Some people are beautiful . . . even when they cry. I am certainly not one of them . . . especially when I cry. When my heart breaks, tears gush; one little tissue is of no help.
I grab the toilet paper ROLL . . . yep, those double-sized, extra strong rolls . . . hoping it will be enough to absorb all the bodily fluids pouring out of my face. It is not a lovely site.
I grew up hearing my mother say, “I need a good cry,” and I thought, What the heck is a “good cry?” After my son was born with disabilities, I learned a lot about good cries.
A good cry is a flood-like release of emotions, a torrential outpouring of grief, usually precipitated by an unexpected, life-altering experience. It’s the kind of experience that forces one to come to terms with the truth that we live life on God’s terms, not ours.
He allows these irreversible and intensely painful experiences for a purpose we often cannot see at the time. We feel split open and vulnerable; a good cry is part of the letting go.
I felt one of these flood-like cries coming on not long ago. In preparation for another long and dreaded meeting for Jon’s disability support, I had organized four three-inch binders.
Reading 20 years of medical reports and disability complications always splits my heart open. I never expected these challenges, but God allows them for a reason. Somedays this is easier to accept than others.
I dreaded the meeting because it was a rehashing of everything categorized as “what is wrong with Jon.” For reasons I do understand, the clinical evaluations are measures of his physical being.
What is lost in translation is what matters most to God . . . the condition of Jon’s soul. First Samuel 16:7 always comes to mind:
The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Such easy words to forget in our human condition.
I sat down at the rickety, round table for two hours, and we reviewed his challenges. I swallowed hard as the swelling of emotions began to surface. I kept reminding myself this was not a character analysis but a review of Jon’s fragile, human existence.
It’s so easy to forget what’s most valuable when we’re physically and intellectually competent. Nowhere in Scripture are we told “Competency—or cleanliness for that matter—is next to godliness.”
However, I’ve observed most of those who are uncomfortable around or who dismiss the disabled are typically those who value human strength, ability, and achievement.
Comfort with Disability
Before Jon, I wasn’t comfortable with others’ differences and disabilities. Now, I’ve grown to love these amazing people, but my ego had to be crushed for this to happen. I once placed great value on strength, ability, and achievement.
If we’re willing, God eventually removes the bows and fancy wrappings and exposes our fragile, fallen condition. It’s helpful to remember the finest wines come from crushing the grapes and allowing time to pass.
Thankfully, the meeting ended before I flooded the office with tears. By the time I got home, my face was a sloppy, wet mess.
Even so, my long good cry in all the ugliness was really a beautiful thing. I’m continually learning that a deep soul doesn’t require us to be beautiful; it requires that we be broken.
That evening, I opened my Bible to John 11–12. This passage of Scripture is like riding a roller coaster: the death of Lazarus, Christ bringing him back to life, the cheering of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, then the prediction of his own death. John 12:24–26 is critical here:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. (NLT)
Life is like a roller coaster at times, isn’t it? The highs and lows can be maddening if we don’t look beyond them to the bigger picture. In order to live, we must die to self.
For wheat to grow, it must first be broken. Deep within the earth’s darkness, a transforming process unfolds. Just when we think all is lost, that splintered outer shell becomes the only passage for a new plant to grow from which its seeds will one day take root. Breaking is required for something beautiful to take root and grow.
We must be broken for transformation to occur, for new life to come out of our souls. In the deep, we find life. (Take a look at this time-lapse video of what happens when the grain is split open.)
The ups and downs of life are made smooth when we learn to embrace God’s plan—when we trust that in our most shattered moments, He is releasing us to grow deep which eventually leads to spreading hope and having new life.
I have come to envy my son’s brokenness. He doesn’t fight it; he shows up broken and beautiful. No medical record will reveal the richness of his soul.
Let Me Hear from You
Where are you today? Have you been resisting what God is breaking in you? Maybe the breaking is happening now and the pain is deep and dark. Oh friend, allow it to be.
God’s hand is on you; there is transforming work going on that will eventually lead to such fullness you can’t see in the dark. Christ calls us all to come as we are, to show up in our mess.
Allow the tears to fall, a good cry may water the ground upon which your soul will be rooted, strengthened, and filled. Where are you in the process today. Let’s connect this week.
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