The Tears Mean I’m Alive

“Cry. Let out a wail if you have to. I am here to walk you safely away from the wreckage of your past. Your heavy heart can’t hold you back if you trust me to carry some of the weight. I will help you to whatever finish line you need to cross to feel you are enough.”

My word selected to reflect on for 2018 is “enough.” Above is a quote from a website called The Mighty. It is supportive online community for those with bipolar, suicidal ideations, and other mental health challenges that found its way to me and which gives people rising to victory in their struggles a place to tell their stories.

I remember a time in the midst of emotional emergency in 1997 when I cried out …… and found that Christ was there… were people who loved and cared for me….and they helped carry me to the place where I, too, knew that I was enough…..

Hosea 11:3-4
“But I was the one who taught you to walk, holding you up by your arms, but my people didn’t know I was the One who took care of them.
I led them along with leather cords; with ropes of love I showed them the way I lifted the yoke from their neck; I bent down to give them their food.”

In recent months I have watched as one after another crawled then stood, walked then ran with joy toward a “finish line” that was actually a “starting point”. That is the wonderful dynamic of change, of recovery, of transition…… The “beginning of the end of life as it was” will become the “end of the beginning as life as it will be.”

For some who make the journey through change there is a sudden and sweet awareness of the fact that they have crossed the line from the old life to the new life, from the bondage of the past to a future defined by freedom. They feel the last chain slip away and realize that they’ve carried them for so long that they didn’t know what it felt like to move without them. Such was the case this week with one woman whose tears of sorrow, guilt, and regret were transformed to tears of relief, joy, and gratitude to God. I celebrate with her and yet I know that the enemy has not gone very far away. He lurks and waits, as he did after Jesus resisted him in the wilderness, waiting for another more opportune moment. Temptations will continue to come at her. Her newfound strength will be tested again and again. And she will grow stronger still. And there will be more tears.

I have been collecting small bottles and various sized corks to fit their openings. I have given away a couple of them in moments when tears were abundant. They are representative of a truth that those engaged in this journey discover…… that their tears are precious. It is okay to weep tears of hurt, fear, disappointment, and frustration. God is there. It is also okay to weep tears of exhaustion, dazed wonder, relief, and incredulous surprise at having survived. God is there. And it is okay to weep tears of deliverance, consolation, renewal, thankfulness, and adoration. God is there.

In many Scriptures we see that God is moved by the tears of people…Genesis, 2 Kings, Job, Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Luke, and more.
God makes note of our tears…Psalm 56:8 -“You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?”

Revelation 21:4 promises that there will be a time when there are no more tears-
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I was talking to the father of two young women. One of them has begun cutting herself. He has been distraught over her moods and misconduct. But a counselor helped him understand that the physical pain of the cutting is a distraction, a misplaced attempt at coping, a way to divert her attention away from the emotional pain that she feels. He is trying to understand and be there for her.

A friend shared a book with our women at Titus 2 a few years ago, “Please Make Me Cry” by Cookie Rodriquez.   It is story of deliverance from addiction and a life of chaos.  I was reminded of that book as I listened to the “fearless and searching inventory” in our time together as one young woman completed Steps 4 and 5.  Her tears have been an embarrassment to her, a sign of weakness prompting apologies.  I gave her the book by Rodriquez.

There are many reasons for tears. Not all of them are sad, grievous, or painful. Somehow, I have this hope that there will still be room for tears in heaven…….tears that reflect an overflow of gratefulness to God and the capacity to be surprised by joy.Those tears will not need to be wiped away. There will not be a need to look beneath them to find the cause and seek a remedy. But we will laugh together with Jesus as our tears remind us that we are more alive than ever.

(See also “Precious Tears” post of September 10, 2017 )