Updated: Jan 7, 2020
By Charity Rios
God's Brave Women - Charity's Story
It should have been the worst Christmas, only 2 months after my Dad committed suicide.
I expected to turn around and see his orange stocking cap or hear his off-key voice unashamedly bellowing “Joy to the World” at the Christmas Eve service. We’d gather around the family Advent wreath as he read Scripture passages.
Before my Dad died, I had been going with a group from my church every Saturday morning to spread love and give Bible lessons to kids living in low-income housing.
“Let’s buy all the kids clothes for Christmas!” Sarah, my friend who had been going with me on Saturdays, suggested. Never one to say no to a slightly outrageous but clearly God inspired plan, I was in. Sarah and I sought donations from our friends, and we went to Old Navy for the biggest shopping spree of our lives. Mountains of clothes filled Sarah’s living room, and we devoted a whole day to sorting and wrapping.
I witnessed 150 kids’ faces smile with the hope as they were remembered by a Father God who loves them perfectly. Kids, many of whom didn’t know their fathers, experienced the love of their perfect Father.
"I was the fatherless serving the fatherless. Handing out packages of brightly colored hope to remind us there is a thrill of hope to discover this season. His name is Jesus."
I was the fatherless serving the fatherless. Handing out packages of brightly colored hope to remind us there is a thrill of hope to discover this season. His name is Jesus. He came and made a way for us to be in communion with the Perfect Father. We are no longer called orphans but Sons and Daughters of a most High King.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." -Romans 8:15 (NIV)
I may have been the one giving the gift, but I was the one who received the greatest gift… hope in a season where I desperately needed it. For the believer, Christmas isn’t about receiving. It’s about giving away the gift we have freely been given – hope through the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World.
It was here where I learned one of the deepest mysteries of grief – how serving another can bring the comfort our hearts desire.
I had experienced the tiniest fragment of what Christ modeled on the cross. In His moment of deep anguish and grief, when the weight of the world’s pain and sin had been put upon Him, He looked down. Thinking about His mother, whose torment in watching her son be tortured and crucified must have been unparalleled to other witnesses, Jesus thought of her needs and said to John, “Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:27 NIV)
It should have been the worst Christmas, right after losing my first baby to miscarriage.
Barely done bleeding, I packed up for a trip to see family, heartbreak and unfulfilled dreams tucked between packages and parkas. I didn’t talk about our sweet baby, I was still too shocked to begin unpacking the delicate pieces of unexpected loss and broken dreams.
I don’t remember much about that Christmas suspended between numb and raw, waiting for my hormones to stabilize. But I remember her. She was a family member who had been through miscarriage before. I remember her hug and compassion. I don’t remember the words, but I’ll never forget her friendship to me. As she extended a hand, I began to grieve the baby I would never meet until heaven. My baby I so desperately longed to fill my belly on Christmas. I remember her sisterhood as she shared my tears, telling me she understood. She gave me a safe place to feel the tumult of grief, questions and “why’s!” without prescribed answers or a rush to fix me. She gave me her presence and it was the Christmas present I didn’t know to ask for.
Once again, I learned a deep mystery of grief. Relief can come when our hearts are safe and vulnerable in the presence of a friend who says, “I understand, and I’m here for you.”
It should have been the worst Christmas, less than 2 weeks after I watched my dear friend and young mother of 4 have a heart attack.
We gathered, friends and family in a hospital waiting room, as my friend, Lauri, lay in the ICU. No one knew what to say, what to think, even how to pray. We kneeled, praying, crying mostly. Lauri’s mother walked into the room and a holy fire fell as she petitioned for resurrection, declared the faithfulness of the God of “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” and called upon Immanuel, the One who was and is and is to come.
Immanuel, He was with us. His resurrection life was within Lauri.
My phone dinged just a few weeks after the heart attack while I unloaded the dishwasher. I reached for the phone and read the text from Lauri. She was still in the hospital recovering from her heart attack. She said she had a dream about me making scones with her, and she needed me to come visit her asap.
Shrieking, mouth wide with wonder and awe, I clutched the top dishwasher rack to support my bent over sobs of rejoicing. I breathed in the gospel anew.
My beautiful friend who experienced medical “sudden death,” walked out of the ICU mentally and physically strong. Lauri often says, “in the Kingdom of God, there is no death without resurrection.”
This is the greatest mystery of grief. When we are in the Kingdom of God, from of a season of torment and pain, through the power of the gospel, Resurrection will come.
"This is the greatest mystery of grief. When we are in the Kingdom of God, from of a season of torment and pain, through the power of the gospel, Resurrection will come."
The One who came, the One who was born into this tired and turbulent world. The Savior of the World, given nothing more than an animal trough to rest in. Little could the world imagine what power lay in a tucked away stable.
There can be no Christmas without Jesus, the Holy One. Oh come and bring your hurting heart to Him. He has heard your whispers.
Lay down your grief at the feet of the One who has already born it upon Himself and has made a way for you to be born again.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:4 ESV)
There is a resurrection waiting for you, dear one… when we come to Jesus.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
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Charity is a boy momma to 3 of the wildest and squishiest sets of dimpled cheeks. Most days you can find her top knottin’ it, while prayin’, “Dear Jesus help me not to mess these little lives up.” The power of the gospel is her melody and unleashing women from captives into warriors is her passion. In between totin’ potties and rollin’ in the mini, Charity shares heartfelt and hilarious reflections on discovering hope after tragedy, uncovering joy in the mayhem and how connecting with Jesus will reignite a weary heart. She would love to send you her FREE TRUTH DECLARATION to overcome the enemy's lies with the truth. FIND IT HERE! You can also follow along on Instagram @claritywithcharity, Pinterest and her website ClaritywithCharity.com.