Momentary Tears

Every once in a while, I get a text from Kara on a Sunday morning asking me to come sit with her if she is not feeling up to going to church and she wants Mickey to be able to go. I love those Sunday mornings with her, listening to her thoughts and dreams, hearing how God ministers to her heart in the darkest hours, discussing what we look forward to about Heaven.

Several weeks ago I received one of these texts, and when I arrived, the house was hustling and bustling with activity; a production company was in town from Hollywood working on a short documentary about Kara and her story. It was fun to be part of the busyness and to help Kara prepare for her interview. Then as the producer asked her questions and Kara answered them with poignancy and eloquence, I thought, Whoever watches this will cry. They won’t be able to help themselves. Kara is beautiful, her story is beautiful, and her grasp of God’s hand on her life is overwhelmingly powerful. This will touch the heart of anyone who sees it.

And yet I didn’t cry myself.

Part of me thinks that’s because I am used to this story—it’s become part of my story, too. I have to be able to function. Like I told the producer when I was interviewed, I have cried many, many tears. There have been days when I’ve been beset by my own sobs, tears the only relief from the paralyzing grief. A little hand pats my shoulder and I hear Von’s sweet voice: “It’s okay, Mama. Me always hoo [here] for you.” The comfort of my child brings me back to the moment at hand of making lunches, breastfeeding, wiping bottoms, teaching piano lessons. But I haven’t had a day like that in a long time.

On this particular Sunday, I watched with pride and admiration as Kara told her story and talked about God’s grace meeting her in every little corner of her struggles. She spoke of how Jason’s love was transformative. And the goodness of God she has experienced in the midst of pain. Everything she said I had heard. Until she said this: “I feel like I’m a little girl at a party whose dad’s asking her to leave early. And I’m throwing a fit. I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to go.”

Sobs immediately erupted from the bottom of my heart. I had to step out of the room into the kitchen. I grabbed the kitchen countertop and took deep breaths, fearing that I would hyperventilate if I couldn’t calm down. I wanted to throw myself on the floor and scream and accuse God of unfairness. But instead, I prayed for composure and was soon able to join everyone in the living room and watch the rest of Kara’s interview before helping her back to the sanctuary of her bedroom.

I’ve thought of that moment a million times. When I’ve tried to recount it to my husband, I can’t even get the words out, the emotion overwhelms me. And now I know—I don’t cry much anymore because I’m afraid if I do, I won’t be able to stop. I am afraid I will be swallowed up by my tears.

I have held many women as they’ve cried in my arms for Kara. I’ve seen friends talk through their tears about their sadness. Goodness, I’ve even heard Jason preach through his tears, the truth of the gospel ringing in his voice. And I’ve watched tears gracefully rolling down Kara’s cheeks, her delicate skin reminiscent of a rose petal, her tears a reminder of the reality of why we are all walking around with broken hearts.

And God’s grace meets me in the tears. Every time. His tenderness a balm and comfort for my heart. In those moments when I fear that grief and tears will overtake me, God’s truth whispers to me, promising to walk this hardest peace with me:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
— Isaiah 43:1 & 2

And one day, I will be called Home. As wonderful as it will be to see my parents and my nephew and my friends’ daughters and my cousin and Kara, what I am most looking forward to is the image from Revelation 21:4—God wiping my tears. That same father who asks us to leave the party early will wipe our tears and escort us into the funnest, joyfullest, holiest, most exciting party ever. And our tears will be no more.

What tears are you eager for God to wipe away? How has God’s grace met you in the midst of that struggle here on earth? Who in your life can you bring comfort to?