I have not always considered myself to be a crier. Sure, I cried in a few movies here and there, and there were a couple of break-ups that felt dramatically tearful at the time, but I never really had much to cry about growing up. As sheltered as that sounds, I just was never moved to tears by much. The more I got to know the Lord and what He had done for me, and once I fell in love with my now husband and actually allowed myself to be in a position to hurt, the tears began to flow. Once those walls were broken down, I found myself crying about nearly anything. A commercial, sad or extra-happy story, or really anything that invited emotion brought water to my eyes and passion to my soul. Most of those tears, however, were not brought about by immense pain.
The intensity of the emotions that I have felt during the past year are unlike anything I have ever experienced. For those of you that are parents, you know the reality that is experienced when you hold your child for the first time. I remember being terrified the first time I held Bailey Grace and Ally. I knew in that moment that I wanted to do whatever I could to protect both of them from the pain and brokenness of this world; but the reality was we live on this side of heaven and suffering and hurt abound. And this terrified me. We only had to leave the girls in the NICU alone for one night (something laughable for those of you who have had children in intensive care for extensive time periods) but I bawled and held on to their hands tightly as I told them goodbye that night. It just didn’t feel right to leave them in the hospital by themselves. Already, the paths of their little lives were out of my control.
Since then, the pain that we have experienced has been insurmountable. While I always want to make sure others know that Christ is sustaining us; I never want to portray that it is void of normal human pain and emotion. We are not superhuman. Far from it. We have a super God who is carrying us but at times, our life is heart-wrenching. How do you begin to process walking into a neurology appointment in which you could potentially be told both your children have a life-threatening disease? How do you walk through days of being told that something is “not right” with your children; while also being told they have “no idea what it is or what it will entail”? When our girls get sick, my anxiety reaches the roof. Because we do not know what is causing the girls’ hypotonia and delays, we also are not positive what systems of their bodies are being affected. When they get a cough, their low tone causes them to have a hard time clearing secretions and I often live in fear of all the what-ifs involved. Every day, I look at our almost thirteen month old girls who struggle to grab a toy that isn’t right nearby; and who try as they might to sit up but shake and within seconds fall right back down, and my eyes sting with tears. I sometimes lie awake wondering how in the world I will be able to push two wheelchairs around if that is the Lord’s plan in our girls’ lives; and if there is even a van big enough for two wheelchairs in the first place. While we are hopeful that this will not be our reality, and while I know that the Lord has already seen the future and is planning ahead for us, I am human and this is the reality of where I am some days. I am laughing and crying as I admit that when we go to the gym or nursery (where other kids will be), I make sure the girls are dressed their absolute best. We may not be able to play with the other kids, but we are going to look adorable, dangit. Often, when I leave these places or play dates with other children their age, I hold it together until I get in the car and then the tears fall. Like every parent, I just want to save the girls from any and all hurt I can. The truth is, they could care less. Ally and Bailey Grace embody the fruits of the Spirit unlike any I have met before, and they make it obvious that they think their lives are the absolute greatest. I am the one that, if I am authentic, spends some days feeling as if the reality of our situation sticks a knife in the depths of my heart. I do not tell you these things for a pity party. We have a very full life, supportive family and friends, and most importantly a God that has saved us and is planning for us more than we could possibly imagine. You can’t live on this planet for long without walking through hard things, and I know so many others who live the challenging day to day as well. However, I want to make it clear that just because we know and serve a powerful God who is carrying us, doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling the weight of our circumstances at times.
In a sermon a few weeks ago, our pastor mentioned the verses in Psalms in which the Lord reminds us that he has kept count of our tossings and that He puts our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8). This was comforting to me, and then I remember that in Revelations He also says that there will be no more tears in heaven (Revelation 21:4). So if He has this bottle of my tears, but it is not in heaven, where is it? When Jesus comes back again is He going to make this so-called bottle appear so that I can know it actually existed but make it disappear all at the same time? (These are the things I analyze sometimes in my mind. The struggle is real).
The Lord revealed a beautiful truth to me this morning that I would like to share. I believe that the reason we will never see this bottle is because God in His wisdom and might is making something out of that bottle of tears that is bringing Him the glory and us all things good. As the tears fall, He is collecting them in order to create something precious that far surpasses the emotions that brought about the tears in the first place. The best part to me is this: He doesn’t have a tear-criteria. He doesn’t say only certain tears make the cut. He carefully and intricately cares about each and every one of them. One day in heaven, He will present me, present you, with something that is indescribably beautiful that could have only been crafted with each of the tears that streamed down. Your pain and crying is for a purpose. It is a vital and important piece of your story and one day, will be more than worth it. Whatever you are walking through today, I encourage you to trust Him with the weight of the story He is writing. There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3), and sometimes He brings laughter. But when He allows pain, let the tears fall, confident that He is collecting them for something beyond what you could have asked for or dreamed up. He cares. He loves us. He is always working for His glory and our good. Be encouraged today that not one tear will be wasted in the kingdom. Rejoice in that fact that once He calls you home, He promises you an eternity of Cry No More. Thanks be to God and God alone! He alone can turn our mourning into dancing.