It’s been a weird couple days, and it’s strange the things that hit you. Sunday we hear of a church shooting. It touches me, of course, it does. Yet, no weeping. There are ongoing personal struggles and frustrations weighing on me, still, no tears. Then, out of the blue, I settle in to look at email, and click on one from an unknown email address but with a subject line that had familiar words, about Lay Ministries. They’re finally offering a Teach the Teacher class. Hmm. Next thing I know, I am struggling to stay silent, and five minutes later looking into the concerned eyes of my husband as he asks why there are tears flooding down my face.
After a time, I tell him what triggered it, but struggle with the why. How do I explain exactly the broken things that suddenly stab into my heart? It’s not as if those things are new or strange. It’s not as though this is some sudden loss. He, of course, chooses this time of all times to listen to his wife, and promptly tattles on me to our pastor, who also happens to be our friend. Ah, husbands, much like children, pick the most inopportune moments to heed our advice. I did, of course, tell him he should talk to our friend, but not about me and my woes. Corey has woes of his own, but apparently none as important to him as dealing with a silently weeping wife.
Weeping For A Night
By the time Corey actually went to go have his talk, I was smiling, and seemingly fine. Yet, what do you do when it seems like the water is rising, the rain is falling, and all you can do is keep on keeping on? I can’t exactly spend all day in a weeping puddle. I’ve got work to do, and people to see. And seriously, I really, really hate the complete inability to breath through my nose. I mean, that’s got to be some kind of design element meant to keep us from crying, because there is nothing worse than already feeling like your drowning in tears then suddenly feeling like you can’t breath because of it. So, no, not fine. But, at least now weeping invisibly as well as silently, so I can just stuff all that to the back of my head and not worry about it if I stay busy …
Which brings me to tonight. Tonight was DNA group at church. That’s the name we have for our women’s Bible study. I really like that group, and I’m enjoying the study we’re doing. More than that, we’ve hit the point in the study where we’re talking about the Holy Spirit, and what the Scriptures tell us the ministry of the Spirit looks like. It was a delight to talk about the verses, to hear what questions others had about some of the parts that describe this most mysterious of the members of the Trinity. It was a blessing to be reminded that one of His roles is joy giver. I mean, who can’t use some joy in those moments where the little you is sobbing silently in the back of your head. We talked of spiritual battles, and the armor of God, and what action we would commit to this week to grow in our faith. More on that in a minute.
Sharing Our Weeping
As we began the night, our leader, also our pastor’s wife and my friend, asked everyone how their week had been. I stayed silent, or made some vague comment, not quite sure how to express what was happening inside me. I thought about that in the back of my head over the evening, knowing prayer requests would be asked for later. As always, as we closed, we each shared the things we needed prayer for that hadn’t already been shared. Except for me. I still couldn’t. Not because I don’t love these women, I do. Not even because I don’t trust them, I do. I could claim it is because I am struggling with the pride I so quickly tossed out as the sin I struggle with, but that’s not really it either. I don’t mind being seen in this space. I don’t worry about them thinking me weak or a mess or crazy. I don’t even worry about being a stumbling block or offending them with a different thought than theirs or a seemingly smaller problem. When it came right down to it, my tongue was stilled because I ran into a problem I don’t know how to overcome. I had no words.
I cannot really explain that the weeping I have been doing these last days, am still struggling not to do even now, is a kind of grieving. It is the remembrance of losing the things I thought I wanted. The way Corey talked, he seemed to think this was a sudden realization on my part of something lost months ago. I didn’t really know how to explain that on the day I stood before a room full of people and spoke truth as gently as the Spirit would allow, but with words that left eyes snapped wide I knew I was giving up every dream and pursuit I had been working on for the previous three years. The day I sat across from one of them, and explained where those words had come from, and failed to bend to pressure to mitigate them, I knew I was sealing that loss. Actually, the day I agreed to be in leadership, I knew those days would come. The days after those days, where I continued to serve where allowed, attend, pray, and worship the Lord, without anger or rancor, I knew that in that obedience there was no hope of ever continuing those pursuits. Some of them required the sign off of my pastor, and I had been informed that would never be given.
