On February 9, pastor and author Jonathan Pitts will share his personal story of grief in My Wynter Season: Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Shadow of Grief. In this excerpt from an extensive interview Jonathan Pitts shares how he dealt with the tragic loss of his wife Wynter and its aftermath. It’s a revealing story of the power of faith and love.
What led to you to write, My Winter Season?
I went to Drexel University in Pennsylvania and graduated with a young woman named Wynter, fell in love with her and married her in 2002. We moved to Texas and started off on our life together and had 4 daughters, Alena, Kaitlyn, Camryn and Olivia. I became a non-profit executive (he served as executive director at The Urban Alternative), which was my plan. God made it happen and I ended up working in a kind of well-known family some of your listeners may know, Tony Evans and all his kids. I started working in the ministry which happened to be my wife Wynter’s uncle and her cousins. She started building, not on purpose, some content for our girls that she couldn’t find and she created it herself. She made a magazine called For Girls Like You and we grew this ministry like out of nothing. it’s a subscription magazine that still exists to this day. Honestly, Wynter started off with this publishing notion; she made the magazine; she started publishing devotions, coloring books and different resources for girls. Really, her whole heart was to create resources for our girls. Out of her heart for our girls, she would create resources for thousands of girls. We were in kind of a change of season, we were moving. We had been in Dallas 14 years working with the Evans family and Wynter starting her ministry there. We were moving to Nashville for me to take a role as an executive pastor in 2018. I was about to start my work and we went back to Dallas for one week. It was back in Dallas with Wynter’s family on July 24, 2018 that Wynter went suddenly and tragically. She passed away, she breathed her last breath. I didn’t have any idea. She wasn’t sick or anything so we didn’t have any idea what was going on but she would breathe her last breath. In the book I talk very vividly about how it happened and all that. Her heart just stopped and I tried really desperately to save her life and was unsuccessful in that. All of a sudden I found myself as a single dad and a widower and a pastor and a guy living in a new community where I didn’t know anybody and that’s where I found myself. I would say my story for the last two and a half years is the story of God rescuing me from my despair, rescuing me from the tactical things that it looks like to be a single dad.
How important was your support system in getting you through this period of grief?
It was everything that I needed that I didn’t know. The beautiful thing is the Evans family, a lot of people know are really busy. They’re prominent in ministry. I really feel like if we were in Dallas, and I was still working with the family I never would have left. I am a chill guy so everyone would have assumed that I was okay and someway, somehow, God knew I needed to come out from under that, not that its bad they’re an amazing family, they’re still my family, some of the best friends I could imagine. But he lifted us out, moving to Nashville with a whole new body of believers I didn’t know from Adam. I didn’t have any relationship capital with them. Somehow I feel like God was just setting me up to not being able to take any credit for what he would do in my life, for my girls and for me. I thought I was coming here to contribute to a team, but really I believe God was bringing us here to heal massive wounds and I probably would have just buried stuff down in Dallas moving on with the administrative work. It’s so important to be surrounded by people. A lot of people will say I don’t need a church anymore or I’ll find God myself online or I’ll find God never. I realized he had done that he lifted me me through these people, the kingdom people that are just ready to serve him. He had met me through literal people. He’ll have literally people in your life that love him. My advice would be to just get connected, get connected before you have a tragedy. Obviously for me it wasn’t like ‘I have a tragedy I better get connected.’ This is the part of the world I’m in. The bible says don’t forsake gathering together with your brothers and sisters because God knows what you have need of. I’m grateful for the church. I’m grateful for God’s people, I’m grateful for God’s kindness through people to connect me in really extravagant ways.
To hear the complete interview, listen to our On A Positive Note podcast.
You can find Jonathan Pitts by visiting his website or on Instagram at @pittsjr26 Check out For Girls Like You on social media: @forgirlslikeyou on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.