The Might of Deeply Sung Tears: A Year of Sorrowful Rejoicing

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As I look back over the themes of what I’ve written in the last year, they haven’t exactly been dripping instagram-perfection happiness. They trace doubt and lament and wonder and a ridiculous amount of references to crying. They trace learning to embrace limits. They trace hard. They trace messy.  And, they trace hope. 

The following is a collection of posts, blog excerpts, and poems that have been written through a season of deep wrestling with the reality of brokenness and deep assurance of the reality of a God who redeems it.

March 26, 2018 ~ Past, Future, Peace

Hey there, Past, and all your pain. Hey there, Future, and all your fears. I see you. I hear you. I am oh-so-familiar with you. And it’s easy to hide behind you. It’s easy to let your soundtrack spin on repeat, the “not good enough then, not good enough now, not good enough for what’s ahead” that sets the rhythm for the posture of my life. It’s easy to retreat into the doubt and cry out with the psalmist: “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me!” It’s easy.

But God. But God. He is a God who has walked with me through the pain of Past. He is the God who will remain deeply faithful through the fears of Future. He is the God who places a new song in my heart and unexplainable joy in the morning. The God to whom I can declare “even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” The God who repositions my “good enough-ness” to share in the perfection of Christ and transforms my doubt to sincere dependence on the goodness of who He is. It’s not easy. But God.

So Past pain, Future fears, here is the cry of my heart: Hallelujah. It is well with my soul.

March 30, 2018 ~ Lament

Too often I rush to Resurrection Sunday without sitting in the weight of Good Friday.

Why?

Because grieving aches. Allowing myself to feel the pain of the accumulated heartaches of living is exhausting. Acknowledging the depth of my own very real capacity to cause hurt can discourage deeply. Knowing “it was my sin that held him there” sometimes evokes an emotional response I’m not quite ready to address. I would rather skip to Sunday and sing Kari Jobe’s “Forever” real loud and not have to think about the uncomfortable tension of mourning.

But this is Good Friday. Good. And the tension of grief is good. And the exhaustion of heartache is good. And Jesus is absolutely, completely good.

Lament is good. I can mourn the dreams that have to die. I can mourn the suddenness of unexpected loss. I can mourn the “what ifs” and the “why’s” and the things I probably won’t ever understand. I can pour them out at the foot of the Cross and know that “his dying breath has brought me life”.

Sunday is coming. But today is Friday. I’m going to stay here, in the tension of grief and goodness, just a little bit longer.

April 14, 2018 ~ On Psalm 16 and the Dream That Has To Die {Excerpt}

Kristyn, am I still good?

The question echoes between my heart and mind.

So I dig, I peel back the layers, I struggle, desperately, with the tension.

Psalm 16:6 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

“Boundary lines”, in Hebrew, hă·ḇā·lîm from chebel (phonetic spelling: kheh’-bel), translated as any of the following: the lines, territory, sorrows, pangs, pain (as in childbirth), measured portion.

“Pleasant places”, in Hebrew, ban·nə·‘î·mîm, translated as pleasant, sweet, or delightful.

How can it be that the sorrows, the pain, the territorial lines in my story that mark “this far and no further” — in such blatant contrast to an identity held so closely — are sweet? How can this portion that is measured so starkly out of reach of my heart’s most familiar longing be pleasant?  I keep struggling, and back up a verse.

Psalm 16:5 “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;  you make my lot secure.”

This portion is different. Manah: food (nourishment), choice portion/best available.

In reference to relationship with God, the portion isn’t measured — it’s abundant. It’s nourishing. It’s an invitation to life. Maybe the boundary lines, not negating all their sorrow and pain, can be sweet because the portion that is the Lord is the only portion that I need.

It doesn’t have to be “Jesus + _____” because simply “Jesus” is more than enough. 

Maybe obedience looks like letting my heart feel the hurt, but finally whispering aloud through the tension of grief that this dream can die.

You are still faithful.

You. Are. Still. Good. 

May 25, 2018 ~ Desire

Today’s wrestling: why would God create me knowing my inbuilt bent to desire certain things that don’t honor him? How could he know my propensity towards idolatry and still pronounce his creation “good”? And why, when I ask, doesn’t he simply take those desires away? I know he’s able. So why do I still struggle?

Maybe, in some situations, the point isn’t an absence of struggle. Maybe, in some situations, God is more glorified through the daily surrender of my desires than the removal of them. Maybe it’s in the learning to identify where I am allowing my desires to wrongly inform my actions, where the wants — even the good ones — have taken too high a place in my heart, and submitting them to the authority of Jesus, that the joy is found. Maybe it’s in the grace-driven process of being trained to take every thought captive that I grow closer to the heart of Christ. And maybe that’s the point. Not that my heart doesn’t wander, because this side of heaven it always will, but that when it does, I’m learning to redirect it to the one who knows me fully. Living surrendered. Loving Christ.

June 9, 2018 ~ Sorrowful Rejoicing

“Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (NIV, ESV, KJV). “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy” (NLT). (2 Cor 6:10)

Loving how this passage as a whole outlines the realities of walking faithful to Christ (“…in hard work, sleepless nights…in understanding, patience, and kindness…in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love…”), but especially holding tight to how it addresses the weight of grief, darkness, or hurt: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

The necessity of lament does not need to keep my heart from singing.
The authenticity of loneliness and fear does not need to dictate the depth of my ability to delight in my heavenly father.
The reality of depression does not need to taint the sincerity of my worship.
The presence of raw pain does not need to be set in staunch polarity to my understanding of the goodness of God.

