Sabbath tears

Photo: Ron Clifton, Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo: Ron Clifton, Flickr via Creative Commons

 

When I first started going to church at fifteen years old, it was to a little congregation in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The interesting thing about the location was that it was equidistant from three larger towns, so the people who came were from all three areas. Within the relatively small gathering each week was a disproportionate number of teenagers, many attending sans parents or family. We were a ragtag bunch of spiritual orphans landing somewhat haphazardly into this small town church family.

Three of the adults in the church banded together to sort of take us under their wings. They cared for us like we were their own, and for some of us were the first healthy parental figures we’d ever had. One of the women had a tendency to cry, a lot. Like, a whole lot. It was a sort of joke among us how soon she would begin crying each time the group met. At that stage of my life I was a level of depressed that left me numb most of the time, and I remember praying often for sensitivity like hers. I couldn’t imagine having such strong empathy that another’s pain might pierce through the fog over my own soul and allow me to weep for them.

Well ask and you shall receive. As I have grown older, found healing, and dealt with some of my personal demons I’ve found a wellspring of tears buried deep inside. By the time I was leading a youth group of my own, my girls were teasing me about how often I cry. Movies. Songs. Talking about Jesus. Seeing someone else cry. Pretty much anything can do it.

I’ve also found the freedom to feel my own pain, sorrow, grief. Those tears come much more readily these days as well. I’ve cried many of them over the past week, weeping over broken spaces in my own life. I’ve seen my sharp edges lash out at others, heard a swirl of lies I can’t shake in my mind, felt the broken-heartedness of being so terribly incomplete. Today as we sang songs about God and ourselves in church, I shed tears of desperation and of hope. Desperation because I can’t seem to find the limit to my capacity to break things, even things I love. Hope because for some reason Jesus doesn’t give up on me.

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