There are four times in my life I can remember being so overcome by tears that it dropped me to my knees.
Many more times than that have I been broken, have I cried, have I worshiped deeply, or shed tears even in great joy. But these four moments are specifically memorable, special and significant to my soul, unique in how these particular moments took over not only my emotions, but my entire physical being… somewhat like dancing out through your physical body what’s going on in your heart, but the posture is utterly opposite.
The first time I can recall being on my knees in tears I was a teenager. I had been hurt. I had been wronged. It changed my life forever, as well as those close to me. At the time, I either wasn’t capable or simply didn’t have the right knowledge to respond to the raw and open wounds that lie within me. Regardless of ignorance, life still forces us to deal with things whether it be by conscious effort or unconscious passivity. With immaturity and inexperience on my side, I dealt accordingly. The pain would have been unbearable had I not been busy with the experiences and new found knowledge and freedoms that swirl into the teenager season of life; no longer a child, nowhere near an adult. Opportunities to push down or put off any depression or heartache came easily and often, and from every direction. It was effortless for me to surrender to happiness. I had a million new doors open to me that promised to make me happy. This was just what I wanted. Temporal and temporary didn’t matter. Moment by moment relief is still relief and I was learning to live in the increments of moments. But eventually band-aids will become worn, wet, or unintentionally rubbed against. Even if you refuse to take action and strip them off, band-aids are purposed to protect only for a while and will someday come off on their own. Band-aids only provide a cover from more attacks. They don’t provide healing.
I was sobbing out of regret for mistakes I had made. I was sobbing out of anger – not as much for being wronged as for my own allowance of it and furthermore for not being better at dealing with it. My grief was over my own sin and I was crying out for forgiveness. I knew I needed to forgive but I didn’t know how. But more than anything, I was ashamed. I desperately needed forgiveness to wash over me as well.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things and consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8
The second time I can recall being so overwhelmed with tears is probably my most favorite of the four. It was starkly different from the first in that it involved no pain whatsoever. Instead, in this moment my heart was full, completely overwhelmed, and pouring out one thing: worship.
Music is one of the most powerful forces I’ve ever known. In just a matter of minutes a song can just naturally make life “sink in”. Tunes we love and even ones we just can’t seem to get out of our heads become a part of our life’s soundtrack – full of albums that make up each season we encounter. Music enhances, alters, confirms, and expresses both our thoughts and emotions. Powerful.
The soundtrack of my life includes an array of styles. It’s all over the place – from classic rock that quickly takes me back to the blue house I grew up in on Old South Parkway, to hip hop that I will unashamedly set choreography to while driving down the road.
But one of my all time favorite tracks is “Knowing You” –especially as sung by a group of men recorded at a Promise Keepers event.
I had heard this song a few times. It had reached that stage where you get the lyrics down and the message really begins to sink in. My heart was relating on a deep personal level. On this night, every single word, every single note seemed to hit me with passion and force. It was as if the song had been born out of my soul, as if my very heart had written the lyrics and wanted desperately to belt them out as an anthem proclaiming the absolute greatest discovery ever made by myself or anyone else for that matter.
All I once held dear
built my life upon
all this world reveres
and wars to hold
All I once thought gain
I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now… compared to this
Knowing You Jesus, knowing You – there is no greater thing.
You’re my All
You’re the Best
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
I love you Lord.
As I sat low and clumped in the passenger seat, the tears began to flow until I was a blubbering mess singing along with wholehearted freedom. I was in awe. I was encapsulated with joy, peace, adoration, wisdom, humility, and perfect truth. I wanted to stay in this place forever, to live there. And though I wasn’t literally on my knees it was only because I couldn’t fit in the floorboard. For all intents and purposes, my nose was to the floor. In my heart I lay prostrate, moving only to reach over and hit the repeat button. My heart was pressing into His and I feared any release of that grip. If never before, in this moment, I worshiped in truth and in spirit… as described in John – where you reach that point of ceasing all effort to seek Him, instead – He seeks you. It was beautiful and unforgettable. It was perfect.
My comfort in my affliction is this; Your promises preserve my life. Psalm 119:50
The third time I can recall crying to the point of collapsing was just a few years ago. As a strong, persevering adult woman, I found myself alone, tired, weak, and fallen to my knees on my bedroom floor. The struggles of ministry, marriage, and parenting had completely worn me thin and I felt nothing more than depleted. I was fighting with everything in me in every area of my life for victory, pursuing breakthroughs on all sides, being pushed down but forcing myself to get back up, weary from the efforts of dodging blows and clawing my way through obstacles, only to come up destitute. I was spent. This time there was no song, no music playing in the background, just silence disrupted by my sobbing and pleading. I remember speaking out loud to God in muffled, broken up pleas. I was older now, not an ignorant teenager. I knew enough now to at least respond to pain and deal with it more effectively by seeking less temporal or temporary quick fixes. By this time I had met God and that changed everything. In a lot of ways, living in increments of moments was a thing of the past and life had become more about the long hauls. I was used to that by now. Even if His help was not always administered in ways I could clearly see or understand, I didn’t doubt it was there. Now I had faith. I had hope. The storms still came, but I walked now with God and through Him came this crazy peace that I could not shake even in the worst of times. I could trust in something other than my puny self. I could trust that in all things He was working for good in my life and that amazingly His promises don’t break. With Him I would always have help. That being said, I still felt helpless. But it wasn’t so much help I was desperate for. I just needed Him to comfort me. I was hurting, struggling. Life just hurts sometimes. No way around it, that’s just the way it is. From it all, simply put, my heart was just sad. I just needed to hear Him tell me everything was going to be okay. I wanted to feel His presence, close and real. I went from my knees to lying on that floor curled up like a baby. I wasn’t going anywhere until I felt Him closer still. I cried until I had no more tears to cry, and eventually just lay still and calm. Time froze. I don’t know how long but it seemed like hours passed.
