I have heard it said that part of what is lost in the wake of traumatic experiences is imagination. Something about what happens to our brains when shattering events occur shrinks our ability to imagine.
Two years ago on a cold snowy evening in Holland, Michigan when all of my "original" three children were home for Thanksgiving we decided to walk thru the shops in downtown. As we left my daughters loft apartment our five children walked ahead of me. I remember smiling as they talked and laughed with one another, the older three sweeping the younger one's along with them. I remember smiling because that was a such hard year and heading into Christmas I held a sense of dread in my heart, in some ways we all did. Christmas would bring some memories we knew were going to sting. Katy had gotten engaged at Christmas the year before, and what was such joy then was now just a place of loss and ache, and that was only one piece of what lay heavy in all of our hearts.
As we wandered in and out of the shops I found myself trying to image how the month would unfold, and how Christmas would be, ultimately how would we all "be" moving forward, would it ever feel joyous again.
Standing in one of the shops we saw a sign that said, "God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine."
Katy, Allison and Steve looked at me and said, "Mom, we need this."
I remember the tears pooling in my eyes. It was an odd moment of connection and solidarity.
We all chipped in and bought it.
That year it became the centerpiece on our Christmas mantel, replacing the old wreath that had traditionally marked our fireplace. We purchased new accents for the mantel garland and began something new.
Today as I was talking with my friend on the phone I found myself sharing with her that I am just so grateful every day for the goodness that once again is marking our days. As we spoke I glanced up at that sign, still on our mantel, and recalled the story of buying it that cold wintry evening. It has been two years and today my eyes were tearful again as I looked at the words.
Today that sign is reminder of truth that we have felt and known over the past year and that we are enjoying deeply today.
I had lost my imagination for what could be. But God never loses His imagination for us, He is able to do immeasurably more that we can ask or imagine. What a good thing, especially when our imagination shrinks down to something very small.
If you are in need of some imagination I would love to lend you some hope, and invite you to risk believing that more will come again for you too.