Can we talk about crying?
I don't know about you, but I have always been a crier. I cry at EVERYthing. Happy, sad, neutral...I cry. It doesn't take much. For most of my life, I was led to believe (and I internalized it) that this meant I was "too sensitive" and I needed to toughen up. That's just the general attitude of society...not blaming anyone in particular here...that's just how it is. As a result of internalizing that, I've felt like a wimpy little failure a lot of the time. Angry at myself that I couldn't just make myself have a thicker skin. And if you identify as a crier, you probably know what I'm talking about.
But what if by wanting to change that, I was rejecting the unique gift that God quilted into my soul?
What if my urges to cry were actually promptings and whisperings of the Holy Spirit?
What if by trying to suppress my tears, I wasn't just burning my eyes, but also my spirit and grieving the Spirit of God?
When Mr. Ford and I were going through our pre-marital counseling, we talked a lot about certain things that grieve my heart. Keith, our pastor, looked directly at me, bore into my soul, and said with a fierceness I knew meant I should heed this counsel, "Give expression to those emotions". I nodded and immediately tears came. And he saw this and urged, "Give expression to it, dear one. Give expression to it no matter where you are or who you are with."
Slowly, over the last eight or nine months, that has begun to internalize...and replace the 25 years of internalization that crying was bad and that I needed to stop being so sensitive. (Have you ever noticed how much disdain that phrase carries when it is uttered? It's so demeaning.) But it hasn't been until the last month or so that I have really begun to grasp the full weight of what it means to give expression to those whispers.
It has completely turned my perspective on life on it's head. My life in particular.
Here's the thing. One of my spiritual gifts is discernment. On every gifts test I have ever taken in my 26 years in church, I have scored very high in discernment. And I see it in my everyday life. And I realized, again with the help of Keith, that these emotions are promptings from the Holy Spirit that there is a wound or a need or some brokenness in my presence. And this grieves my spirit. And so I cry. I weep. It is my soul giving expression to the groanings that are too deep for words. This is worthy. It is NOT shameful. And from this point forward, I refuse to accept that attitude from any source.
When I cry, when I give expression to these groanings, I am interceding on behalf of those who are too broken to do so for themselves...it is my worthy and holy calling that the Creator God gave me, Ashley Ford, to help heal the broken and do kingdom work. And even, sometimes, it is the only way to intercede on my own behalf. When words fail me, my spirit groans, and my tears are my prayers. And the Father hears these prayers...oh, how He hears them. And He loves them.
This may seem small...but it is the small things that make up the whole. And in that, they are not small. This privilege is, for me, everything. It is my life's work. More than being a wife or, God willing, someday a mother. This calling informs those callings. And I am blessed by this. It has changed everything for me.
Why do I share this with you?
In hopes that if you, like me, are a "crier", you will be encouraged. That you will find purpose and worthiness in that crying. That you will, from this day forward, give expression to it. And every emotion. Laughter holds the same weighty worthiness. Do not run from it. Do not suppress it. It is the very Spirit of God moving in you and whispering to your heart, "Here is the work I have prepared for you." Do not ignore that. And do not allow the lies of the world, even if they are coming from an otherwise trustworthy source, to convince you that this is a weakness and to shame you into not expressing what God has placed in your heart.
This is a divine imperative, which has more weight than any worldly imperative, familial imperative, or even "churchy" imperative. It is my response to my Savior and ultimately, isn't that what this Christ-follower life is about? Responding? A response to what He did for us at Calvary and to His resurrection and to the way He moves in our lives and in our world.
Often, I respond by weeping. And the Lord smiles and says, "Well done, good and faithful servant".
How do you respond?