Fireworks amaze me.
I am always impressed by the intensity of the blasts, the beauty that can be created out of what seems to be nothing more than ashes, and the effect that light has on a dark, dark night.
My kids and I didn’t always go to July 4th celebrations. For many years, I was holding onto the hope that it would be a family event. But it wasn’t that easy in our home. For my husband, still dealing with his time at war, fireworks shows and crowds weren’t something he looked forward to or ever wanted to attend. Fireworks, designed to remind us of the explosions and the battles once fought for our freedoms, still bring back memories and emotions of the real battles he has endured.
My idea, the whole family with eyes to the sky bursting with color, so simple and seemingly trivial, and yet, it was a symbol of so much more for me. All the things I hoped to do “when the war recovery was over” piled high in my mind. Every year when another July passed by it was just a reminder that things were not how they were supposed to be; that they were not what I expected. For many years, when our children were young, I waited. I thought that maybe someday, someday soon, the war would finally be behind us and the first fireworks show for our littles could be experienced as a family. But years went on (and on) and it became clear that this was not something that was going to happen.
The first time I took our kids to see the fireworks without my husband, I was very conflicted. The kids sitting next to me, oohing and awing over the bright lights, were precious. I knew right away that I had made the best choice. We were making memories and having fun. But it was also very difficult. I know for some it might seem insignificant, but watching them enjoy this simple tradition without their dad symbolized everything that wasn’t yet healed in his heart and our home since his return from the war. All the dreams that we’ve had to reevaluate, let go of and grieve, flashed before my eyes as the sky was alight.
It was a very emotional time.
Taking that step to let go of a dream, it felt like a death of some kind, like a failure, like I was giving up and into the captivity of PTSD and grief and the loss of everything I hoped our future would be.
I held onto that (and other) dreams for so long, believing that holding tight to them was the only thing that would keep us from losing everything we had once hoped for.
And yet, I saw as little eyes were as round as saucers and enjoying the show, that letting go of those expectations and those ideas of how life would be “only if”, it was actually freedom.
That night, as the lights flashed and my tears threatened to fall, I realized that I had been seeing the whole thing backward.
Holding tight to my dream wasn’t keeping it alive, or me free. It was chaining me in, building a wall that I was beginning to not be able to see over. It was keeping me in the same stuck place. So not only was I not living a life I had once dreamed of, I wasn’t able to move onto a new dream either.
Letting go, reaching out in faith, and watching fireworks with my two littles was one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced. It didn’t change the circumstances, it didn’t all end up “okay” with daddy sitting and watching with us, but it unstuck me from looking back, from living in the “if only”.
It set me free.
It set our family free to do many other fun and memorable things that we would never have had the ability to do had we been focused on forcing something that was no longer a fit for our circumstances.
When I choose to move forward, the past isn’t undone, but the future is rebuilt.
And the most important point, the one thing to take away from this is only four words of what I’ve written here so far; it’s this:
reaching out in faith
By Grace, by God orchestrating events to give me strength and motivation to attend the fireworks show that I didn’t even plan to attend, I moved forward and took a step on a new path. Like Moses (Exodus 14), who only needed to reach out into the Red Sea before God began to part it, I had to reach out and trust. I didn’t know that through this action God was going to bring healing. I just knew that it was what He had placed on my path and I was supposed to do it. It wasn’t how I wanted it, or how I expected life to be, but it was good.
God was blessing me, even in the land of my affliction (Genesis 41:52).
Fireworks still amaze me even after all that I’ve seen. I am always impressed by the intensity of the blasts, the beauty that can be created out of what seems to be nothing more than ashes, and the effect that light has on a dark, dark night. In the same, and yet a much mightier way, God never ceases to amaze me with how He can accomplish what seems to be impossible, how He can make something beautiful out of what seem to be ruins, and how His light will change the look even of the darkest of nights.
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.[c]
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.