“Be still”, He said, “and know that I am God.
It’s going to be okay…”
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain… Revelations 21:4
(thank you Brooke)
It was only about a month or so ago I had another one of these ‘moments’. I knew it was coming, I sensed it for some time; and when the silence hit, then came the tears and the outpouring of all that had been building up inside me but to this point had only been released in spurts. I welcomed it.
It was altogether different from the others, and yet the same in that it encompassed the root of them all. Instead of one breakdown, it was pretty much like a dozen all at once…
Like that first time as a teenager, I had been hurt and wronged – as well hurt others myself. The mistakes and complacency of years and especially those of late flooded my heart. But in this moment I could only come to Him with all that I was responsible for. Although I’d sought it before, I prayed again for the release of grace to wash over me. At the same time, like years ago, I desperately needed His help with the struggles coming yet again and still from all sides, but more than that His comfort for the pain that throbbed in my heart so overpowering that it seemed to keep it from beating at times. Just breathing on my own had become difficult. Deep within me I knew all He had taught me up to this point, and yet I couldn’t move until I could hear His calming voice tell me that everything would be okay, in time…this too shall pass. And just like I sat in the passenger seat long ago, still and in utter awe, there I sat on my bed, full, overflowing with pure and focused worship at the simple yet profound thought of just KNOWING God. Just to know Him…in this moment I could hardly believe I had this one thing if nothing else, this one thing that meant everything…just to KNOW Him. I can’t imagine how it is that people live one single day without that – and yet they do…but I didn’t have to ever be counted among them. Because I know HIM. There was pain, oh the pain; but in this one thing I had hope and I found myself overwhelmed and so tremendously grateful for Who He is, that I am His, and for His unfailing, perfect, unconditional love, even for me. All that I needed was wrapped up in all of Him, and I was desperate for not His blessings, not His gifts, not everything so beautiful and perfect He could offer, but HIM alone.
And He came to me.
There He was in all His perfect wisdom and wonderful love.
His presence surrounded me like a blanket. The quiet shut out all of the world and its shouting; the darkness left room only for His light. He held me so close, and I pressed into Him with all the strength I could muster. He spoke. And I cried. And cried and cried until there were no more tears left in me. I couldn’t think of anyone, any place, or anything – time froze yet again, and I wanted to stay right here forever…nothing meant more and nothing in this life did I need to move on to…my heart, mind, and very soul was home.
That night, as with those in the past, I needed restoration and healing…to be emptied out of all this world that had made its way in and to be brought to new life, new hope.
Resurrection for the soul will naturally arise out of a heart of repentance and/or a resolution to hope. The kind of repentance that comes when you see your worthlessness in full light against the backdrop of a perfect savior and drops you to your knees…the kind that drenches your face in wet tears shed at the mere glimpse of your wretched pride and sin leaving you in utter, complete, and total weakness – empty.
This is to be paired with hope. The kind of hope that is born in pure worship that denies deception, renounces resistance, and refuses despair. The kind of hope that goes to fierce battle against discouragement and pessimism in relentless pursuit of the impossible.
It is here, in our brokenness, that our hem is touched with a healing Hand.
It is here, in blind faith, that the mud is wiped from our eyes.
It is here, in this very place of emptiness of self that restoration is birthed.
It is here, in our acceptance of human weakness that strength mounts up on eagle’s wings.
It is here, in organic humility embraced, that His glory is awakened.
It is here, in the deepest darkest place of the weary soul, that light penetrates.
And it is here, in the very tomb of death, that resurrection begins.
… But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, the will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Life is ridiculously adamant about happening to us. There’s no hiding. Response is called for daily. There’s no pausing on the escalator or denying what is eventually unavoidable. But only you can do the responding to what events may come your way or the unexpected curve balls that fly at your face. Only you are responsible for your life. Only you have walked in your shoes and only you will make the decisions that determine your future, be it mistakes or what is truly best for your future. Others will be affected, don’t be naïve, but only you will live your life through to its end.
