Looking out the window of my overly-packed minivan, I was struck by the beauty of the light as it hid in the dense trees closest to the road — and by its significance.
Just beyond the darkness, the light speckled the trees, shining tiny rays on sun-thirsty leaves. And just beyond that, full, warm, inviting sunshine beckoned the wildlife to bask in it, much like the arms of Christ beckon me to come and receive the new peace He has for me.
There I sat, almost four months after losing my Elijah; my precious third child. Four painful months. Four months of healing. Four months of God’s grace and mercy.
I had packed my family into the minivan for an adventure; our first family vacation. I needed fun this summer. I needed to relax and do nothing except enjoy my family. I knew my husband and kids needed the same. It was a long, dark winter — knowing my baby’s fatal diagnosis, waiting for his birth and inevitable passing for 14 long weeks. Feeling his every move and watching my belly grow, knowing he would only be in my arms for a short time. Planning his funeral instead of washing and folding his tiny clothes. Enduring the indescribable pain of watching my husband carry the tiny casket that contained his small body.
Yes, the beach seemed like a perfect destination.
Along the way, I had many reminders of my little boy. One of which happened during the first of many stops on a two-day car trip with toddlers. My breath caught in my throat when I saw the exact same tiny teddy bear that was gently tucked under Elijah’s arm while he was with us — a gift from a friend. The original is now safely displayed in my memory box with Elijah’s other things. I had looked for a bear exactly like it for months, to no avail. But there, in the most unlikely place, it happily sat on its little shelf, as if to say, “I am always with you.” Holding back tears, and trying to avoid making a spectacle of myself, I silently tucked the bear under my arm and made my way to the check-out. He made the entire trip on our dashboard, where he remains still.
The elation of my precious discovery was short-lived, however, as mere hours later, I had the distinct joy of catching child vomit in my hands at 75 mph. (Yay for motherhood and carsickness!) But, through it all, I saw the sunshine, literally and metaphorically.
It’s not that I hadn’t seen glimpses of the sun during the difficult times, because truly, those tender moments of Christ’s sweet presence are what carried me. It’s just that sometimes the sun had trouble getting through the dense darkness that clouded my broken heart. My earthly nature warred heartily with my spiritual nature, knowing that God was not surprised by Elijah’s condition, nor was He ever out of control of the situation, but I was often so overcome with fear and grief it seemed hard to breath.
Indeed, those long winter months were full of sadness, but Christ’s presence pierced my pain much like those rays of light beyond the darkness of the tree line. And now, I’m entering into the fullness of healing and blissful joy. It has been many months since I could sit and look around at my life and just be deliriously happy — giddy even. But I catch myself doing it again. The laughter comes easier, the tears less frequent. Life has taken shape to a new normal; one where Elijah is an active part of our daily lives in our hearts and our thoughts, while he lives out a life fuller than we can fathom here on earth. Christ, in His gentle mercy is moving me beyond the pain to the truly abundant life that He has in store for me.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
He is good. He is faithful. And I praise Him for the warmth and light of His Son, whose love endures through it all.
Welcome to Ungrind!
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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What Women Are Saying
-- Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, author of Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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