“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy…”
Psalm 126:2a NIV
My sister Jeni is sunshine and smiles and one of the best gifts the Lord has given me. She paints levity and joy in every room she enters. God’s good medicine is my little sis.
She and I together have celebrated America’s birthday oodles of times. However, our experience two years ago was the best one out of all for me. A day of God’s sweet grace, hope, and healing.
The week of July 4th, 2016, my sister and her family drove down from Oregon to SoCal for vacation and time with loved ones.
Less than a month earlier, my family of six experienced trauma. The deepest waters of my life. As the awful continued, I believed I would never laugh again. Maybe a chuckle here or there I conceded, but sheer, deep belly- laughter vanished forever.
I was in a pit so deep that I had to push myself out of bed in the mornings. Nights of insomnia and tears were my consistent companions.
But when one has family in town, one must rally. And so I did. We enjoyed beach days, went to a Neil Diamond cover band concert, and ate and ate and ate. A sweet diversion from the ache and reality of our circumstances. God used our dear ones from Oregon as a healing balm over our seeping wounds.
On July 4th, we gathered at my dad’s house for a day of swimming, tennis, food, and then fireworks. A day burned beautiful in my mind and heart. To my surprise, I howled that day; full belly-laughter all day long! God used my sis to shine a light in my tunnel of darkness. We were silly sisters once again: inside jokes, conversing in our own “language”, dancing, and singing. I joined Jeni in her infectious world of joy and delight. The group of us played, sang and danced to Neil Diamond music, and introduced our kids to him in our weirdo way. I felt unfettered, carefree and yes, surprised by my laughter.
As we drove home that evening, tears of gratitude fell. My boys, concerned after witnessing so much sorrow in me in the last weeks, asked me what was wrong with fear in their eyes. The words would not come as I sobbed, the mix of emotions overwhelmed me. Yet, in that moment, my heart understood that we were going to be okay.
We are okay.
I met hope and healing on that July 4th. Because of the joy of the day, I found inspiration through the difficult miles in our dark tunnel to seek shiny, happy moments with intention. These experiences gave me the strength to continue.
In the seemingly endless seasons of hard, there are treasures of light in the dim. These breaks in the sorrow must happen as we continue the walk through the unknown. We seek out loved ones to join us, to help us, as my sister and so many others helped me. This is a vital form of self-care. Fun people and experiences are not just diversions, but they also serve as favors from God as a relief to our wounds.
“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3 NIV
Life is full of tunnels: some dark, almost endless, and scary, others brighter and easier to tread. I pray for the Lord’s gift of laughter and songs of joy over you, dear one, in whatever tunnel you find yourself in today. May your heart smile as you find hidden treasures and riches, AND of course: full-belly laughter.
You are going to be okay.
If you don’t know where to begin, may I suggest you press play on your favorite music app and let Neil Diamond serenade you? Also, if your most fun friend is not available, let me know, and I’ll see if my sister is free.