I’ve never been much of a crier. I would rate myself as average on the sentimentality scale, but not to the point of tears. I’m not sure why. I suspect it goes back to needing to be strong enough to deal with tough issues as I grew up. To cry always equalled weakness, which opened me up to being made fun of and hurt.
In the early years of my relationship with Michael, several times I remember starting to cry. Each time he seemed to react more harshly than I would have preferred. Again to avoid being hurt, I learned to swallow deep and keep the tears inside. It was only in later years that I realized that his reactions were out of fear himself that I was hurt and he wouldn’t be able to “fix” whatever the problem was. I even remember one of my kids commenting to the other that at their high school graduation “Mom cried!” because it was such a rare occurrence for them to see.
So, for the past ten days, as many of you know, I have been in Israel with friends. This is a trip that Michael and I made together three times before. I knew what to expect and most of the sites visited I’d been to before. But what I didn’t expect was all the memories of being here with Michael – memories of the people who had travelled with us before, the places we loved, the laughs and games we played, the friends we met in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And over and over again on this trip I have cried. Sometimes it’s just a misty eye; other times I boo-hoo.
This week I was asked to present a devotional teaching on the trip. The site assigned to me was the Pool of Bethesda. This is the place in John chapter 5 where Jesus heals the man who has been waiting 30+years. Well, after a week of emotional reminiscing, for me to talk about healing just opened the floodgates. I blubbered through trying to convey how much I don’t understand about healing, why some get healed while others don’t. It wasn’t my best work.
I just hate that I cry this way. I understand it’s probably normal. I know it’s because of the wonderful times we had together. But I hate the way I feel so weak. And I hate that it draws attention to myself and others feel sorry for me. (Not to mention the fact that my nose turns red and my eyes swell – yes, I get the big ugly cry.)
Later in the day, while walking through the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, I stopped into a shop where we’ve befriended the owners. I’d been looking for something to bring my daughters from my trip. As I looked into one of the jewelry cases I spotted two beautiful silver chains with teardrop shaped charms hanging from them. The scripture next to the necklaces was Psalm 56:8 – You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? (Psalms 56:8 NASB)
Oh God, thank you that You care enough about me to gather up my tears. You do not chastise me or grow impatient with me for crying. You hear me and comfort me. You understand all the mix of emotions, from loneliness and heartache to thankfulness for the memories and experiences I’ve had. You know how weak the tears make me feel, but maybe weakness is just what I need to be feeling – weakness and dependence on You.