A few weeks ago I watched “There Will Be Blood” with my husband: fantastic acting; wretchedly depressing plot. The movie orbits around the search for oil. After an earthquake, puddles of oil bubble up from the ground, evidence of a wealth of black gold just beneath the surface.
I have some seepage problems myself. I can’t always predict it. Sometimes the oddest things will shake it loose. I quite literally start leaking – sneaky tears I can’t hold back. It feels like someone has stuck their fist right down my throat. Evidence of a deep reservoir of grief, just beneath the surface.
It happened again today, in the middle of an important meeting. I don’t usually shy away from discussion about my boys, the two babies that I never took home, but more often than not I get choked up about it – even now, years later, when it is a shadow of the devastation I once felt.
I tell myself to suck it up, to quit being such… a girl. As if that’s a bad thing, to feel things so deeply, to show weakness, to have a heart that is no longer shattered, but still broken in places that matter. And when the embarrassment passes and I finally work out what I should have said or will say next time, I remember that this grief is a precious part of who I am.
Not because I’m some masochistic freak who enjoys the pain. I would much rather laugh than cry. I enjoy life and that mopey schmuck Eeyore has always rubbed me the wrong way. But the broken parts of me are the ones that understand life and faith and joy in a deeper way than I did before.
There is a beautiful picture in the Psalms, of God collecting each of our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Because each one matters. No matter what we are going through, every tear we cry is important to Him.
One of the most helpful moments I had after the stillbirth of our first child, quite ironically, came from a heavily pregnant co-worker. Her husband was alarmed upon getting home to find her sitting on the ground crying her heart out; she could hardly speak to tell him our sad news. It didn’t change a thing knowing this, but I felt a little less alone, because someone shared our grief for that moment in time.
And now, when it is my turn to comfort someone, I don’t always know the right words to say. I don’t feel any less helpless or awkward than anyone else. And I can’t always understand their unique hurt. But I can mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). I can understand how desperate a dark night of the soul can be, and that sometimes it doesn’t FEEL like God is there, even when we KNOW He is. I know that if you press into that grief and fight your way through it, you can come out the other side a better, though somewhat different person.
Because you never completely outrun the grief. It lurks below the surface. And some days it leaks.
So here’s me, supporting the Kleenex industry for 12 years and counting.