Sometimes its better to pause…

By Terry Pluto, Beacon Journal columnist

A few hours after her husband’s funeral, she had the urge to rearrange the furniture in the house. She talked to her children about some other projects.

“I told my mom just to wait,” said Paul Sartarelli. “She wanted to sell the car. She had just been through a battle with cancer with him, and it’s like she lost control of her life for a while. Now, she wanted to get it back.”

Sartarelli is a pastor at The Chapel and says it’s very hard for some of us to wait. Psalm 46:10 reads: “Be still and know I am God.” But being still often feels like giving up.

“There are times when we just aren’t capable of making good decisions,” he said. “You can make a terrible one just trying to find something to make you feel like you’re getting your life back.”

But the longer we live, often the more we lose.

“That’s why grief is very powerful, but it’s also one of the most off-limits subjects in America,” said Bishop Joey Johnson of the House of the Lord. “In this country, we are just supposed to keep acquiring things. When we lose something, we are told to just swallow it and move on.”

We can move in the wrong direction.

My mother died of a heart attack in 1984. Within a year, my father had moved to Florida. Other than my brother, the rest of our family was in the Cleveland/Akron area. I now sense he wanted me to tell him to wait before moving, but I refused to give him any advice.

Florida was OK for him, but I always believed he would have been happier had he stayed in Northeast Ohio closer to family and friends. But he wanted to do something…

“Sometimes, it comes out in anger,” said Johnson, a certified grief counselor. “We want to sue the doctors. We want to get back at someone who we think cost us our job. We get angry, and we don’t even know why.”

That often happens when someone is divorced.

“They talk about the fear of being alone,” Sartarelli said. “But it’s more than that. Some people hate to be considered the victim of divorce.”

That’s because you start to think people are feeling sorry for you because your spouse took off with someone else. In most divorces, someone feels rejected, and there’s a temptation to find someone who will love you again — and make you feel that you’re worth being loved.

As Johnson said, that’s why so many poor decisions are made when it comes to second and third marriages. Most surveys reveal that 43 percent to 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce. For second marriages, it’s 63 percent to 70 percent, according to Divorce Magazine and other sources.

The magazine also reported that the average person remarries within three years of being divorced. Johnson believes many people need counseling, and he likes the Grief Recovery Program that comes through Summa hospitals and is at his church and elsewhere.

“If you bring all this unresolved pain of a first marriage into a second marriage, how is that going to work?” he asked.

“A lot of us are afraid to be in-between, sort of a no-man’s land,” Sartarelli said. “It’s not just with marriage. I have a friend who is leaving one job, and he’s getting a nice settlement. He’s taking the first offer that came by. Not only do I think he’s unsuited for it, but so does his wife.”

Isaiah 30:18 reads: “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him.”

But waiting can lead to us feeling forgotten, unloved.

People ask, “What are you going to do next?”

If we answer, “I don’t know,” we sound like a fuzzy-brained dolt.

If we say, “I’m waiting on God to show me,” we sound like a Holier Than Thou.

I recently met a lady whose left arm was in a sling. It was broken and required surgery. Her legs were bruised. It is a tough time, especially because she is leaving one job and trying to figure out what she should do next.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to work again,” she said. “But I’m not sure when. What I have learned is I’ve got to heal first; nothing else matters right now.”

It’s not just good advice, it’s godly advice.

Terry Pluto can be reached at Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at


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