Q & A Tuesday Wrap-Up: Week Four

 

There are a lot of words in this wrap-up — and most of them are from all of you!DSC00924

What a rich conversation we’ve had this week! Thank you all for your insights and your articulate, kind responses to me and to one another. Thank you for helping us all to wrestle well with the question of ‘tears.’ Yes, yes. There is room for our tears in the body of Christ, even though many of us have felt them to be unwelcome in particular corners of that body. The words you’ve shared, both in link-ups and in the comments section, have added so much liveliness and depth to living this particular question. I am grateful.

One of the earliest link-ups this week was breathtakingly beautiful, with reminders that life lived on planet earth is only an introduction to the life that is to come. She wrote: “I love crawling close in hospital beds and into the stories with their glimpses of the main stage, and inviting the next chapter into the room. It’s painful and gorgeous all at once. It’s the most beautiful thing my soul has ever felt. We are in the lobby. We have only caught a glimpse of  beauty.” I encourage you to read the entire post.

Several posts this week were written in poetic, prayerful format, asking the church to be more open to letting the tears flow freely and unashamedly. We were encouraged to:

Make room in our own woundedness to walk the road with others who are weak and in pain. Be a sanctuary for the seeking, the saved and those sick in body, mind or heart. 

Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with all who rejoice. Lift and uphold each other in prayer. Come alongside and be Christ’s ambassadors in caring for all in need.

Another faithful friend wrote a story of freedom, of permission to be all of who she is in the presence of God:

my younger self
was never known to cry
perhaps it was scolded out of me
having too often heard
“I’ll give you something to cry about”

but my God gave me tears
when I surrendered to Him
my harsh and stoney heart

 now I am known
as a woman who weeps
long and deep tears 
born of joy, pain, awe 
and intercession

A regular contributor chose to offer a poetic reflection on both life and scripture in response to this question about tears:

The woman brought her tears,
rained them on our Lord’s
dusty feet. The body of Christ knows
(though we have forgotten)
the fellowship of tears.

And a regular member of the conversation joined her blog for the first time this week, also writing her thoughts in poetry:

While some have been tears
of deep grief,
sometimes tears tell me
it’s time to
stop
pay attention
see what God has for me.

Although not always readily apparent,
the time spent paying attention
until it becomes clear
is time
well-spent.

This beautiful and poignant post came from the deep wells of personal pain and loss and speaks to the hard but necessary truth that we don’t always know where our tears will lead, how our sorrow will be redeemed:

It will be days, months, maybe years, to process what God has done and to see the fruits from the passing of this small seed.
New life is coming, even from this death, and there will be more to write.
Leah has her own story to tell, but I will share some of the precious words she said to me,
“Mom, we will never be the same.  He taught us so much.”

His name was Garrison Isaac.

You know ‘Isaac’ means ‘laughter’–and he is–laughing, I know.  
With Jesus.

A really important corrective came from this once-Catholic-maybe-still-Catholic writer who reminded those of us with conservative/evangelical/Protestant stories that there are other stories about tears, too:

Well, Catholicism has no problems with tears. Repentance is regular and necessary and tears are often part of that. Life is accepted as being full of pain so there will often be tears. There isn’t any pressure on believers to be joyful. So when I came across this sense of failure over feeling unhappy or depressed or sad I was puzzled.

Tears have accompanied deep revelations of sinfulness and forgiveness. . . 

Perhaps there should be some tears shed for the harm that has been done to the church by our disunity.

And the comments section this week simply soared, with heart-to-heart connections and beautiful words. A few of my favorites:

“He doesn’t let a single tear go to waste.
And the day is coming when He will dry each one.
Now that’s a promise to hold on to.”

About bad theology in the church:

“Once, not long after my miscarriage, I was told (taught, actually) that–if we’re not joyful–we make God the Father look bad. I rejected that idea in my spirit immediately, but I still feel a little angry when I think about it. We can be so careless w/ one another.”

A couple of deeply personal stories about the power of Holy Spirit tears:

“My cancer is well advanced in my bones, but I have made the commitment to sing in the choir the whole sesaon. I am pretty much the bass section. 2 weeks ago the anthem was “Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world.” The verses always start out the with basses belting out “I want to meet my Jesus,” or some variant on that theme. It was tough going for me. I did it, then went back to my seat and put my head down and started bawling while someone in the congregation stood up and thanked the choir for their spirited anthem. It was all good. These tears are gifts from God.”

A great reminder of a famous movie quote:

“Do you remember the line in “Steel Magnolias”? “My favorite emotion is laughter through tears” I’ve always loved that line.”

A profound question:

“Can I grieve my way back to owning tears? For so, so long, I had no safe place–and it seems I’ve forgotten how.”

Two reminders that early childhood lessons can sometimes trip us up as adults:

“Somewhere I picked up the idea that they [tears] are often manipulative or embarrassing, and I cringe now remembering ways I have dismissed the tears of others.”

“I decided as a young child, that my sister would use her tears to manipulate my parents whenever she was getting in trouble, and I vowed I would never do that.”

Testimonies of gratitude for the freedom to accept tears, those of others and our own:

“God has been slowly chipping away and breaking down the walls around my heart and in the last two years I cried more than my whole life. (I am 59) He weeps with us and gives us comfort.”

“A book that was instrumental in the process for me was, ‘The Wall Around Your Heart’ by Mary de Muth. I can highly recommend it. This breaking down in order to rebuild can feel like a strange unravelling where ground shifts beneath our feet and all seems uncertain.”

“I do feel I am doing this not only for me but for the precious people who are coming along behind me and I am grateful the opportunity to keep growing. Love the community here.”

