Ian and Larissa were like many college-age young couples, getting to know each other as friends, moving on to dating seriously, heading toward probable engagement. But then the unforeseen and unthinkable happened: Ian was in a car accident, receiving various injuries, but worst of all, damage to his brain. Larissa details their story from first meeting to eventual marriage, with the accident and all that it involved inbetween. Ian has come a long way but is still not fully recovered, so Larissa had to face whether her love was enough to handle being the wife of a man with serious needs. She’s fairly transparent about the struggle and difficulties involved, but both she and Ian have experienced God’s grace in their relationships with Him and each other.
I think I first became aware of their story through an article on the Desiring God Web site. and saw this video:
Just a few quotes from the book:
It’s good to have hope as long as we build the foundation correctly. This was a delicate balance for my young heart to make, believing that God could heal Ian, but knowing it wasn’t guaranteed. But I needed to learn God’s promises, trust that He would remain faithful, without knowing what His faithfulness would exactly look like. And I had to learn these things quickly, because fear was chasing closely behind e and constantly nipping at my heels.
I tried to dig myself into the Bible on my good days, and bury myself in Spurgeon on the bad ones. Because on the bad days, I simply couldn’t understand a God who was okay with shunts and feeding tubes, so I read the words of those who had Him more figured out than I did.
Yet I let myself focus on the giving up, the sacrificing, and didn’t see that Gd was caring for me as well. He had storehouses of riches at His feet if only I would see them, if only I would reach out and touch His garment. He wasn’t asking me to keep giving and giving and choosing the uncomfortable life of vulnerability without prefacing it with grace.
While waiting, we know, is a good thing — like the nine-month anticipation God creates inside the womb — the living of it is long and impatient. We were each being forced to learn that it’s inside the womb of waiting where beauty and character grows.
Isn’t this what I have been called to? This life of dependency on the One who made me? This life that doesn’t make me comfortable, because the discomfort is exactly what I need to make heaven more irresistible?
The title Eight Twenty Eight comes from three factors: Ian’s father, who developed a brain tumor and passed away during this time, had a birthday on 8/28; their wedding was on 8/28, and Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Besides letting God’s grace shine through their journey, another aspect of the book that Larissa might not have had in mind is giving us a window inside the mind of a person whose loved one is severely injured. For instance, she wanted to be with Ian as much as possible, even moving in with his family to be part of his therapy. When she went anywhere else, her thoughts and heart were back with him. She writes of attending a conference after his injury that they had previously attended together, and how hard it was to be in such a setting without him. Her world basically shrunk to his room and whoever else was there. I think these things help us when we have friends going through similar trials, to understand some of what they’re thinking and to avoid well-meant but glib advice.
All in all, my heart was encouraged and blessed reading the truth and grace they experienced on this journey.
(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)