So many friends and loved ones we know struggle though the holidays. Whether it's keeping the stress at bay, or trying to fill emptiness left by a loved one passed, the "happiest time of year" sometimes just, isn't. The season of lights may just leave us feeling the darkness more than ever, and as my dear friend and guest blog writer Will reminds us, there is a light available for all of us that can permeate any darkness.
I hope you enjoy this very special guest post edition of the blog written Will and he and his wife's adorable lifestyle photos to follow!
Christmas Season is often filled with parties and time with friends and family. Bells are heard from Salvation Army volunteers, gift-giving (and friendly smiles) are at their yearly all-time highs, and towns just like our Indiana, PA, have festive "light-up nights" across the US. And then there's the food. Lots and lots of good food. For these reasons, and others, most would say that Christmas is their favorite time of year.
With all of these highlights, though - life is REAL - and trials and hardships don't take a break during the Holidays. For some, the Christmas-time joy of others becomes salt in the wound to the burdens that they alone bear. No holiday cheer or gift given can fill the void of a loss or a circumstantial sorrow that many endure.
That is the unfamiliar territory where my wife Joelle and I have found ourselves this December 2017. Life's circumstances have left us hurting, and questioning our laid out plans. Usually being ones to host Christmas parties and to "fa-la-la-la-la" our way through the end of the year, the unexpected suffering had us cancel the planning of the party, and left us looking forward to a hope of a better 2018.
When Joelle and I asked Jill to take a Christmas photo for us this year, we had intentionally planned to have only one or two shots - and that would be it. As the single photo turned into a full session (you can't keep a good photographer like Jill down...and we didn't mind!), we were then asked by Jill to write this blog post.
As I considered a topic for the post, I reflected on the photos, and what has become a resounding and reoccurring theme for this season of our lives as a newly married couple. It is often whispered to each other in dark moments where not much makes sense. A weighty yet tender spoken phrase that is told to remind a spouse's hurting heart of what is true, even in the darkness:
"We're in this together."
Simply that. We're in this journey, come what may, together. For I've found, now more than ever, that the best gift that can be given is not wrapped underneath a tree. And the most pertinent gesture of purpose and hope comes not in "Holiday Hoopla". It's not found in circumstances. It's only found in the personal reminder that you are not alone in the dark. The greatest gift that can be given is yourself.
As Joelle and I are Christians, our gift of our selves to each other is an echo of the great Giver - God - giving Himself to a hurting humanity, over 2000 years ago. Jesus. The person of God who came to give hope to those who saw none. That message has really helped us. Life is REAL - and we need hope that is real. Be it in marriage, or in life, I'm convinced that the gift of a person is what the world needs. That's why God gave Himself, and why husbands, wives and friends do best to give of their selves to others. It took a photo session with Jill to remind Joelle and I that we are in this together, and so for that we thank you, Jill.
And for others reading this, I hope this post encourages you in this season, if you too are suffering.
Joelle and I humbly say Merry Christmas, and may God be with you all of you.
"Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King."
Will and Joelle Rush