I’m not a big crier. I don’t typically cry during movies or other times when it seems normal for people to cry. Sometimes I’ve even thought my crier must be broken. But an event took place a few years ago in my personal life that turned my tear faucet on full blast and I thought the handle might be stuck.
I remember sitting across from my counselor one day and apologizing because I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t control the tears. They would come at such inopportune times. I wasn’t used to this. She bluntly said to me, “Andrea, you won’t cry forever. Nobody cries forever. Eventually, the tears will stop.” She had an unprecedented way of telling me the plain and simple (and often hard) truth while making me feel heard and validated. What a gift.
In, what I call, my years of tears, here are five things I could not have survived without – tissues topping the list, of course.
Perspective – Keeping a healthy and realistic perspective has served me well in times of sadness and grief. God has always been faithful to show me that, even when things are at my lowest, it could always be harder. Perspective has helped me to maintain some semblance of gratitude even in the worst of times.
My counselor – I’ve had a few counselors in my day but this last one I had was nothing short of a miracle worker. Can I encourage you, if you are in a place where you could use a little help (and we all get there at times) to find a good counselor? Know that the first few sessions are so very vulnerable and more “get to know you” oriented. So commit to a couple of months at least. Evaluate changes and growth for sure at about 4-5 months and if nothing has changed and if you are doing all you are supposed to be doing (be honest with yourself), then it might be time to try another one. I will add that no counseling time is wasted. I felt like that at one time but realized that even the mediocre counselors I had were beneficial in some way. Like I said earlier, I miss my counselor. I honestly don’t think I could have survived that hard season without her.
Food – I tend to eat my emotions. Truth be told, I probably could have survived with less food, the scale is proof of this, but good food and drink bring me joy and a momentary escape from the pain. I think that God purposefully gave us taste buds to go with our appetites. Don’t hear me say that it’s okay to gorge yourself because you’re sad. I firmly believe He intends for us to find pleasure and comfort in food. In all things, there is a balance. For me, however, when the tears tipped the scale to one side, good food often brought a smile to my heart and my tummy. I’m okay with that. It’s a season.
Sunrise – Each sunrise God displays is exactly what my soul needs to find hope. Hope that this new day has potential. Hope that there is something more than sadness in store for me – something beautiful in fact. Hope that there is a reason for the tears. Hope that God has all of this in His capable, creative, miracle-working hands. Sometimes I felt like He made the sunrise so beautiful just for me. But I know better so I’m happy to share.
Words – Music, scripture, blogs, connections through Facebook that reminded me how wonderful the world is, emails, texts… anything that helped me get outside of myself and connect with another human or God without feeling exposed was a lifeline for me. Especially if it involved simple encouragement. I tended to ignore all things confrontational that didn’t particularly relate to my own personal conflict. I avoided (and mostly still do) political fodder or highly opinionated rants or venting. My soul couldn’t go there. I created a music playlist that pretty much stayed on repeat. A friend sent me a list of encouraging scriptures that I’ve added to and posted here. I read books (audio books and I became friends during this time), blogs and articles that challenged my thinking and offered balm to my spirit. Although Ann Voskamp often tends to be a bit longer than my ADD brain can keep up with, her posts are so honest and soothing to the wounded heart. I love how she graciously highlights words or phrases for the tearful skimmer. I also had a few friends who knew my situation and would randomly send me encouraging texts or emails. In times of sadness and grief, our souls need simple. A few of my friends understood that because they’d walked their own tearful road before me.
If you find yourself in a season of tears that seem to be on free flow, I want to tell you, like my counselor told me, that you won’t cry forever. No one has ever cried forever. You’re going to be okay. But while you are crying, know that you are not alone even if you feel like it. Your sorrow is seen and your tears are counted and stored. They are not for nothing.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
Have you walked through a season of tears? If so, would you share what helped you through?