I hate crying. Wait, let me clarify. I actually hate crying in front of people. I like crying when I’m alone. Well, “like” may be a bit too strong. But sometimes it feels good to cry. Today, for example.
Today was one of those days I knew I would cry. For years I have heard people rave about a Christian camp in southern Indiana. Until this year, my boys have shown no interest in it. Not to mention my lack of willingness to part with my children for an entire week. Some of you are wondering why. After all, they’ve been known to drive me to drink on more than one occasion. But I am an award-winning mother. (So what if the awards have nothing to do with mothering) so when I found the courage to ask if they wanted to go this year, they didn’t hesitate with their unison “Yes.”
My friends warned me that I might cry so I prepared myself with deep breathing exercises. As we drove closer to the camp, I was breathing deep alright. I had to in order to survive my husband’s driving through the country roads. Had I not practiced deep breathing, I’m certain I would have arrived at camp slumped over the dashboard from the fainting that comes with hyperventilation.
We sat in our car waiting our turn to pull up to the welcome booth. A high school girl, presumably working at the camp, passed out Popsicles as we waited. A nice touch, but not enough to make me cry. The scenery was idyllic, with the majestic pines and rolling hills, and the thought of my boys spending a week in this beautiful countryside caused a lump to form in my throat. But no tears.
After we told the guy at the welcome booth who we were, he sent us on to unload our luggage, which was handled by more high school volunteers, who cheered for the boys as they exited the car. After unloading the bags, we parked and headed into the main lodge to take care of last minute details. Then the boys walked out of the lodge to meet an old firetruck, which would take them to their cabins. Wanting to play it cool as I said goodbye in front of other 10 to 12 year olds, I gave them quick hugs and snapped a few pictures. Neither of them looked the least bit nervous so I turned to find my husband back at the lodge
He was not where we left him. My two younger boys and I waited and searched for a half hour. By this time, the joy of camp was quickly fading and the irritation brought on by miscommunication was quickly approaching. Finally, I walked back to the car where he was sleeping. The irritation now rose into full-fledged anger. We were supposed to board a wagon, pulled by an old tractor, for a tour of the camp. He told me he was too tired to walk anymore and how could I be mad at that. Because multiple sclerosis steals these moments from us, and I had no one to take it out on, I blamed him. Why hadn’t he gotten a wheelchair yet? Why didn’t he just stay in one place to conserve his energy? Why didn’t he try to call my cell phone to tell me where he was? The dry eyes were starting to moisten with each footstep back to the wagons.
By the time I boarded the wagon with the two younger boys, my mind had shifted from anger to anticpation. I couldn’t wait to see what the boys would be doing and where they would be staying for the next week. But the sadness of my husband’s absence hung over every moment of the tour.
After we met the boys at their cabins and saw the highlights of the camp, we headed back to the car. An hour had gone by and my anger had dissipated, but the sadness was about to overcome me. I couldn’t look at my husband. I didn’t want to tell him about the camp. I wanted to punish him for not being there. Before I knew it, tears were running down my cheeks. I hadn’t cried when I pulled up to the camp. I hadn’t shed a tear when I said goodbye. Nor when the tour guide explained the ins and outs of their days. I didn’t choke up when they talked about cabin time or how their counselors had been praying for them. I will admit that the tears were starting to well up, and my heart felt pangs of joy that could have caused an out and out sobfest, but for some reason I had not let it out.
Until the ride home. Until I came face to face with my husband who could not walk any longer that day. Once again he had missed out in a family moment because of a disease we had no control over. So I cried because I felt so ugly. I hated my thoughts of wanting to withdraw and keep him from the information he had every right to receive.
What I thought would be tears for dropping my children off at their first camp experience, ended up being a tears for the losses that we continue to have over this disease that affects our entire family.
My children had a fabulous time, just as I assumed they would. My husband and I have heard story after story of how God worked in their lives and the lives of those around them. When I picked them up from camp, the campers and counselors came together for closing ceremonies where they highlighted the weeks’ events. One of the elements to the closing ceremonies was a drama to the song “You Found Me” by The Fray. The visual of the drama along with the words got that ol’ heart of mine. The tears came with such force that I had to concentrate not to gulp loudly at the intensity I felt over what I saw and heard. No matter how many times I hear the song I am moved by these lyrics:
Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor surrounded, surrounded
Why’d you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me..
Sometimes I feel like this is what I say to God… I’m lost and insecure and you find me, but I’m lying on the floor so broken because the pain has gotten the best of me. I’ve crashed and burned while you were waiting to come to me and heal me, to heal my husband, to heal our family. You were too late, and now the damage is done. My heart is broken, my marriage is at stake and I am so confused… so now what? These are all the things I want to say to God. The things I do say to Him.
Yet, even in the rawness, I know He’s not too late. It only appears that way because I want to avoid pain. I want Him to pluck me right out of these painful situations and put me in a place void of hardship. But something inside me knows that even in the worst of the suffering, I will be okay.
I know this because I see the redeeming moments. I experience the joy that comes from simply knowing Him. I trust him still because even when I’m disappointed in Him, he delivers like He says he will, through a friend’s love, a sunny day, an unexpected connection with my husband.
Some people find it sinful to question God or to challenge His goodness. I believe God loves my honest heart. And I love him even more for allowing me to be so honest with him. In the honesty, in the rawness of my pain, I can get to a place where I am guaranteed growth and – a good cry. A good, cleansing cry. And once in a while I don’t even mind if it’s done in front of people because those are the moments when I am assured that He finds me surrounded, and not a minute too late.