paying attention to tears
I was probably in elementary school and I distinctly remember my mom stopping the music in the minivan to explain to me and my brother what moved her about the song. I didn't get it as a kid because, well, you know how kids can be. I wanted to keep listening to the music and also my mom being a real person and having real emotions was foreign to my 11 year old mind. She was my MOM. Didn't she just...live to mother?
Of course as a grown-up and now a mom myself, I'm learning the importance of being my own person and teaching my kids that I am a person first - a child of the Living God made in His image...then I am a wife and then a mother. I see my mom's reasoning for sharing her heart in that moment far more clearly as an adult. And I see the whole cycle repeating itself as I cried over a song this morning and tried to explain to my not-quite-six year old why I was crying. I watched her sort of freeze with a polite semi-smile on her face and PHYSICALLY BACK AWAY FROM ME and ask if she could keep watching her show. She told me I could go cry in my room if I wanted to finish crying.
I told her I would cry anywhere I FELT like it, thankyouverymuch.
I've not always been a reliable crier. Things that make me want to cry sometimes can't actually get me crying, so I wander around, moody, with a half-ache in my chest. Or maybe I don't feel like it's a convenient time to cry, so I tuck the tears away. Both of these have lead to hysteria and hyperventilating (not hyperbole) when I finally do cry. So I'm trying to get better. To teach myself how to have the tears and keep moving.
In her book Bread and Wine, Shauna Niequist says, “I have also long held the belief that one's tears are a guide, that when something makes you cry, it means something. If we pay attention to our tears, they'll show us something about ourselves”.
A few years ago, I started trying to do this. For example, I discovered I usually cry when children sing -- it could be terrible or wonderful, but I will still cry. Tiny little voices in a musical collective is too precious.
But here is something else I've noticed: I cry when people perform boldly and confidently in the way they are gifted, when creative expression is involved. It doesn't have to be spiritual. Excellently done displays of creativity make me bawl, and I don't even know all the reasons why. Today, when I stopped my daughter's show to share with her a group of people performing a musical number at a conference, the tears spilled over and I found myself trying to explain to her that something about this is image-of-God just bursting out.
It's a celebration and God the Creator who made this person's voice like a ballad and that person's dance like a symphony is illustrating His glory across a person who carries His image. And they are so clearly enjoying what they were made to do and I am just done in. It's the image of God. Imago Dei. The heavens declare and the stars proclaim and actual doves coo outside my window right now...and we souls wearing our skin and bones and doing the things that make us come alive -- it's God.
* * *
I don't find the Christian life to be particularly easy. And as an adult, who's crossed a lot of spiritual territory and darkness and light over the past 30ish years of knowing of Jesus, I find that I am not after a life of meaning and faith for its ease.
I am stumbling singing stomping dragging my feet shout-writing and wander-following Jesus not because it is easy. I am after this life of faith because of its veracity.
And so I cry when children sing and I cry when music crescendos and creators are creative. I once cried at a really well-written sentence and I cry over the way clouds look during a springtime sunset. I usually cry if I read the Word of God in before a crowd. I cry over my own children. And I don't cry over much else yet, because I'm still learning how to.
But I am paying attention now to the things that make me want to cry -- and I hold them up and consider how the image-of-God-ness has a role in those things. The limited expression of the Creator, in the glory and diversity of His creation. And I consider the precious imago Dei residing in me and even when it is a dim and silent way, I walk with Jesus.
* * *
We shall never arrive at certainty as to everlasting life except by a conviction that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is infallible in everything that He says. I had rather have one word from Jesus than volumes of human reasonings, however conclusive they may appear.
C. H. Spurgeon
'Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.
He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. '
'For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7