I was actually able to cry about Lily this afternoon, something I haven’t been able to do since she died, and I’m wondering if my inability to cry is why I’m still so depressed about it.
When I’m sad or depressed my face feels like it’s turning into cement. My eyes feel like they’re buried in my forehead, which is probably why it’s hard for me to blink and breathe, and my face feels like it’s fading into a cave and disappearing ~ all because I can’t seem to let myself feel anything about her being gone.
What triggered the tears this afternoon was an email I was writing where I was telling someone how amazing she was, accompanied by a photograph, and I included a link to my last post where I talked about her life and death (No One to Rule My Roost, Or the Holy Spirit In a Cat). After I sent the email I started thinking about how much I missed her, and then, to my surprise, I found myself crying.
Crying has always been hard for me. When I was a child tears were so unacceptable to those around me that I had to create a separate alter whose sole job was to cry whenever any of the rest of us were hurt, afraid, or angry. Unaccountably, her name was Crybaby, and she only came out when it was safe to cry, e.g. when we were alone.
Crying when Harry abused us only made the abuse worse, so tears were to be avoided at all costs around him. It was just too dangerous, and over the years stuffing negative emotions like tears became such a strong habit that now, when I want or need to cry, I can’t. The only negative emotion I’m able to express is anger, and that only at myself, unless it’s vented at the TV ~ which is probably circuitously directed at Harry.
But then I’m reminded that Jesus too felt anger and sadness. The shortest verse in the Bible is found in John, Chapter 11, which is the story where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead:
Jesus wept. ~ John 11:35, NKJV.
Three verses before that, in John 11:33 and also in John 11:38, it says that Jesus goes to Lazarus’s tomb, and when He sees Mary weeping there, He groans in the spirit,
Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. ~ John 11:32-33, NKJV.
And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. ~ John 11:37-38, NKJV.
In the Greek, the word, to groan, in both 11:33 and 11:38, is translated, “to snort with anger”. To me this means, for one thing, that it’s okay to get angry, because Jesus was angry at what had happened to Lazarus, and at the pain Mary and Martha experienced because of it. It also means to me that Jesus was angry at what happened to me, at least that’s what I got out of it.
It also says in Ephesians,
Be angry, and do not sin”; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. ~ Ephesians 4:26-27, NKJV.
And in Psalms,
Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. ~ Psalm 4:4, NLT.
All of this is to say that anger in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s what you do with it that’s so bad. If you use it to become bitter because you’ve held it in for years and years, you can make yourself physically ill. People with ulcers, cancer, high blood pressure, and/or heart disease can attribute at least some of their problems to the bitterness of long-stuffed anger and rage. If you use it to exact revenge, that’s another no-no. Revenge is God’s job,
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. ~ Romans 12:19, [Deuteronomy 32:35], NLT.
So the upshot of all this is that I need to let myself freely cry when I think about Lily, and when I think about missing her. I need to allow myself to feel angry at Harry directly, instead of yelling at the TV. If I could permit myself to cry openly when I’m feeling sad about losing Lily, I might be able to move through the grieving process more quickly and stop feeling so depressed all the time.
And if I allowed myself to feel the anger that I justifiably feel at Harry for the horrific things he did to me, then I might be able to move on from all of that garbage, and walk in new freedom from my past. I might get angry at myself so often, and I would find it much easier to forgive myself for all the dumb things I do. Because I can do some really dumb things, like we all do. But if I could forgive myself instead of hating myself, my life would be SOOO much easier.
Because we all make mistakes, and doing so doesn’t make us bad people, or any less lovable. It just makes us human. Christ died for me, mistakes and all. He died for me, not inspite of my flaws, but rather because of them. He loves me, not inspite of my imperfections and faults, but rather because of them ~ because they’re part of what make me unique, in addition to the strengths He created me with.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ~ and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ~ not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV.
I love that we are God’s handiwork (the New Living Translation says “masterpiece”), which is poiēma in the Greek, and is what we get the English word “poem” from. I also love knowing that it’s solely God’s gift, that nothing I do can change that gift. That is quite freeing, because I don’t have to worry that I might mess up or make God mad at me, and cause Him to withdraw the gift from me. I feel incredibly grateful for that.
Jesus has done everything for me! I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Him! So regardless of any sadness I’m feeling now, I’m confident that God is still with me, and will never leave me nor forsake me, and in the fullness of time I’ll be able to experience the full joy of the Lord again.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. ~ Psalm 30:11-12, NASB.
Thank you Jesus!!