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These last two years have been an intense storm in our life. Someone observed recently that our family had experienced every significant life change within a few months. We experienced a major illness, work upheaval, a move two states away, a sibling's death, kids moving into and out of our home, starting a business, all while trying to finish graduate school.

We allowed ourselves to grieve

There were moments when grief overwhelmed and our tears flowed. Hearing that another surgery was needed, the impending death of a brother, saying goodbye to church family who we have loved as our own--all were points of crushing loss. Some days tears were necessary to release the pain we were walking through. We did not pretend that there was no pain to grieve, but wept together knowing that God cares about each tear that falls.

We looked for joy in the storm

In the months of my husband's recuperation from eye surgery, we found ways to make light of the situation. We watched pirate movies and compared eye patches, toasting one another with tropical drinks and pretending to be on the vacation we never got to take. Laughter was good medicine for our souls, and friends from all over sent pirate kitsch to help us maintain the levity. We were intentional about seeking moments of fun and humor. Even in pain, God provides glimpses of joy to delight us if our hearts are tuned to look for them. Will we see only the rain cloud, or will we catch a glimpse of its silver lining?

We drew together 

Trials are challenging enough, but they get worse when the stress tempts us to place blame or fight with one another. In the exhaustion of a difficult season, tempers flare, but turning on each other won't help the situation. In times of thin patience, we need to lean in, resisting blame and apologizing quickly, striving to give the benefit of the doubt. Better to curse the circumstances with honest grief than to blame your partners and damage your supporting relationships. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 speaks to the teamwork we need:  "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" We can weather the storm best when we support each other.

We asked for help

We need community to get through challenges. Life is difficult enough to manage on our own. Leaning on friends helped us to feel more connected to the body of Christ. Whether it was giving a ride, bringing a meal, or just sitting alongside and listening, each act of kindness helped us to carry the weight of a painful season. It was hard to ask for help, but we needed the community of faith to keep life together. It takes a village to raise a child, and it helps for getting through disasters too. We are not superhuman, we can't do everything. God brought us into community and asks for us to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2).

We kept our eyes on God 

There were days that things made no sense--beyond our family struggles, a young boy from our church was murdered in street violence in which he had no part. Unmanageable pain overwhelmed the body and the spirit. At these moments of heartache, God walked with us through the dark valleys. We were not forgotten, and he never failed us. We were not given all that we desired, but God walked with us through all the mess. God's love was constant as chaos swirled around us.

We pray that you would be encouraged through the painful seasons to grieve the losses and find God faithful in the midst of the storm. May God give you the strength to draw near to others and know the blessing of a community of faith to carry you through.

 

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