Last night’s run wasn’t fast. Or fun. Or pretty.
In fact, I had to stop, just before I hit 4 miles and ugly cry. The kind where your whole body is crying and you are making sounds that belong on a soundtrack for a Halloween movie about a haunted house or something and you are afraid if someone hears you that they will either call the police or an ambulance. Fortunately for me, it was after 10pm on a weeknight and I was basically alone in the street.
Yesterday, I was having some pretty big feelings. I’ve got stuff going on that I’m not really sure how to process. Longtime friends moving away. Changes in my “comfort zones”. Things that have “always been” are now over and I’m left feeling a little dizzy at everything happening at once. I know something big in my life is coming – but I can’t quite put my finger on what – and all of the uncertainty is making me want to scream into my pillow and have a tantrum.
So of course the fact that I haven’t been running lately is making it 100 times worse. Running has become where I find my balance. My peace. It’s where God speaks to my heart and I feel clarity. But for the last couple of weeks it has felt like a burden.
I don’t really have the motivation.
I look for excuse after excuse not to get my feet out the door.
I don’t feel the inner competitiveness or drive.
I just feel… “whatever”.
But I’m trying not to let those feelings win. So I’m pushing myself. I’ve asked my friends and family to push me as well. And last night after choir practice, a sweet friend of mine spoke some words of encouragement over me. So after I got home and put my kids to bed – I went running.
I was ok at first. It was just running. The sound of my music in my ears. The rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement. The quiet.
And then it got hot. And my legs started to burn as I ran uphill. The air felt thick and heavy in my chest. I kept going. I tried to block out all of the noise in my head telling me to just go home. To give up. I kept listening for God’s voice. For Him to speak to me as He has done time and time before. But instead of quiet everything was just loud. And I kept thinking of my friends who are leaving. I kept thinking of the changes taking place in my life. All of the uncertainty around me. And I just couldn’t bear it anymore. It was too much.
So I flopped down on the sidewalk, right next to the road, and under the bright headlights of the cars whizzing past me, cried so hard I was shaking.
In these moments, I let it all out. All of the confusion. All of the sadness. All of the guilt. I just let it go. And when I was done, I got up, wiped the tears from my eyes and finished the rest of my run.
I felt lighter. Faster. Freer. And then I heard God speaking to my heart.
Sometimes, you have to cry for it.
A while back I wrote a blog post called, You have to sweat for it, about how when something is really worthwhile, you have to work for it. Hard.
Tonight I learned that sometimes, you have to cry for it too.
I thought about all of those happy smiling pictures of myself that I’d posted after completing a run. How excited and proud I looked. How those didn’t always portray what I’d actually been feeling.
And then it made me think of the rest of my life. How I only want people to see the smile. Never the tears. How I never want to feel the hurt. How I want to move past and pretend like it isn’t there.
Like when my husband was gone for 3 months and I was alone with my kids and had broken my wrist. I spent plenty of time telling everyone how strong we were, how we were doing great, how I was managing just fine (which was true)…but I never told anyone about the time I had to text my neighbor at to come over at 10:30 at night because I needed help and she found me scrubbing vomit, one-handed, out of the carpet, dry-heaving sobbing to myself, while my 7 month old baby sat in an empty tub covered in puke because I couldn’t figure out how to clean him or myself because if I removed my brace, which was also covered, then I couldn’t move my arm, and everything I touched just got more puke on it and I didn’t know what to do…(which was also true)…
The day my son was born I posted all of the standard new baby photos with the happy smiling mom and baby…but left out the part where I was so overcome with pain from my natural delivery,which happened way too fast, that both my husband and the doctor had to scream at me to stop crying, open my eyes and look at the baby I had just delivered…
How often do we mask the hurt? Why do we feel like everything has to be perfect all of the time and that’s the only side of ourselves we are willing to share with others?
Sometimes I think it’s because tears have become a sign of weakness. Today’s culture makes it seem like to cry is to somehow be lesser. Not as strong. Not as good.
But I’m reminded that even Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
Many Biblical Scholars have debated just exactly what He was crying about – whether it was literally the death of His friend Lazarus, or whether it was a more weighty weeping over the faithlessness of all mankind…whatever it was – it moved Him to tears. And that certainly was not a revelation of a weakness, but rather a revelation of His humanity.
There is a time for crying.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
So the next time it hurts – just feel it. Embrace it. Sit down and ugly cry it out. Don’t try to push it away.
When you lose your job.
When someone disappoints you.
When your best friend lies to you.
When your spouse betrays you.
When a loved-one passes away.
When your life is a mess and you don’t know how to get out of it.
When your heart is broken.
When your soul is weary.
Just take a moment and let yourself feel it. And weep.
Sometimes our instinct is to pray away the pain. To ask God to take it from us because we cannot bear it. But sometimes, removing the pain is not God’s will for us. Sometimes we need to feel it. So that in Him, we can rise above it.
Sometimes you have to cry for it. So don’t pretend like you don’t. Don’t be afraid to share the tears with others. You never know how your tears could be where they find their strength.
But don’t just stay there, crying. Hurting.
Get back up. And then finish your run.
Some might wonder why I even have these pictures. It’s to remind myself that not everything is perfect. Not every moment is joyful. That in life, you have to take the good with the bad. They help me remember.
But they also give me hope.
One day our pain will be over. There will be no more crying. And knowing that, gives me the strength to endure. It won’t hurt forever.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).