I can remember the tears and the anguish despite the twenty years that have passed. The feelings of loneliness, rejection and being trapped were tangible to me. I had no where else to go, so I went out to a car in the driveway, got in the back seat, laid down and just let it all out… tears, screams, heartache… it may be the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life.
The youngest of 3 girls, my sisters went off to college and I was left alone, caught in the battle that was continually being fought between my parents. Anger, rage, yelling, control, judgement… I felt defenseless and as though there was no shelter from the storm. There seemed to me a carefully constructed and orchestrated facade put on by my family in public my entire life. Many people would have probably been shocked or not believed the reality of our home. Good grades, excelling at sports, trustworthy friends, bi-weekly church attender and no sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll for me, but the storm raged on at home no matter how close to “perfect” I was. My good behavior only hid the turmoil inside of me, and in our home, further to outsiders.
As I took a cue from the cliche antics of teenagers looking for security and love in all the wrong places, I set myself up and was again devastated by the rejection from another boy. Just more confirmation to my 16-year-old mind of my insignificance. The evening of the tears I had had another awful run in with my Dad and it just put me over the edge.
There is one thing I am literally eternally grateful to my parents for above all else, and that is that they introduced me to and encouraged me to follow Jesus – to love him more than anything else in this world. I am so thankful they did not leave me to follow their example alone, but told me to base my life around THE perfect man, one who loved me so much he died for me. And so, since an early age, I have followed Jesus and believed God loved me, but at that moment, in the backseat of the car, I was suddenly unsure of all I had ever believed about Him. I didn’t even bother talking to Him as I was crying, losing my breath, bordering hyperventilation. I remember my thoughts,
“I am alone. No one hears me. No one sees me. No one cares that I’m crying or ever has. I don’t matter.”
Now I know who was speaking all that to me, but I was not as familiar with the schemes of satan then – he truly is a deceiver.
Two nights later, I was at church. The turmoil was raging inside, but I was doing well to hide it per usual. The service was ending and suddenly, out of the blue, a lady named Linda came up to me, I knew her, but not well. She said, “God wants me to tell you something.” I’m sure my face showed surprise and nervousness.
“He wants me to tell you that He hears you and sees every single tear that you cry. And that He is always with you and He loves you.”
He answered my every thought.
There are moments in life that God will bring us back to, moments that alter the course of our lives. For many of us, I believe, those moments tend to be born of tragedy and heartache. That night, when God spoke to me, was one of my moments. There has only been a handful of times God has chosen to speak to me so directly. I believe He did so that night because he knew I was going to struggle with those feelings more and I needed the solid truth of His words to fight the lies. And so I have.
Tragedy has been, and is still, so prevalent in the lives of so many around me the past few years. Some days I am overcome with tears while driving down the road just thinking about it all and praying for the families. The grief is measurable to me and I am only a bystander, at best, to some of their lives. I cannot imagine their pain. And in those moments, God has brought His words back to me from that night yet again… but not for me, for them… so, if you are facing tragedy or heartache, if you are crying out in anguish and feel your heartache is unimportant and your grief unheard, God wants me to tell you something.
“He wants me to tell you that he hears you and He sees every single tear that you cry. And that He is always with you and He loves you.”
I do not believe God is the author of tragedy. I believe all GOOD things come from God as we read in James 1:17, “ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” However, there is an enemy lurking about, a thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). In times of turmoil like I experienced as a teenager, at the point of incredible tragedy none of us can plan for, when we are stripped of what or who we hold most dear, the thief is hoping that he will come away with our very souls. But we are promised that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). So, as I mourn with others over their immense pain, I remember and trust that the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3) and that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).