A friend reached out to me this morning,
“I don’t want to cry because I feel weakness. I keep the joy flowing and just go on.”
I was sitting on the floor with Nora, playing with a pile of stuffed animals whose faces depicted a joy that my friend clearly was not feeling. The joy she feels tends only to mask her greatest fears and doubts. Initially, I responded with something humorous – because that is how I manage stress and sadness on my own. It would be several hours before I could manage a meaningful response.
I continued with my day, trying to catch a good response between all the unhelpful buzzing of my mind.
It became a bit more clear to me after visiting a friend at work. Bodies trickle in and out of his door each day, and I am simply another who claims a little more baggage than the last to enter. There is an eerie sadness in my steps as I approach the room – because this friendship, unlike most, leaves me feeling confused, vulnerable, and unsettled for the realities that present themselves in our conversations. It has been typical of me to unravel a heart full of grief during our time together, to tear up. I am uncovering stones that haven’t seen light in years.
But I walk away and fail to process what was said and felt. Instead, I quickly brush past it – not letting the tear roll down my cheek. I have heard it is not a tear until it falls.
Afterward, I went to the park and paced the boardwalk in the rain.
You’d think I would have something figured out by now. Is anything ever truly figured out? Decisions are made, but process always follows. Process is what makes “figuring things out” cumbersome. It is like reaching the pot of gold at the end of rainbow road, only to learn that you have to pay to see it.
Process. That’s it.
I finally knew how to respond to my friend.
You’re going to be okay, you know. You’re a brave girl, and filled with good spirit. No amount of tears removes that from your character.
It is with child likeness that we are strong enough to cry in the face of true difficulty.
There is a switch that turns on somewhere in a lifetime that seems to imply that we are less when we are vulnerable. The Cross flips that switch, turning on a Light where all are welcome to be weak because He is strong.
It’s ok to cry.
I whispered it to myself after sending it to my friend, “it’s ok to cry.”
And then I did.
There is radiance in a twenty-something-year-old tear.
It is a moment to be tucked away and shared with later generations – because this time in our lives seems to be a time where we waver most. We aren’t confident about who we are or who we are becoming. We are scared for the future and what the present says about it. We feel like we’ve failed to achieve what has been expected of us. We feel like we don’t have passion, or drive, or success.
We don’t have anything “figured out” despite all of the things we have decided, despite some of the things we’ve accomplished. And though we all feel this, we all feel alone.
Yet, acknowledging and processing these things creates a moment that is beautiful and satisfying. To cry seems childish – though I think we all wish to be children again. Things are decided for us and the process is handled by someone else. Only, in our childhood we don’t realize that we possess the ability to handle such great things on our own. We assume minimal responsibility, and fail to feel the weight of difficulty.
The twenty-something seizes that ability as they embrace adulthood. To feel pain and to process challenges is a beautiful ability – to empathize, to sympathize, to grow in grace and patience and humility.
We long to be children – but in our twenties, we become new creatures who truly feel gravity.
What a remarkable thing to feel gravity instead of float on another man’s soul for comfort.
You’re doing what you were created to do in moments of doubt, and fear, and sadness, and joy, and pain, and triumph, and uncertainty. You are feeling – and that is the greatest process of all.
There is radiance in a twenty-something-year-old tear, and you are not alone.