And as others are indeed affected, in your seasons of mountaintops and joy, you will inspire those around you. When you overcome, it will help others do the same. When you smile wide, sing, dance, and leap for joy, it will encourage and lift up those around you. And when you experience life’s best, living in the center of God’s will, there will be something unexplainable about your very presence that cannot be denied and will challenge the very purpose of lives all around you.
But on your best of days, take heed lest you fall. Seasons will come that you find yourself in the valley – and the response of others may be perplexing. Some will immediately reach out or crawl down to meet you right where you are. Some will sit with you until your strength builds and they will take the hike with you, sometimes even carrying you. They may know just the right thing to say… or they may just be quiet and stay, and at times that will be perfect.
Unfortunately, you may find that some people will see you falling and rather than take the laborious time to listen or get close enough to actually take hold of your hand will instead attempt to rescue you by hollering words of detached advice from afar that actually push you even further down. It’s so easy to add insult to injury even when that isn’t our intentions. It takes a little more time, though and even more strength and selflessness to help someone backpack their struggles, but we are to actually bear one another’s burdens. This isn’t a simple recommendation. The bible says it is the very law of Christ. But to bear another’s burdens cannot be done from the sideline. We have to suit up and jump in, get close.
Sometimes people just don’t know what to say, so they won’t say anything at all. Getting close can be uncomfortable. Don’t take this personally. Even our brothers and sisters in Christ may be so protected from the gutters of the world, from ugly dark places or any valleys other than the ones they may have experienced, that they may simply not know how to get to you. How many people do you know that don’t enter hospitals because it makes ‘them’ feel uncomfortable. Little are they aware of how much their presence would mean to the ailing friend that lies there either in sickness or perhaps even despair desiring the simple presence of a friendly face. Don’t resent them, don’t judge them, they are only doing all they are capable of. They are human, just like you.
One thing God taught me years ago that has saved me much heartache is to remember this: people are human. They will disappoint you. And you will disappoint them. This is not a “bad” thing so much as it is simply a fact. So, quit being surprised, expect it. The point of this lesson is to put our dependence, our trust in Him and remember that God is the only One who will never disappoint you, never leave you, never break His promises. Keep this in mind because while there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, even your friends and family will disappoint. And aren’t those we love so much more capable of pricking our hearts? It’s because we hold them so close there. Well, the truth is that you have that same ability in yourself with those that hold you close.
I have become acutely aware in recent years that I suck at loving others. I used to think I was getting it. I can remember times I genuinely believed I was extending God’s love to those around me in the best way that I could, but mostly it was in ways that cost me little and were most convenient and comfortable for me. Sadly there were even times my good intentions of love wrought the opposite effect I had purposed. I am learning to meet people where they are before rushing in with my own agenda of love. I am learning to judge less, to listen longer, and to take love where it’s needed- to go where the ugly is, the uncomfortable, even to the darkness if necessary to love. I have found that I do not have to understand, it is not critical for me to “get” the why’s and how’s of a person’s situation to love them. And I’m learning still the Corinthians way of loving that keeps no record of wrongs. I am still learning, still a long way to go. You have a long life to live, plenty of time and opportunities to be loved on and to be offended, and to do some disappointing as well, so forgive all you can, grow in offering love that is unconditional, and be careful to give grace generously, hopefully that grace will be returned to you.
Humans are capable only of being just that – human. In your moments of weakness or failure, you may even find, and I hope you don’t, those that flat out resent any attempt you make to get back up. There will always be spectators of your life that may never be close enough to see your scars or witness for themselves the struggles or consequences you face, and the distance they have from your wounds will lead them to a false perspective. Grace is a mysteriously uncomplicated and utterly accessible concept –way too “easy” for some to accept. You may come across some who simply don’t believe you deserve another shot. And they are absolutely correct.
But then that’s the whole point of grace.
If people choose to live and dwell in the past, be it theirs or even yours, that does not give you any allowance to do the same. To do so would deny and discount every drop of blood that landed at the foot of the cross. As much as we may forcefully grind in exhaustive attempts to pay for His gifts – it will amount to nothing more than futile efforts of gaining what has already been paid for, delivered and waits to be unwrapped. Forgiveness is free.
It cost Him everything….
And yet for you…and I,
Yes even for us,
it is free.
May you live and may you learn.
May you always know your worth in Christ.
May you never settle for what you know deep down is less than your worth.
May you experience the mountaintops as well as the valleys.
When you are where you’re supposed to be, may you abandon your plans of escape and be where you are,
And when it’s time for you to go, or to let go, may you have the strength to release your grip.
May you touch the lives of others and may you always have those close enough that are willing to reach out and touch yours.
From both the mountaintops and the valleys, may you seek Him.
May you KNOW God, His unfailing love, and may His love always be enough.
May you smile wide and laugh loud,
but may you also cry until the tears run out,
And when they do,
May you find yourself blanketed, comforted in the unfailing love and comfort of His perfect arms.
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls…
the most massive characters are seared with scars.
~ Kahlil Gibran =)
And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.