I have no idea when I became a stoic. Maybe I’ve always been that way, outwardly at least. I wasn’t the one to cry about things. That was my sister. (Hi, Sis. Love you. This isn’t an insult!!) I was the other one. The one who ran at an even keel. The less sensitive one. I don’t remember my parents saying this. I don’t remember anyone saying this, but I hear it in my head as though someone did. For some reason, it’s safer and better and wiser to appear stoic. Everything rolls off. Cold. I know I appear cold. And yet, that’s not me. Not even a little tiny bit. I don’t know where that hiding girl came from, because I don’t have a childhood filled with skeletons and terrors I have to hide from. But there she is, and I’ve been harboring her forever.
I don’t raise my arms in church. I want to. Isn’t that strange? What could possibly keep my arms at my sides when they want to reach for the sky? And others in my church do it, so it’s not like I’d stand out as an oddball. But I’m the stoic. I don’t do that emotional stuff. I’m calm. Calm is good.
I’ve been writing about a conference I attended about the Holy Spirit. At one point in that conference, someone was talking about seeing herself as Jesus saw her. I don’t remember the specifics. I simply have a small note in the corner of my conference bulletin that says Tears and weeping because how I see me isn’t how Jesus sees me. I remember, too, her talking about this going on for a month. Something happened in this speaker’s life, and she spent a month in tears.
When I heard that, I was envious. I wanted that. I wanted to be so moved I’d spend a month in tears. The stoic is hard to live with. What is she afraid of? What’s the purpose behind sucking it up and appearing cold? Habit, true. Changing a habit of 40-some years isn’t easy. And my live-in family is all guys. What would they say if Mom suddenly turned all girly? What if the floodgates of Mom’s heart opened and they could see, for the first time ever, what went on in there?
How often she weeps inwardly with joy when they succeed. How often she weeps inwardly with pain when someone hurts them. How many tears find their way to the heavenly throne when she pleads for their salvation, their spiritual health, their physical health, their relationships, their happiness? What would they say if they knew she weeps over movies and animal videos? If her heart is so very tender that sharp words and being taken for granted and those days when they don’t see her–those cut to the core.
But how can they know?
I wrote the note about tears on the day of the conference, and then I forgot about it. I found it again a few weeks later. Four weeks later. And I laughed, because for four weeks I’ve sat in church and cried in silence as the love of God spilled onto my tired soul and brought it to life. For four weeks I’ve wept numerous times while reading my Bible, conversing digitally with friends, praying. Slowly, the shell dissolves away, and holy tears flush out the fears.
I still have miles to go before I will consistently see myself as Jesus sees me. I know he loves me. I know the Spirit is with me. And I love that knowledge. I cling to it with everything I have. But it’s a tiny bit of knowledge. I can’t quite live it out yet. I trust that will happen. I trust the shell will continue to dissolve. The tears will flow. The arms will rise. The emotions buried will get out to play, to breathe and stretch and change me and the world around me.
It’s a work in progress. But this is life, and I think it’s safe to say every little bit of it is a work in progress. If you see me crying, though, give me a thumbs up. Maybe a hug or a high five. Letting go of that other girl who fears being seen, being known, being visible–it’s harder than one might think.
One place I’m never afraid to let out the tears is in my fiction, which can be drama over the top. Check out my sweet romance, inspirational romance, or Christian fantasy novels and get to see the other me, the one who has figured out how to weep, laugh, and raise her arms when the Spirit moves her.