A beautiful pledge to commit to openness and break the family pattern:

“but somehow to me, because of their stoicism, it felt like trusting God meant I didn’t feel the depth of the pain. I just had a visit with my only living Aunt last night who was only 5 years older than me. We wept together on the phone, sharing the sharing the pain of this approach – my grandmother not talking to her about my Grandfather (her dad) dying and my parents not talking to me about how i felt about the loss of my two siblings when I was a child. these are kind people who loved us, but they did as they had learned – but at the time, it seemed to us like we were to be brave and soldier on. by the time i could have talked to my mom about this, she got sick and soon died thereafter. I am determined to be open about my journey.”

And these words, from someone new to the conversation – well, they rang true in places deep and dark:

“Once when I was on a panel with other moms, discussing how women can minister to one another, I said, “Sometimes the greatest gift is to have someone cry with me.” Indeed, aren’t we uncomfortable with tears often, quickly sniffling and stuffing them away in our sinuses. I hold firmly to the thought that tears are a gift, and a gift to be shared with those who choose to walk with us. To have another share a time of tears is beautiful, to let them flow freely, not holding back, is a source of healing. One time when I had a blood test for inflammation, my sedimentation rate was off the charts. Later in the day a dear friend and I shared a precious time of talking and crying together. For some reason I had another blood test the next day. The inflammation was within normal limits. Shared tears can be healing indeed! On the other hand, Joy hold its own in the healing arena. I have had people ask me how I could possibly be so joy-filled when I experience such great pain. The answer, of course, is Jesus. The constant Joy is another gift, not manufactured by me, but given to me by a God who sees and loves deeply. The Joy and Tears are compatible, not mutually exclusive. They come together, share the same heart. I fully believe we can be shedding tears of sadness or pain and yet walk in Joy in the same moment.”

Another new ‘talker’ expressed regret and frustration with the ‘cheerfulness’ of too many church gatherings and how that can shut people out:

“I too could take the “good Cheer” better if we also were allowed to let the cracks show. That vulnerability is something most people just don’t want to face, it is too real, I guess.”

And almost immediately, there was this good word, reminding us all that we need people in our lives who know us, all of us, and who love us anyhow!

“I hope you have a “posse.” Through one of the hardest ministry hurts we experienced, i had four friend who knew the all of the story. they saved my sanity – my life.”

And I wonder how many of us can empathize with these words of realization, this glimpse into the full mystery of our own hearts:

“I have recently been surprised by my tears over something that I thought had been dealt with years ago, and realised it was because God was bringing healing to an area of my heart, of which I had been completely unaware! Which makes me wonder how much more of my heart is unknown to me…”

And to wrap up this week’s wrap-up, this lovely story of grace re-discovered through the healing, releasing power of tears:

“The worst period of my life was marked by a state of denial that refused to accept I was struggling. I used a false religion of acceptance (false because I was actually angry, resentful and playing the long suffering pious martyr) that hardened my heart and for a long time no tears fell. I was often ill and now it seems to me that these things were linked. Stress built up inside me and when not aknowledged and released as tears it manifested in other physical ways. (I do not believe that this explains most illnesses btw!) It was this experience that led me to believe that in some ways I was saved by grief. Mourning my sister’s sudden death paved the way for mourning unaccepted losses. Tears allowed more tears and joy came in the morning.”

A  HUGE thank-you from me to all of you for your generous gift of time, thought, and words. We all richer for the connections made in this space.

 

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Comments

  1. those lines in the ‘wrap up of the wrap up’ were powerful, Diana.
    Thank you again, for hostessing this conversation.

  2. it is a wonder
    the way you weave he loosed ends
    making the whole more than
    the sum of the parts

    thank you, for you, Diana

  3. Gwen Acres says:

    “Being moved to tears”… I have found profound music, beauty, kindness, the Holy Spirit, all able to move me to this place. Not just grief and pain but also the power of all that is good. Those tears come from our depths too. I have shed both.

    • There you are, Gwen! I’ve been missing you this week. Yes, yes! Beauty and goodness frequently move me to tears, too. Thanks for adding that important piece to this week’s puzzle.

  4. Wonderful summing up of a great conversation here in your corner of the world. I agree with the comment above, thanks for hostessing us.

    Surely it is a precious subject and the variety of responses shows the rich texture of this community. It’s so good to listen to one another and see the bigger issues represented with these questions and answers. thanks!

  5. I was reminded of your post here when I read this poem by Joy Crowley this morning; I hesitate to post it here due to copyright laws but it seems so fitting:

    #5. Hospitality –

    I asked Love to help me
    greet the stranger in myself.
    I knew how to open my door to the world
    and greet everyone out there as friend
    but I didn’t have any kind of welcome
    for the impoverished one within.
    She was the weakness I could’t acknowledge.
    She was the pain I didn’t allow.
    She was the leper I tried to cast out of the city,
    the one who cried at night in lonely places.
    I thought that if I let her in
    she’d cause me no end of trouble,
    and I was afraid.

    But Love helped me to prepare a feast.
    We set the table, Love and I,
    and then I did it,
    I invited my stranger.
    “Answer the door,” said Love.
    “You have nothing to fear.”

    She came in slowly.
    I put my arms around her
    and embraced her in her rags
    and we wept together for the years of separation.
    I sat my stranger at the head of the table,
    gave her the best of food and wine
    and, claiming her as my own,
    began to introduce her to my friends.
    “But who shall I say she is?”
    I whispered to Love.
    “I can’t call her a stranger now.”
    Love smiled and said, “Don’t you know?
    She is the Christ.”