Last week, I found myself gasping for breath as I wept. Deep and heavy and messy mourning, like something died. Like something died a long time ago, but I didn’t grieve… Like, I never allowed myself to grieve.
Never, in a million years, did I expect the tears to come.
I’m alright, I thought. I just need a little fresh air, a nap, maybe a podcast or something, I said, thinking that would lift my spirits after a series of off-days last week.
But as I sat listening to the downpour outside my window that day, I realized for the first time in a long time, it was so much deeper than that. It’s as if I had been running so hard and so fast from something, for so long, and on that dark and rainy day, it – finally – all caught up with me.
You could hear my cries down the hallway.
As the immensity of the tears came on, my mind was racing as Kleenex pooled at my feet — Why on earth was I was crying? I honestly had no idea.
God’s response: “My child, why are you not crying?”
In the last year, both of my newly divorced parents have remarried, leaving a family you might have once been envious of, mangled and fractured, and my siblings left to choose sides like kickball teams, except without the cool custom team t-shirts. It seems my siblings and I, now spend a great deal of time wading through distance and dysfunction in order to rewrite what it means to be family again, just the three of us this time. And it’s so much harder than I thought.
Not only that, in the last year, I’ve had a miscarriage, and a baby sister, I’ve moved out-of-state, and my husband has lost not one, but two jobs. And, #FunFact: I’ve even spent 1 out of every 6 days this last year, in a different country.
It’s been a lot — It all has been.
But this must be the way God intended for it to be — right?
There’s no better place to be than His will, I’ve probably said.
…All while stuffing down my questions and exhaustion, with enough belief to keep me running from how I feel, in the name of faith.
It seems strange to say that – running from how I feel in the name of faith – but I realize now that’s what I’ve been doing. In some ways, it’s what I was taught!
I was raised with the ‘because I said so’ mentality. The if-your-father-says-something-you-do-it, no-questions-asked-or-you’re-being-disobedient, instilled into me at a very young age.
…And somewhere down the line, I, unknowingly, began believing the same was expected from God.
Falsely believing, that having faith meant it didn’t matter how I feel. That if I truly believed God had my best interest at hand, than I should trust Him — no buts about it.
And I did Trust Him! So much.
…that is, until my shrieking sobs couldn’t be held in anymore. Until every hurt I had been stuffing down in the name of faith, seemed to erupt with a fury on that dark and rainy day last week.
Through the process, (I not only went through a concerning amount of kleenex) but I learned something profound.
I’d been getting something so tragically wrong about the God I thought I knew so well: He actually cares.
“My Child, I admire your faith— how relentless you’ve been to follow wherever I lead and no matter what happens,” it’s as if God said, “…but you forgot one thing. You forgot to tell me how you feel.”
Then it got personal. (with Jesus things always get personal.)
“I wish you would tell me how those words still haunt you, how the betrayal of that friendship still makes you cry. I know you fear your father’s new daughter will replace you, and that I’ll never let you carry another child of your own again…
“My Child, I want you to tell me everything — You don’t have to run from your feelings in the name of faith, anymore,” God said.
(It makes me cry even as I type. )
In Matthew 11:27-28 it says, Jesus had been talking to a group of people when all of a sudden, His tone changed entirely.
Tenderly this time, He said these words, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? [Tell Me how you feel.] Come to me. [ I care.] Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. [I can help it not hurt anymore.]”
God knows the feelings you’ve been stuffing down in the name of faith — the times you took God at His word all while it broke your heart, and the times He told you ‘no’ (and you wanted to unravel) but instead, you trusted God had your best interest, through your tears. — But did you tell Me how you feel? God is asking.
Contrary to popular christian belief, we are not soldiers getting our marching orders, or a child who will be scolded for back talking. Do what I say, no buts about it. On the contrary, Jesus is tenderly inviting us to come to Him today, to come to Him with our messiest, most undone, even turbulent, feelings.
The only thing holding us back might be what we’ve come to (falsely) believe looks like faith.
Tell me how you feel, I care. Get away with Me, I can help it not hurt anymore…
Since (unexpectedly) crying out to God last week, I now feel a lightness, and a stillness that I’m deeply grateful for. No longer is everything whirling around me, and it’s as if I can finally catch my breath. Not running anymore will do that for you, I suppose.
But here’s the takeaway: you can do the same.
In His Presence you can regain your footing, you can trade your restlessness and take hold of happiness once again. You don’t need to take another walk around the block, or listen to (yet another) podcast (though I love them, I do. — shout out to my boy, T.D.) Though some fresh air and a good nights sleep could be helpful, the effects would only be momentary.
Instead, maybe, what your soul has been screaming out for, is for you to – finally – stop running. To stop acting like that hurt didn’t happen, like those words didn’t cut you so deep the thought of it could make you cry. That the death of that loved one, that relationship, that dream that slipped away, doesn’t still bring you to your knees and make you cross-examine your faith.
And instead, let it catch up with you. Let the mourning and the rage and the questions wash over you, let it take your breath away. Let your cries echo down the hallway as the Kleenex pool at your feet.
Because here’s what you will find: Jesus will speak tenderly to you.
He’s reaching for your hand, right now, and inviting you to have an honest conversation with Him today. To finally, after all this time, tell Him how you feel.
Because He cares.
You don’t have to run from your feelings in the name of faith, anymore.
// 52 weeks to write, 33 more to go. //