Monday, November 7, 2011

Grace in Tears.

Within 30 seconds of getting in the car, I had started crying. It was going to be a brief car ride, maybe 15 minutes long, and I ended up crying for about 13 1/2 of those minutes.  Considering our destination was a church we were going to speak at, the timing couldn't have been worse.  I fanned my face.  I forced myself to smile.  I stuck my head out the window.  I talked it out; reasoning with myself as to why I was just fine.

Except I wasn't, and just when I thought I had myself under control I'd start crying again.

It was awful.  I wouldn't say I'm a hard-hearted person and that I never cry, it's just that, I'm really good at not crying.  I'm also really good at 'faking it' when I need to.  Faking happy.  Not that I need to 'fake it' very often (I have a blessed life), but even Josh has remarked at how good I am at compartmentalizing.  For example, if we're arguing but guests are about to walk in the door, by the time they walk through the threshhold of our home, I've tucked that anger away into a little corner of my heart to be dealt with later.  So not only was I crying on this occasion, but I was frustrated with myself.  Why couldn't I get on top of this?  I wondered. Why couldn't I logically walk my way through the emotions I was feeling?  I'm so good at that.  I'm SO GOOD AT THIS.

Except I wasn't.  I was a wreck.  Wounds I didn't even know existed were opened and my heart hurt and as much as my brain tried to tell it what's really going on and walk it through the steps of healing, my little heart would have none of it.

We pulled into the church and I started getting things out of the car, trying not to make eye contact with anyone (yet another reason why long hair is awesome).  I made brief eye contact with Josh where he politely informed me that "yeah it's pretty obvious you've been crying".  Great.  Time to make a decision.  Fake it or be transparent.  Fake it or be transparent.  Hmmm. Tempting.

Once we got inside, I went to the bathroom to assess the situation.  I definitely couldn't hide it.  The evidence of tears was hot on my face, streaking pale through my blush and forcing my eyelashes to bunch together; bonded by tiny droplets of emotion.

We went to meet the Pastor, a very nice young guy whose eyes lingered on me in confusion for a couple of seconds and then quickly transferred to the much happier husband standing next to me.  I understood.  No need to talk to the one who is clearly dragging some sort of baggage inside with her.

I began putting packets of information together and found healing (and a few more tears) speaking with a couple of my Aunts who were there to listen to us share.  With a renewed resolve I stepped into the world and struck up a conversation with a group of teenage girls who had come specifically to meet us.  I stood there chatting with them, learning their names, proving to them how cool I was, until finally I couldn't handle it and said something like this:

"Hey girls? Can I tell you something? Yeah, ok, um, I just thought you should knowwww that, yeah. I've been crying for probably the last 25 minutes straight. And I just wanted to tell you that. Because you could probably tell anyway, and I just wanted to let you know that everything's really ok now, but I just didn't want to be fake.  Sometimes life is difficult and sometimes hard things happen and it's really ok.. it's a part of life... and, well, I just wanted to be real with you.  Because it's pretty easy as Christians to put on a front and pretend that everything's alright when really it isn't.  So.  I'm ok.  We're ok.  Everything's ok.  But I just couldn't keep talking with you until I had told you."

They responded with several seconds of stunned silence. (Had an adult ever talked to them like this before?) They said a couple of encouraging, sweet comments and then we went back to our normal conversation.   From that point on, I felt so free, and so proud of myself for resisting the temptation of looking like I have it all together all the time. How come no one ever talks about how tempting that is?  Does anyone else struggle with it or am I the only one?

Because no one needs someone "cool" who has it all together, especially not teenage girls.  They need someone who is going to look them in the eye and say that hey, sometimes life stinks, and it's all a part of it, and it's ok to show it sometimes, even if it's five minutes before you're about to go speak in front of sixty people.  Really, it is.

I found grace in tears and I found meaning in sharing them.

Do you want to know the most ironic part? Josh said it was the best I've ever spoken, and I knew deep down he was telling the truth because I could feel it too. Somehow, by opening myself to pain and feeling and healing and transparency, it was easier to find my voice and share confidently from a whole heart. 

Imagine that. Grace in tears.
Photo Credit


  1. I know this feeling perfectly. Except, I hardly EVER am in control of such emotions. I'm so glad you had the courage to be real and make an honest, touching presentation. I'm sure they appreciated that much more than someone who just "has it together all the time."


  2. aw yes i know this feeling all too well. i def do not show that emotion but when i just seems impossible to control!

  3. THANK YOU for this post! People need to read this. I needed to read this. And you are not alone. I can't tell you how many times I've become a total wreck throughout this team building process. It's amazing how it forces us to deal with things we thought we had safely tucked away, never to be examined again. Appreciate your heart, Leslie! We're in this together!

  4. You are very beautiful my friend. A classic beauty.