I am a lover of all things cozy so, naturally, Christmas is my JAM. However, things are different now. I still love the Holidays, but they are a glaring reminder of all the things that have been stripped from us, and all of the promises and dreams that may never be fulfilled because of what has happened to Zack, to us. A reminder of all we have and will miss out on. The Holidays can feel very dark and very lonely. Last year was hard, and this year was no different.

We were so busy that I hardly had a moment to slow down, to really ponder where I was at. This is usually a sign that things will implode, and turns out, it was. It generally hits me when things slow down, when I’m alone and can process everything, this is always late at night. I spent a few nights during the latter part of my last week off staying up until ungodly hours, trading off crying into my pillow, yell-praying silently (it’s a thing, trust me), and trying to distract my emotions by watching stupid shows about some guys in Miami who make gigantic fish tanks.  Yes, I live a glamorous life. After two nights of this and being exhausted, and subsequently a sucky mom, during the day, things really were not getting better for me. On top of everything else, enter shame spiral. Because, when it rains…

I usually just try and ride out the storm since there isn’t much else that helps. Then on Sunday, I was forced out of my grief bubble and into the world in order to host church. These people know me, they know me well in fact, and I am terrible at pretending.  Pretty much right away they had my number, and it scared the daylights out of me. Being vulnerable, messy, truthful, and raw is not an easy task, but I knew I had to do it.  They wouldn’t let me have it any other way. Friends, I cried hard, I used more tissues than I can count, my nose felt like a faucet that had been turned on full blast,  and my voice cracked and shook as I explained how sad, lonely, desperate, and hurt I was..still, after nearly two years.

Do you know what these people did and how they responded? They cried, their voices shook, their noses ran like faucets, they held me, laid their hands on Zack, cried out to Jesus on our behalf, expressed their frustration, and sang over us. I choke back tears even now thinking about it. I needed them to come be with me and that’s just what they did. They didn’t try to encourage me out of my grief, pump me up, dust me off…they didn’t even try to pick me up.  They didn’t pretend to know all the answers, or any at all. They stepped down into the pit with me and they held me so I didn’t have to be alone down there.

Their sacrifice made me feel seriously loved and cared for. After that, there was no place for feelings of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness to settle into my heart. Of course I still hurt, of course I am still sad. Because I love Zack so much, I will feel a measure of sadness for the rest of my life. But to feel known, fully and completely, and still loved, there was no room for anything but Love in my heart. This is the church, this is Jesus.

Forward march…together.

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