It’s here- a biblically based curriculum that is developed by widows, for widows! Stand in the Gap is so proud to announce that our widows team now has a printed curriculum for small groups and church partners to add to their tool kit. I got to sit down with SITG for Widows Program Director Amy Woody and talk through some of the exciting things this curriculum has to offer.
How long has this widows small group participant and leader curriculum been in the making?
We started working on the curriculum end of last year, but we’ve been talking about it since I started at Stand in the Gap two years ago. We have been in discussion for a long time about why we need it. It’s been on my heart, and we’ve had a lot of churches and people ask about what curriculum we use. Historically, there haven’t been a lot of options for widows out there. We started looking for a curriculum developer about this time last year, and by the end of 2022 we were meeting with her to get things in motion.
Who wrote it?
We had a curriculum developer work with us, but we really wanted a widows voice in it. We threw out a few ideas, and then I sat down with our curriculum developer and we actually mapped out the journey of widowhood. We went through what it looks like to be a widow- what you walk through, the things that help you, the struggles you face. Our developer took those ideas and compiled them.
Did you have a God sighting in the development of this widows curriculum?
God put this on our hearts from the beginning of my time here. TJ and I talked about how we really need to have a curriculum. I sat down and started an outline, and realized it was really beyond my scope to write the whole thing! The very first lesson I wrote, I used one of my favorite scriptures from Deuteronomy about not being afraid. I had never shared that with our developer.
When the time came, we had our first meeting and outlined it all. We went through the first two weeks of the curriculum, and the very first verse she used was the verse from Deuteronomy about not being afraid. I started crying. I told her, “That was the first verse God brought to me about this curriculum.” She never knew that, and that was the first verse she used in the curriculum as well. That was definitely a God sighting.
Is there a certain structure that it follows in terms of the grieving process?
It definitely follows a structure. It follows some of the things that you are dealing with earlier on- loneliness, isolation, etc. Obviously, there are things that are still part of our journey even later on in widowhood. But it starts there, and our hope is to create an “end journey” that leads to giving out, growth, and spiritual development.
I believe that anything we go through- good or bad- God uses to bless others. At the end of the curriculum, that is really what you’ll see. Even though its hard, giving out, giving back, and being thankful is what brings a lot of healing.
What is the time span that this widows small group study will cover?
It depends on how often groups meet to go through the study, but we wanted to offer a curriculum that covered at least one year for each small group. Most groups meet about once a month- There are 24 lessons covering 12 topics. These 24 sessions will last two years with small groups that meet once a month. For small groups that meet more than once a month, this study will cover a year.
What is something that you would want to tell a widow who is on the fence about doing this study?
I know some people can be on the fence about it, and especially early on in their journey they might think to themselves, “I don’t know if I can go to a group like this, its going to be hard.”
The most important thing to understand is that this study is not written just for people to sit around and cry and be sad. That’s not really what it’s about. It’s about healing. So if you are looking for that community and feeling alone, the best place to get out of that is to be with people who really understand. What I would say to the widow on the fence is that it is one of the bravest things you can do to come to a group or an event for the first time. This study was created to do in community. I can promise you, story after story (after story), the impact it’s going to have on you and your life is well worth it. Widows love other widows in a way that nobody can understand. You will come and find a community of people who understand without you even having to explain yourself.
So I would say… take that step, and don’t be afraid. You’ve overcome so much, because you are still living and breathing after losing your spouse and this is just one more step in healing. Be brave- you’ve already been so brave, so just continue to be brave.
What is something that you would want to tell a church partner who is just finding out about this study and this widows program?
What I tell most of our church partners is this- no one understands a widow like another widow. If you really want to impact your church and your community, reaching widows is a super easy way to do it. We feel so alone so many times, and I know this because of my own journey and so many others I hear. We say pretty frequently that we are one of the most under-served communities as widows. So, if you really want to make an impact that can last a lifetime and change the trajectory of someone’s life and their family’s lives, reaching a widow is a great way to do it. It doesn’t take a lot.
Can widowers also do this study?
Our study is written specifically for widows. With that in mind- we are in the process of beta testing some widowers programs with some of our church partners. We don’t currently have a curriculum for widowers, but we do hope to be able to share more with widowers in the future. We are thinking about that and working towards that goal!
What is your favorite part of the study?
For me, I lived this journey of widowhood. I know what it’s like having to find my own help and not finding it at my church. I attended grief share, which is for everybody grieving. It was still difficult because, again, no one understands a widow like another widow.
Seeing that this curriculum is specifically for widows and by a widow’s voice of understanding, I’m excited to see the impact that makes. I am excited to see the change and the healing, because like I said earlier, I believe that our healing comes by helping others. I hope to see through this that their lives and impacts change, so they can help other widows along the way. That’s really what it’s all about. I’m excited to see what God does with our curriculum. And while it’s “our” curriculum… it’s really God’s curriculum. I’m excited to see the impact it makes when widows know we care about them and we’ve made something specifically for them.