Alongside

As I leaned into the wall by the patio door, I was only looking for a moment to breathe between breakfast and the day. My daughter, Eden, was born with Down syndrome a year earlier. As difficult as Down syndrome had seemed in the hospital, the reality of Eden’s medical needs was more overwhelming than I had imagined. I was weary in soul and body—weary of waiting rooms and surgeries, weary of loneliness and busyness, weary of well-intentioned but insensitive words from others. And I was deeply sad.

That day, as I watched the stillness of the bushes on the hill outside my window, I sensed something else come alongside my sadness. I sensed that Jesus was experiencing exactly what I was experiencing. I had heard the sentiment before. But in that moment I understood it for the first time. God felt my grief as I did. He was going through it with me. For one moment, hope rose. For one moment, that was enough.

Resurrection moments cannot be conjured, only received. Yet now, over six years later, I often return to the spiritual altar I built around that brief understanding. I see Jesus’s rising joy every day in Eden’s smile, her energy, her love. I see the pain, too, as I live in the breath before new life begins forever. And I hold to the memory of one morning when I realized that resurrection is still possible.

Join the Conversation

Picture Jesus standing beside you today. What feelings do you imagine he would be having as he shares your day with you?

Elisa Fryling Stanford:
    Elisa Fryling Stanford is a writer and editor in Colorado. She is the author of Ordinary Losses: Naming the Graces That Shape Us. Elisa and her husband have two daughters.  
  • Tara Bozarth

    I hope you keep posting your updates to your facebook page. It’s so easy to see when there is an update.

  • Jeanette Thomason

    Elisa, thank you for this. Beautiful. I’m glad you’re blogging. You have much to say and share. Love.

  • Leigh Davidson

    Elisa,
    I’ve been wanting to ready more of your wonderful thoughts. So glad you’re blogging!
    Leigh

  • Avi

    I’d like to see more on this, too, Elisa. I think it’s really neat. :3

    Averi :)

  • Erin Healy

    I love “the spiritual altar I built around that brief understanding.” I forget to build those metaphorical altars, and then I forget my understanding. Thanks for reminding me to remember.

  • Mary Strait

    You were the word of the Lord to me today. Thanks! Your blog brought to mind another I just read–someone realizing that they could be present for someone in pain, but they could not experience it for them. See http://stations-of-the-cross.com/blog/ titled “Alone”.

  • Corrie

    I see that rising joy in Eden’s smile too. She is so beautifully and wonderfully made. I’m glad we can walk through the pain and joy together, and wait expectantly for the new life to come.

  • http://msn.com Jackie Martin

    Hi Elisa,

    You are so talented in expressing your emotions. You are such a wonderful person and I am so glad that we got to know each other.
    Eden has been such a blessing to me as well. The wonderful “sunshine” that just shines all over her has helped me to deal with the loss of my son, Duane. Even though my grief is not the same as yours, our source of peace both come from Jesus. You ability to put into words how you find comfort and peace are a blessing for many of us who grieve. And to find the joy in what would otherwise be a sorrow is so true. Thanks for helping me find that joy also. God Bless you. You and Eric are such good parents!