Finding Joy in the Middle of the Grief

It was Christmas Day, 7 years ago, and we were sitting around a hospital bed.

Most people would say that doesn’t sound like a very good Christmas day, and no, it wasn’t where any of us had planned to spend Christmas, but if you know this family, you know the love & laughter that fills the room when they are all together – it’s contagious – and it didn’t matter where they were, just that they were together is all that mattered.

The man who we were all gathered around was a man that I greatly looked up to and respected. He was a man who lived out the Great Commission, who through his relationship with the Lord and his family, helped me to understand more of what being saved meant and what it looks like to live for Jesus, to fully trust in Him. He was a man full of advice of just about anything, and he was also the man who helped raise the man of God I had fallen in love with.

We had spent that day at the hospital and by dinner time, some had gone to get some dinner, some had gone home, and Aaron and I had decided to stay there in the room with his mom and dad. His dad was in the hospital bed resting, his mom by his side like she always was, and Aaron and I were sitting beside her. The lights were dim, the tv was on, probably American Pickers. No one was really talking much; we were just sitting there contently. Aaron nudged my arm and said, “come here.” I said “what?” as I nestled comfortably back into my chair, but I wondered if I had heard him right. He asked again & this time I knew I had heard him clearly and I said “Why?” with a little confused smile. He wasn’t going to give up even though I was being a bit stubborn. He grabbed my hand, lifting me up from my chair, “Come here” he said, as I stood up, he held my hands and pulled me over to stand in front of him. I was very confused about what he was doing, a little embarrassed, and I could feel his dad watching us. Aaron began to remind me about how he had admired his grandparents and their love for each other, and then about his parents love story and how he had always prayed for a love like they have. I could hear him talking to me, but I also remember looking over his head out the hospital window and noticing the lights of the city and hospital lights glowing. He continued to share his heart with me, about our dreams together, and how he had fallen in love with me and wanted the love story with me he had been shown his whole life by his parents and grandparents. He gently pushed me to step back, with his hands in mine, as he dropped down to one knee and let go of my hands to open a little black velvet box. As he did this his mom spoke up and said “Wait, wait, I don’t have my glasses on!” & we all laughed.

As you can guess, Aaron asked me to marry him and of course I said yes!! After, I remember going over to his dad’s bedside, hugging him, and with tears in his eyes and seeing the pride beaming from him as he talked to Aaron.

Christmas Day will always be special because it’s the birth of our Savior, Jesus, but it’s even more special for us because of this night.

Now, his dad spends glorious Christmas’ in heaven, and I cling to that hope that he is rejoicing with angels. Yet, here, we still hurt because we miss the ones we love, wishing they were here with us for Christmas traditions, but I’m reminded as this unforgettable year comes to an end, that there is still so much to choose to be thankful for, to hope for, to be joyful about. I’m reminded that even in a place of deep sadness it can also become a place of deep joy. Like remembering the memories that we shared, the light they brought into our lives, and how they helped shape us into who we are. It gives us strength and hope to keep on moving forward, looking for one small blessing after another.

I smile at the thought of that same hospital where Aaron asked me to spend forever with him, where his dad passed, is also the same hospital where all 4 of our babies were born, where new chapters of our journey began.

Still so much hope here.

Still so much love to give and hold onto.

So much joy in the little things, that could have been missed if I wasn’t looking for them.

I read this from author, Ann Voskamp and it fits perfectly here:

“God always brings good out of bad.

God always turns hard things into good gifts.

No matter what tries to tear you apart, God holds your heart.

No matter what bad was meant to harm you, God’s good arms have you.”

 

Rest in His promises this season, in His goodness.

He is near to the broken hearted and gives rest to the weary.

 

Merry Christmas, friends!

 

Yours truly, LeAnna

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