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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