Dancing in the Ruin


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven …

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

There have been seasons when the circumstances of my life ebbed and flowed with the lyricism and grace of a well-rehearsed waltz. At other times the emotions of giddy happiness invited me to join in the rhythmic whirl and twirl of a fast-paced jive or lindy-hop. (Yes, I’ve been watching Dancing with the Stars this season!) But the dirge of grief and heartbreak have also overwhelmed my soul; so much so that the music of my heart ceased, making no space for dance or laughter.

In verse 4 of Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon reminds us that there will be seasons throughout our lives when we experience overwhelming grief and sorrow, and other times when we experience laughter and dance. Each has its place and purpose of teaching, training, molding, and shaping.

I am encouraged that all of these seasons of life find their place on the pages of God’s Word. We can find comfort in knowing that God plans and prepares us for the seasons and shares wisdom from His Word for each occasion.

God’s Word says …

Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord had done great things for them.”  –Psalm 126:2

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”  –Psalm 42:3

You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?  –Psalm 56:8

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.  –Psalm 30:5

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!  –Psalm 149:3

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.  –Psalm 30:11

The near decade from 2000-2009 marked some of the happiest and most joyous days of my life. Alex and I were settled in our marriage and within those years we had the three most beautiful children ever born! (I’m biased, I know.) I am an only child, so filling our home with the sights and sounds of new life gave me great joy. Those years brimmed with laughter, song, and dance.

In 2009, however, my dancing came to a sudden halt. That summer, after doing extensive testing on our daughter, Leanna, we discovered she had a significant cognitive disability that would hinder her development. This deficit would make learning a challenge and would change the course of her life.

As a mother, I felt the pangs of guilt, grief, and loss. During this season of mourning and grief, the laughter and dancing ceased. Not altogether, but the cloud of heartbreak from knowing how difficult life would be for her cast a dark shadow over our home as we processed through this time.

Leanna’s disability wasn’t a short-term circumstance; it was going to be a life-long reality. This season would not change. The topography of our life would be forever different. Many of the dreams I once had for my daughter would be eclipsed, some completely altered. Once upon a time, our lives had unfolded in the shimmering light of a picturesque backdrop, but now the difficulties ahead made our surroundings muddled and messy. In the midst of the ruin, I wondered when and if the laughter and dancing would return?

It was during this time that I really began understanding the character of God. I began living in the reality of who He was in the midst of our season and in that I found much comfort. I knew that I did not want to go through life void of joy, laughter, and dancing. I love to dance! But how would I learn to dance and laugh in our new reality?

My heart learned early on in this season that God doesn’t want us to just have moments of joy; He wants us to have joy in the midst of our moments.

I know many of you have a similar struggle. Maybe you don’t have a child with a disability or perhaps you do. Maybe your lasting season is a health issue, a relationship struggle, infertility, miscarriage, or a terminal diagnosis.

During these hard, lasting seasons, how can we find the joy, peace, and strength to laugh and dance again?

Here’s what I’ve learned these last eight years. The seasons themselves don’t cause us to laugh with joy or dance with delight. Only God and His Spirit within us can do that. Christ in us—that is where the possibility and hope of laughter and dance reside. Joy and laughter and dancing aren’t based on circumstance, but rather on who God is.

My joy is deeper, my laughter is stronger, and my dancing is more delightful because I have now experienced intense loss, bottles of tears, and deep, heart-wrenching despair. One thing I know is that the difficult seasons make our times of joy, laughter, and dancing more memorable and meaningful. And according to Psalm 30:11 our joy often springs forth from intense the weeping.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.  –Psalm 30:11

The imperfections of life, which I once viewed as ruin, became the part of our lives that drew us closer and a family, strengthened our faith, and enabled us to see and experience God in deeper ways. Never again will our seasons be “perfect,” but we have learned to dance, to laugh, to sing, to grieve and mourn through the lens of God’s abundant love, joy, and peace.

I am grateful for the gifts of grief and mourning. My heart is filled with gratitude because God has taught me that the messy mud puddles of life aren’t mistakes. They don’t destroy us or ruin our plans, hopes, and dreams. The dark gray periods of mourning make the color-filled journeys of joy pop and burst forth with life and laughter.

What about you? In what season are you right now? Do you feel that your season is one of ruin? Is yours a lasting season or a passing season? Will you choose to embrace God in the midst of your journey so that you can experience every facet of His grace in your season?

The Psalmists says it perfectly in chapter 43.

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

There are times of mourning, grief, and despair, but the hope and assurance of God our exceeding joy empowers us to dance in the ruin and laugh once again.

With grace & gratitude,


To read more from Jacqueline, visit her blog, jacquelineheider.com

©2017 Jacqueline, jacquelineheider.com