In May 2012, a video of an outdoor wedding started showing up in my Facebook feed. Bridesmaids bearing flowers and wearing cowgirl boots, young families juggling children, ladies turning around to find a glimpse of the bride. She came down the aisle—in her own cowgirl boots—while leaning on her daddy’s arm. Just like any other wedding. Except for maybe the cowgirl boots.
But there was something different. A few years earlier, her groom had survived a car accident—barely, and after months in the hospital, he reemerged into normal life anything but normal. Their new reality included his severe brain injury that never took a break and therapy that never seemed to be enough. Even at their wedding ceremony, it took the bride and a groomsman to help the groom up on his feet.
Ian and Larissa’s wedding video, produced by Desiring God, has been viewed over 1 million times. But a common drawback of viral videos held true for this one, too: you can’t tell the whole story in 9 minutes.
So Larissa wrote it down.
Finding Riches in the Heartache
Throughout the pages of Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, Larissa writes with a share-all honesty about the days and years after Ian’s car accident. It would not be a typical marriage. Not normal. Not what they had thought. She shares her fears and doubts and the difficult things she saw in the situation and in her own heart.
“Guilt drifted in that winter, its cold weight pushing beneath my bedroom door. As its fingers stretched up off the floor and into the air of my room, it told me that Ian needed more, deserved more than I could give…If these thoughts were meant to motivate me, all they really did was leave me with an ever-present sadness that I would never be enough. There would always be something more I should have done.”
In all the fear and grief and questions, she writes of what she has learned and is still learning. She shares how God has led and provided for them, but also comforted them—comforted her. Her writing draws us in, inviting us into her heartache but also giving us sight of her hope. Not her hope in therapies or doctors or new medications, but a steadfast hope that the God who brought her and Ian together will keep them together, too. And will be with them through all of it.
“We had already chosen to make our story public by sharing the details on the blog and making ourselves vulnerable…We knew things were happening because of it, that God was doing things we couldn’t see. Yet then, and now, I didn’t realize that God wasn’t using our lives at the cost of His personal ministry to us. Gently, even as my father here would do, He was providing care to us—to me—and I was just overlooking it…I let myself focus on the giving up, the sacrificing, and didn’t see that God 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.”
Open and Honest Glimpses
Eight Twenty Eight is an engaging read, moving back and forth between Ian and Larissa’s past, present, and thoughts about the future. Larissa writes so openly and honestly, and we see glimpses of the man Ian still is. Before the first chapter, Ian included a short note to those of us who read about his life.
“Trust God. He’s bigger than your story. He’s bigger than ours.”