The Ugly Cry (part 1)
I stood in the middle of the worship service this morning and ugly cried. You can picture it. Tears streaming down my face; there was snot involved; and I’m sure that my eyes were red and puffy. There was a time not that long ago in my life that I would have been petrified to ugly cry in a public place. But today I wasn’t the only one ugly crying and I welcomed the tears.
My heart was breaking for the things that break the heart of God. And we were singing of His redemption and restoration. His promise that He is not through with us, but making something beautiful. His promise to love us always, to never leave us, to never abandon us. And Colossians 1:17b rang true, “He holds all things together.” We don’t completely fall apart. Brokenness is met with hope and healing in Jesus.
Today was a multi-sensory, experiential service. We were invited to remove our shoes so that we could symbolically put ourselves “in the shoes” of the vulnerable. We were invited to open our eyes and hearts to see these people with God’s eyes and God’s love.
We walked into the first room. We were in a small bedroom with a mattress on the floor. A woman walked in who had just finished working selling herself on the street. We watched her breakdown, crying out to God for there to be another way. Crying out for someone to come into her life and really love her. Then the angry landlord banged on the door reminding her she was late on her rent. A baby cried in the corner of the room, and the woman loving went to him, comforting him with “momma’s here. Everything’s going to be ok.”
Then we went “outside on the street” where we encountered some homeless people. We listened as a young man told his story of how he found himself living on the street. He talked of his desperation for food and a dry place to sleep. How he sought drugs for comfort and then hated himself for using drugs. How he felt like he was less than human and ignored by those who passed him by. Our leader asked if she could hug him and pray for him. She prayed that he would know that he was seen and known and of great worth.
We walked into another room where we sat in chairs and were blindfolded so we could really listen and feel. An 8-year old boy began to share his story. He talked about how his mom abused alcohol and couldn’t even remember his name some days. How his father had abused him. How he wished he could live at school because he never wanted to come home. How these nice ladies from the government came to his house to ask him about his life. How they were so kind to him but how their eyes got really wide when he was talking to them. He didn’t know why. How a few days later those nice ladies came and took him away. He didn’t know who they were. He didn’t know where they were taking him. But they took his hand, and whispered in his ear that he was going to be okay. At this point, someone took my hand and whispered in my ear. He told us how scared he was and we heard his mom screaming and crying and his dad angrily responding to the social workers. Then we arrived at his foster home. He was scared by this kind couple who welcomed him and explained to him that he was going to be living with them for a while and he would be safe in their home. He hadn’t understood that he was going back to his mom and wasn’t sure what to think. But they gave him a stuffed animal and a blanket and hot chocolate and yummy food that filled his stomach. And then – the woman hugged him. He described how he’d never felt so loved and cared for in his life. Commence the ugly cry. This small child’s voice describing how other’s brokenness had hurt him, his fear, and his innate need for love broke me.
And I sobbed. And I sang with all that I had, grateful for a God who is present in these difficult situations. Whose love never runs out, never gets tired, never abandons. Grateful for a God who invites us to walk into the lives of the hurting with Him. Grateful for the reminder that I need Jesus just as much as everyone else. Grateful that my life story isn’t over and neither is anyone else’s… and the plan is big and beautiful and healing. Hold tight to hope. Hold tight to Jesus.