It is not the loss itself that struck me. It was simply that I have grown weary of the limbo that is my current state, drifting from one thing to the next, with no goal and no means by which to pursue God in my day to day. Yes, I can study the Word, and I do. Yes I can pray, and I do. It is not that, it is the longing to run the race, as Paul puts it. Feeling like the Lord has taken away my track shoes and dropped a heavy fog across the track. There is no race before me right now. Only the longing, and swirls and whispers of something out there I can’t quite touch. So my soul weeps silently in the waiting, with nothing in particular wrong in my life, but something essential to it missing. How do you explain that exactly? Even writing it here, I cannot say it likely makes sense to anyone but me. Worse, it probably sounds a bit like whining, as it does even to my own ears sometimes. What I can say to anyone who does know what I mean, and that the Lord brought to mind on my way home tonight when I was kicking myself for not being more open with my friends is this. I do not know what to pray. But, in the ministry of the Spirit we were studying tonight, I find my hope for rest from weeping:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. ~ Romans 8:26-30
Overcoming by the Spirit
I don’t know what I need to pray. I’ve been crying out over a lot of things lately, some mundane, some even testing the Lord, some just deep crying. Tonight, I give it up to the Spirit to groan for me, to weep for me, to carry the deepest cries of my soul to the throne of grace and give them voice to the Father who loves me and called me and has a purpose for me that I may not see right now, but can hope for because of who He is. Sometimes I really forget that. Sometimes I so need the reminder. If I’m looking, I can see Him. Like tonight, answering those groans, at least a little, through those lovely ladies who sat and talked of the presence of the Spirit in us that we so easily forget, and let me just be.
Our assignment for growing in faith this week had three choices: asking for help in a spiritual battle we’re having, helping someone else we know is in a spiritual battle that needs help, or volunteering in a ministry in the community that helps those in spiritual battles, like a crisis pregnancy center. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to take the easy way out on this one. My day at the pregnancy center this week was yesterday, and I’ll be back there again next Monday. I’m there most weeks at least once. It would be so easy to look at that and say, yep, I got this week covered. But, I’m there most weeks, so I’m thinking clicking that off is probably not a way to actually grow past where I already am. I can’t explain the battle I’m in to ask for help, and I can’t see past it to help someone else. I didn’t know what I should do … Until I got home, and remembered last week’s action, to write and be a witness. So, here I am, to offer this.
Daddy, there are a lot of us out here tonight feeling pressed on every side, overwhelmed, drowning in the silent tears, hiding in the dark, not quite sure who we are, what You want, or when we might see a light in the fog surrounding us. We feel the enemy out there, tugging at our hope, whispering despair and sorrow over what could have been. We feel the distractions and the pain of a world awash in sin and evil. We feel the cracks in the armor You provide where we have let our guard down. Daddy, we’re reaching down to where Your Spirit dwells in us, crying out, and asking Him to groan on our behalf, to whisper of Your love, and fan the flames of the hope we have in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Open our eyes to Your presence, grant us the certainty of Your faithfulness and faith where ours wavers and threatens to fall. Help us Daddy. We ask tonight, and stand on the promise that You are near to the brokenhearted and You make beauty out of these ashes we see all around. In the name of Jesus, the one who redeems and by the power of the the Spirit, the one who dwells in us, and for Your glory Daddy, amen.
I hope tonight, if you are facing those spiritual battles, you will know that this prayer is for you. Even if I do not know your name, Abba does, and He hears you. And if you are in a place of spiritual rest and strength tonight, I hope you’ll pray for me, and the rest of our brothers and sisters who find themselves weary tonight. Be blessed and be a blessing.