The Day of the Ugly Cry

We’ve all had the ugly cry.  The one with tears pouring down uncontrollably.  Snot running, mixing with the tears, no tissues within sight.  Shoulders heaving, chest tightening, body in uncontrollable waves of sobs.  That ugly cry.  We each have a memory that comes to mind when someone says “ugly cry.”  When we are at our absolute lowest of lows, God is there.  He lifts our face and smiles love and hope into our hearts.  That doesn’t always mean it is puppy dogs, rainbows and unicorns though.  (Can you tell I have two little girls?)

I’ve had two big “God gripping my life” ugly cries.  It seems when God needs to get my attention gentle words aren’t effective; I need my head beat against the concrete instead, but I digress.  First ugly cry was the Sunday after I filed for divorce.  Yes, Christians can be divorced, we sin just like the next person (another blog for another day).  That was the first time in many years that I attended church and I sobbed through the entire sermon.  I don’t think I heard a word the pastor said and found myself sobbing and weeping at the front steps of the sanctuary begging for absolution of my sin and confirmation of my salvation in Christ.  (Luke 7:36-50 was me!) That was 8.5 years ago.

The second big ugly cry was in the parking lot at UT Southwestern before my neurosurgeon appointment, to receive a 3rd opinion on my spine and neurological diagnosis.  The first two opinions were not encouraging.  I prayed harder than I’d ever prayed for longer than I’d ever prayed just for that one appointment.  Seriously, when the Bible talks about praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:16-18) that’s what I was doing, for weeks!  Before walking in for the appointment it came down to do I really believe that God is good?  Do I really believe that living the rest of my life in constant nerve pain that cannot be medically improved is God’s best and God’s “good”?  How could a good God really do that in my life?

I decided before I walked in to the appointment that God was good, no matter what.  Then I wiped all the snot and tears away, using at least 10 napkins, gathered myself (and water because I was dehydrated after all that!) and went inside.  The appointment didn’t go well.  I didn’t get good news and the doctor didn’t have the best delivery of the unfortunate news.

However God is good, and he is faithful.  He has used my journey of pain and suffering to reach others for Christ in the most miraculous ways one could imagine.  I met a random woman suffering in constant pain at the exact moment her husband was across the world in the Sea of Galilee praying for help for her pain.  God gave us to each other to love and mentor each other through this journey.  She is now pain free, I am not.  And that’s okay.  I’ve been able to share Christ openly in several doctors offices.  Nurses have been able to see the example of my love and joy through suffering and have received encouragement.

God has used my pain for His glory.  He has used my suffering for His glory.  But the biggest result of my big ugly cries was God changing MY heart towards Him.  I had to pray incessantly to God which forged a new level of relationship with Christ.  He taught me to trust Him even when it doesn’t feel good.  God lifted my head, ignoring my running snot, looked into my eyes and said “Peace be with you.” (Philippians 4:7 ringing in my head).  God taught me it isn’t about this moment, it’s about the future discipleship of others using the giftedness God has given me, which includes my pain.  My pain is a gift from God.  And God is good.

If you are struggling today my friend, be encouraged; God is WITH you and God is FOR you!  He will absolutely give you more than you can handle just so you will rely on Him to make it through.  If you are having a hard time, I encourage you to sit and worship with these songs today: “Blessings” by Laura Story, “Thy Will” by Hilary Scott, and “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix.  These three songs have gotten me through the last 9+ years of pain and worship, worship in pain.

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

 

Bowling Ball Turned Wrecking Ball

After church on Sunday our family decided to go bowling.  It was the second time in five years, and Livi didn’t even remember the previous time she’d gone.  Clearly not winning the Mother-of-the-Year award for 2018 but that just means I’ve got five more months before I have to start trying again.  Kidding!!  (Or am I…)

Everything was going great.  We made it to our lane, shoes were on, balls picked out and the competition began.  Livi and Addy had bumpers so they felt tremendous about their scores.  After our first few turns, Reed and I warmed up and our scores started to catch up with the girls.  It was also about that time I could feel something was wrong.  The swinging rotation of hurling a weighted ball ripped through my spine.  Every move I made and every breath I breathed sent searing shock waves of pain through my torso.

The bowling ball was supposed to have wrecked the pins at the end of the lane, instead it wrecked my heart and tore open wounds of grief.  I knew this would be my last time bowling, my body wouldn’t make it through this again.  Each time I rolled the ball I rolled it in anger.  Anger at the girl who wrecked her car into ours.  Anger at the pain that I endure 24/7.  Anger at the loss of freedom to do what I want when I want.  Anger that I would never bowl again.  Anger and sadness and more anger.

Never once did I roll the ball from joy.  Joy that God has given me the ability to walk and function in daily life when so many people I met through my pain journey will never walk again.  Joy that God has slowed me down so that I can appreciate time with my kids and my family.  Joy that God has provided me ministry opportunities through the pain and through the grief.  Joy that God showed me how ugly I was and how He had so much more for my life.  Joy that God wanted His best for me.

I may have struggled to walk out of the bowling ally, and I may be moving extra slowly for the next few weeks, but I won.  I not only won the game but I won a life lesson.  It is okay to be angry, and it is okay to grieve.  It is okay to experience pain and it is okay to cry.  Just make sure to find your joy in Him.  Our God is a compassionate God and he wants nothing more than to hold you, comfort you and then give you His best.

Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

2 Corinthians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

Isaiah 49:13 – Shout for joy, O heavens!  And rejoice, O earth!  Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains!  For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.

Psalm 40:1-2 – I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.