Friday, October 21, 2016

pay attention to what makes you cry



Nearly a decade ago I interviewed for a job. I sorta wanted it; more, I wanted to escape the one I was in. I remember being confused and exhausted by my seeming loss of direction. Instead of becoming more of who I was, my twenties felt mostly like I was being asked to let go of important parts of myself.

After the interview, I sat in my car and cried, the built up emotions flowing out through tears.

That weekend, over the phone, I told my mom about the interview and the post-interview tears. She said, you always were a cry-er, to which I took offense at first. I didn't cry that much, I probably said back to her, not wanting to be known as whiney or weak. But underneath, it felt reassuring to know that my mother saw my emotions, even when I might have thought I did a good job at hiding them. And I started to think of times I remembered crying: from the discomfort of hearing my sisters fight about wearing each other's clothes to school. The shame of my best friend telling me my wrists were fat. (Wrists can't be fat, my mom had assured me.) The loneliness and uncertainty of my senior year of high school.

***

Pay attention to what makes you cry, I heard someone say recently. Here is what has made me cry this week: finding that a new friend I was connecting with over email with a new friend went to the same college and majored in the same course of study as I did. The desire to write. Trying to fit something in my car all by myself and it not working. Entering my church around 5:30pm, the light slanted through the windows and the cool stillness and the way I always feel God's presence there, always. Disappointment, shame, frustration, thankfulness, hope, exhaustion. Pay attention because there is information there, is what she was saying. Crying tells us about our hearts, what state they're in and what they want.

Tears can drain us, but they can also lead us to springs, a psalmist says.

***

Tears can take me two ways: further into the problem - whether that be by obsession or avoidance - or closer to God. I remember how Jesus himself (image of the invisible God) cried with a crowd sobbing over the death of their friend. And I remember a woman who, it is said, stood behind Jesus and, weeping, wet Jesus' feet with her tears. Maybe she was already known for her shameful public demonstrations (she was a prostitute), so that makes me wonder what the scene was like and how I would have responded if I'd been there. Likely, I would have been repulsed by her tears, like most other guests. But Jesus calls her weeping faith - the way she let the tears fall, didn't hold back, allowed her feelings to be what they were and lead her to Jesus.

Your faith has saved you; go in peace.


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