My heart can ache AND I can have joy.

Or reversed, I can have joy AND my heart can ache.

One does not negate the other.

Or maybe the sorrow is intertwined in the rejoicing in a way that the fullness of one could not be experienced without the companionship of the other.

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. What a gift of grace.

June 21, 2018 ~ Named

That restlessness in your heart?

Name it.
Sit down and wrestle it until you have a specificity that goes deeper than “stress”.
Hunger. Longing. Fear. Loneliness. Comparison. Lust. Unmet expectations. Worry. Idolatry. ______.


Name it to Jesus. Vent it out on him. Messy lament all over him, dump it all off your chest onto his, weep. 


He can handle your named brokenness. 


He can meet you in your brokenness and still call you by name, claimed, His. 


Love has a name, too.

July 23, 2018 ~ I Choose These Chains

I choose these chains.

If this brokenness is reality until the other side of heaven,

If the wholeness I can know here comes from knowing Jesus and still knowing pain,

If surrender of my pursuits embodies pursuit of Christ

and peace

then I choose these chains.

I choose these limitations,

these “this far and no further” admonitions.

I choose these boundary lines that momentarily restrict but ultimately introduce unadulterated freedom.

I choose these chains.

Because worship can still flow

hearts can still love

words can still strengthen

stories can still testify

loudly

from Paul’s prison cell of joy-soaked obedience.

My prison cell of joy-soaked obedience.

Bound to faithfulness, tasting earthly fullness in the already, longing for eternity’s completeness in the shadows of the not yet,

believing He is always only good,

I choose these chains.

 

August 29, 2018 ~ Together

Loneliness is hard to walk.

In my experience, seasons of loneliness have been some of the most difficult to live surrendered — often driven by narratives of fear, doubt, or insecurity, or experiences of hurt, trauma, or blatant rejection. I linger more on the ache than the God who restores.

But I wonder what would happen if I started acknowledging my desire to be heard and seen, but stopped assuming I’m the only one.

What if I took the very real cry of “see me, please” and opened my eyes to see the same plea in the hearts of the people around me. “I see you. I hear you. You are known. You are loved.”

Let’s spend more time passing meals around makeshift cookstoves, share a little, laugh a lot, maybe cry about the gritty hard of living, and run after Jesus. Together.

October 15, 2018 ~ Weep Instead

Don’t cry, babygirl.
You’ll be ok.
Your tears, they mean fragility, doubt, faithlessness.
They give the impression that you’re not unflawed, not whole,
damaged. 
But you’re fine.
It will all
be
fine.

As long as they don’t know, the pain doesn’t really know you either.

Right?

Don’t cry, girl.
It will be ok.
Your tears, they mean weakness, psyche uncontrolled,
fear.
They give the illusion that you can’t.
Can’t go, or do. Can’t be, or understand.
But you can.
You can prove
them
wrong.

Speak louder and work harder, but don’t ever let them see you cry.

Right?

Don’t cry, woman.
Weep instead.
Your tears, they mean dignity,
compassion,
tenacity,
grace.
They give the invitation to life spent with collided mind and soul,
brilliant,
gentle,
kind.
You breathe Psalms.
You preach love
and
courage.

Growing up is learning the might of deeply sung tears.

Amen?

December 5, 2018 ~ Though Sorrow May Last: Depression, Grace, and the God Who Stays {Excerpt}

Maybe this is grace: not how well I function, but who Jesus is.

Counterintuitive as it is when I am rolled tightly into fetal position, longing to be clothed in the ever-elusive gladness of Psalm 30, this is the hope I can cling to: Jesus is good, Jesus doesn’t need me to do anything for him to be good, and Jesus, in his goodness, will never leave.

In a season where I have isolated from many people because I’m embarrassed by my lack of ability to contribute what I perceive as things of value to the relationship, or people have pushed me away because of my shame-ridden neediness, or people I have trusted with my story are at places in their own stories that move them away geographically or relationally, there is specific hope in knowing that while I may not be promised an orderly ending in the already, I am promised a God who will never leave or forsake me — even though this sorrow may last.

On an especially numb day this week, a friend called for no other purpose than to be present.

“I’m sorry I’m not exactly conversational” I mumbled over the phone.

“Don’t feel like you have to say anything. Just know that I’m here. And I love you.”

Maybe that is the eccentric beauty of when depression collides with grace.

Not that I contribute or accomplish or produce or do or function properly…

But that Jesus is here…

And he loves me…

And that’s enough.

Christmas Day, 2018 ~ Emmanuel

Weary-hearted sojourner, if today instead of joy your soul felt depleted, or grief made it hard to break through the fog, or hurt upon hurt opened wounds long thought to be healed, I see you.

If you feel burdened with shame as the longed-for happiness remains elusive on the one day you feel you should embrace it most, I see you too.

We are why Jesus came.

For us who join creation in groaning for redemption. For us who long for tangible wholeness and feel the weight of it in our physical bodies. For us who weep, and wander, and wait with heavy hearts. For us who hunger for a Messiah, a Yeshua, an Emmanuel.

A God-with-us. God WITH us.

He came to be with US, the weary-hearted ones–knowing us fully, in all our heaviness, loving us perfectly, promising that he will stay. Always.

This is hope. Hope is born. Christ has come.

January 17, 2019 ~ Psalms

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul 
       and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

{Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6}

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
        be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

{Psalm 27:13-14}

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in God at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
        God is a refuge for us.

{Psalm 62:5-8}

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
and there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
           but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

{Psalm 73:23-26}

 

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