A few weeks ago, over an emotional conversation, I told a friend, "I'm surprised I'm not crying right now. I've cried, or at least teared up, pretty much every day for the past few months."
And it’s true. The hard of the past year has brought me to a place where tears seem as though they are ready and waiting at any moment. I never was that person: a crier. I never was her. But now, maybe I am.
The next day, sitting on my couch, reading a book about how God does what He says He will do, about how God always answers prayers, I teared up again. That all too familiar burning behind my eyelids and simultaneous hardening in my throat. I closed my eyes and let the emotion rise. And fall.
It often happens that way. The saddness rising, full and intense, and then, nearly as quickly, it begins to fade leaving only a dampness in my eyes and ache in my heart.
I sighed. There it was for today. Would I ever again make it through I day without tears?
But at the same time this thought sighed its way through my tired brain, I turned my focus to noticing. Noticing the tears. Noticing the sudden surge of emotion. Noticing the when and the how and knowing that if I noticed and waited, just maybe the Holy Spirit would whisper the why into my heart.
And in this moment, He did.
I don’t remember quite when, so maybe it was just always this way, but I learned to be pretty good at holding my tears. Holding on to them till a more appropriate time. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that the problem with tears is that they don’t work like this.
Emotions surge at times I often expect them the least and if I don’t allow myself to feel them in the moment, they often never come at all.
I held in tears over my grandfathers death so many times, that when the funeral finally came, and it was “time” to cry, I couldn’t. I still have never cried over his death.
As years have passed, I’ve grown to hate this part of myself. And more than a few times, I’ve found myself pleading with God that He teach me to cry. That He would allow me to release the emotions bottled up inside me at the right times.
I’ve begged Him to grant my heart the release and relief of tears.
I want to cry in joy and in pain. I want to cry for myself and I want to cry with others. I want tears to come and I want them to mean that I’m letting down my walls, the ones I’ve built so high and strong.
I noticed and I waited. And He answered.
”This is what you prayed for.” He whispered. I’m answering.”
The tears filled my eyes again.
And once again, I knew that He answers. That He really, truly, absolutely, completely, for sure answers prayers.
I used to think that if I felt nothing, saw no answer, heard no voice during prayer or immediately after, then it meant the prayer was answered no. Maybe I didn’t consciously think that, but I felt it deep down, and I often lived like it was true.
The tearing of this past year and the chronicling of when He speaks has shown me a truth I never really saw before.
God answers prayer. He does. He really truly does.
The reason we miss it so often is that by the time our answer does come, we’ve forgotten that we prayed for it in the first place. And so we don’t notice.
But if we take the time to make note and take note and notice, we will find that God answers prayers all the time. He really does.
I think I first prayed for tears in high school, over ten years ago. And once again, I’m tearing up just writing these words, because the realization that He answers is simply so overwhelming.
It’s not often immediate. It’s sometimes different than how I imagine. But it is real. He answers.
And on a random Tuesday, early in the Christmas season, the Holy Spirit whispered into my heart to remind me that my tears were an answered prayer.