I raised the children. The kids were 15 and 10 at the time. Little did I know that within the year, I would manage the practice and lead our family on my own.”
As I travel, I hear stories like this from women who found themselves suddenly single again. The median age for widowhood is 59 and by the time a married woman is in her mid-60s, she is equally as likely to be widowed as married.
All too often, I hear the same message, “I wasn’t prepared.” Although we can’t possibly anticipate the weight of being suddenly single, research confirms that women who were involved in their financial planning do far better transitioning into a second season of life.
The resiliency and resourcefulness of a woman who is single again is remarkable. Recently, a woman in her 40s shared with me how she found purpose in her new season. Jane and her husband ran a family business together and after his passing, she wondered if there was anything left of meaning. “I’m not sure what it looks like to go from ‘we’ to ‘me,’” she told me.
Jane prayerfully pondered selling the business. After all, what would she do with a heavy machinery business? However, she felt an internal assurance that she was to step in and manage going forward. A decade later, her business is her ministry. Practicing care for the employees and their families while she gives generously from business profits has made her life full of meaning. She is experiencing God expand her beyond what she thought was possible.
A new friend Nancy described how discovering her passion for giving brought vibrancy in the next season. Now that she was on her own, the challenge was choosing to live in faith over fear. Without anyone to guide her, she sat down at her kitchen table and in a notebook began to answer the question: “If money, time, and location were no object, where would I choose to invest my life?”
From her list of ideas, Nancy made plans to connect with nonprofits doing work in these areas, specifically gospel translation and humanitarian aid. She determined with her advisor how much she could give each year for these projects that were her passion.
Fast-forward five years and Nancy is joyfully engaged traveling with one organization and reaching people globally. “I didn’t know how to develop a giving plan,” she says, “but I knew that it was important that I got organized and intentional about spending my remaining years with wisdom and purpose.”
Scripture tells us God’s heart is for the widows and that His tender care is abounding in the hardest of times as we experience His nearness even more powerfully. My mother used to assure me that God’s grace meets us exactly when we need it. I’ve certainly seen grace come in and carry us along during our weakest moments and bring renewal after the storm.
In Thursday’s post, I’ll share a tool for creating your own giving plan as you look to live with purpose in your next season.