Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One Hundred and Eighty Degrees

"Through you the mute will sing."
-Newsboys' song, "I Am Free."

Isn't that just like our God?  He doesn't just make the mute speak, although that would be miraculous enough.  No, he doesn't stop there.  He makes the mute to sing.  He says, "You can't speak?  Not only will you speak, but you will sing.  Not only will you sing, but you will sing praises to me."  

Someone very dear to my heart has mild cerebral palsy.  There was a time when doctors told her she may never walk.  That's just not her story.  She is one of the best dancers that I know.  Her body moves so fluidly and naturally.  Not only that, but she teaches dance as a way to minister to children.  It's as if God said, "They say you can't walk?  Not only are you going to walk, but you are going to dance!  Not only are you going to dance, but you are going to use your dance as a ministry to me."

God doesn't just come into our lives and do a minor surgery, he raises us from the dead!  He doesn't just shift our direction a little but he causes us to do a one-eighty.  In my own life he has said:

"You feel worthless?  Not only will I show you how loved you are, but I am going to use you to show others how loved they are.  You will call out value in those who feel as worthless as you once felt."

"Your parents are divorced?  You are going to have a healthy, happy marriage.  Your marriage will bless others and show an example of my love."

"You and your sister don't get along?  I am going to make you best friends.  You will encourage and strengthen one another.  You will draw each other closer to me"

"You are bitter against your father?  You will forgive him and minister to him in my name.  One day he will enter into relationship with me.  You will enjoy being around him."

So if I were to contribute a verse to the song it might read like this:

Through you the disabled will dance.
Through you the broken will heal.
Through you children of divorce will flourish in marriage.
Through you enemies will become friends.
Through you bitterness will become love.
Through you my heart screams, "I am free."

I can't wait to see what other one-hundred and eighty degree transformations the Lord has in store.  What has he done in your life?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Girl of Sorrows

I am a cryer.  I am tender-hearted.  I am sensitive.  If we are friends in real life, odds are I have had to tell you that at some point.  Because the tears start flowing at awkward moments sometimes, and I feel as though if I don't explain myself people are going to prescribe me Prozac.  This detail has been the thing I've most often wished to change about myself.  (Unless we count Junior High where I most often wanted to change my cup size, but I got over that).  People get uncomfortable around crying.  Even my husband, man of great love and great intentions, still sometimes freezes up and doesn't know what to do in the sight of emotion.  Anger, he gets.  Disgust, he gets.  Sadness?  He doesn't always know what to do with that.  And he is not alone.

Did you see Disney's latest movie Inside Out?  The whole premise of the movie is that we live in a culture where happiness is the ultimate goal.  We can feel pressure to be happy all the time, to put a positive spin on things, to always look on the bright side of life.  The main character, Joy, can see the purpose of other emotions.  Anger helps us to stand up for what's right.  Disgust keeps us from being poisoned.  Fear keeps us safe.  However, to Joy, sorrow seems to have no purpose and just make everything worse.  Oh, Joy, I can relate.

One Sunday during the worship through music portion of the service I was praising God.  Like many a Sunday, I began to cry.  Once I started I couldn't stop.  What I couldn't express to God through words, I could pour out as tears.  I felt overwhelmed by his presence, by his great love for me.  I was thanking him and crying out to him and sharing my burdens with him all through the tender act of crying.  Then I heard his voice whisper, "Would you really want to give this up?"  I knew instantly what he meant.

 Through reflection over the years I have realized that my primary emotion is sorrow.  It is my natural response to turmoil of any kind.  Tears come easily to me.  All the times that I had wished to be different I hadn't realized what I would be losing.  Were I to be free from those moments when I make people uncomfortable by crying, my most pure, tender, sweet form of worship would also be lost.

Even though I have long despised it, I believe my sensitivity is a gift from God.  Sure it ruins even designer mascara, and I have to work to not take the mean things my teenagers sometimes say personally, but it has its perks.  For one, I can't help but be vulnerable with others.  If I begin to talk about how I'm doing I will often start to cry and have to spill my guts.  Being vulnerable with others frees them up to be vulnerable with me.  That is how closeness happens. On top of this, I am learning to weep with those who weep.  Likewise to crying about my own schtuff, as I listen to others share their hardships tears start to build in my eyes.  I have had friends tell me how that has made them feel understood and cared for.  Best of all, I can enter into a deep form of worship.  I don't really know how to explain it.  Crying in the presence of God is like a special place that I can enter into where I can express things to him that my words cannot.

It is okay to be sad.  That's not to say that we should let ourselves wallow, or fall into hopelessness.  But sadness has its benefits just like any other emotion.  Everything in me was designed on purpose, for a purpose.  God was intentional in the choices he made when he created me--my sorrow, my tears are no exception to that.  The bible says "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy," and "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."  Towards the end of the movie *Spoiler alert* Joy starts to see the benefit of sadness.  She sees that it helps us to have empathy for others.  She sees that it helps us process life's hardships, and ultimately, move on from them.  I too have begun a process of seeing the value of sadness and tears.  And you know what, I wouldn't change myself if I could.
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