You’ve felt it. That all-too-familiar wave of grief. Sometimes it comes like a tidal wave. And often at the least opportune time.
Like in public.
Oh yes I’ve been there. Weeping in my cubicle. Walking down the street or in the grocery store having just passed another belly or baby carrier. Or the time I was telling you about when the grief flooded on picture day at my family reunion (link).
It doesn’t announce itself or give you any pleasant forewarning. There’s no alert or gentle knock; it has the audacity to just barge right in.
And maybe just when you thought you had grief in a manageable place...here come the holidays. And the wave crashes again.
Especially Christmas. On paper, it’s the jolliest, merriest, and most festive holiday of the year. It was Christmas three years ago when I saw with fresh eyes how the holidays both bring us together and how they have the unique ability to highlight what is missing. For some, it’s the loss of a precious loved one and Christmas shines a blinding light on their empty seat at the table. For me and my husband, we watched as a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Christmas ticked by with a glaring absence of joyful baby news.
What should you do?
What do you do when a year is filled with promise of change and breakthrough...and by the end, it doesn't deliver? Or when your grief is staring you in the face with no answers? The holidays shine a light on it. The baby in a manger shines a light on it.
I wouldn’t be writing if I didn’t have any hope to share. But first I want to acknowledge that for all the joy the holidays can bring, they also remind us intensely of what is broken.
During my less-than-fresh start to 2017, I had two friends who knew their otherwise happy baby news wouldn’t trigger happiness, as much as I might have wanted to fake it. They knew it would highlight the broken places of my story. And with a gift, they simply said, it’s ok. I want the best for you, I know you want the best for me, and I’m not asking you to fake anything for me. Thank God for friends like that!
One of the gifts was an Amaryllis, a gorgeous flower that has a uniquely special quality. It blooms only in the winter, when times are dark, cold, quiet. From the least likely soil and at the least likely time, this radiant flower bursts forth in bright shades of red.
Some people put an amaryllis bulb in the darkest corner of their basement where there’s no light at all because that’s how this flower stores the most energy. My friend gifted me this hopeful symbol of new life. A visible reminder of what we were hoping and praying for.
Christy Nockels wrote a song with the same name. She shared her thoughts behind the song and why the Amaryllis holds special meaning:
"In that particular time in my life, it was a really hard season. We were approaching a real winter, but in my soul, it was winter as well. I think we can all go through seasons of the soul, and it was a dark season for me personally. During those times, God prunes us. He gives and takes away. I was trying to trust him with some things that I didn’t understand and some things that were hurtful. The beauty of it is that sometimes the darkest seasons of our lives are when Jesus is saying: ‘I’m with you. You can grow in winter even still.’
"As I watched that bulb come out of that white ceramic pot through the Christmas season, I started thinking about Jesus and how he came when conditions were poor and how he was unexpected and how he surprised the night. He broke through a silence that the world had never known and a winter of the soul of the world. He brought with him this life that he offers us today. The song refers to how we can break through the hardest of seasons and surprise the night just like our Savior did.”
Surprise the night. Bloom in darkness. The contrast is mysterious but beautiful. And so our lives can be!
May you shine bright in the midst of the darkness.
I believe this is the story that is being written through our lives and through this rugged path of infertility. Even if you feel like a big black cloud right now. I sure did. And that’s when Luke 1:50 became a life preserver for me.
“His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him.” Luke 1:50
I would pray: “Okay Lord, grief might be flowing in wave after wave but SO DOES YOUR MERCY. I’m in desperate need of your mercy waves. Please bring them to overcome and overpower the grief.
When the waves of grief feel like they’re crushing you, my best advice...don’t stay silent. Cry out. God hears you. Others want to be there for you. They just don’t know what you need or how much you really do need them. They are often a voice that God can use to reflect back what He sees. His child, sitting in poor conditions, in darkness, waiting for a miracle. Eagerly expectant for the thrill of hope. A weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!