It was a “sovereign” meltdown as we sat around the table passing around the phone and talking with Jess, one of 12 college friends who have been gathering together over the past 15 years since we graduated. We’ve celebrated each other’s joys and grieved each other’s losses. We’ve gone from late night giggles over crushes, crazy adventures, learning how to study the Bible together in college, growing in relationship with one another, to dancing at each others weddings, celebrating new babies, mourning broken relationships and watching each other grow as momma’s, friends, wives and daughters of the King. We all had a decision to make that weekend, would we bring our put together selves or our broken selves? Jess was one of 4 of the 12 of us who couldn’t make it for the weekend reunion, the first we’ve had in several years. But she spoke the words that brought about the sovereign meltdown that allowed me to bring my broken self to the table as the 7 other women present listened in and she shared an image she’d had of me as she was listening to the song “Come to the River” by Housefires II. The lyrics inviting…
Come to the water
all who are thirsty
Come and drink
Come to the table
all who are hungry
Come and feast
Those who are weary
Those who are needy
Come to the river
Come to the river
Taste and see…
While listening to this song, she’d had a vision of me with tears streaming down my face at the foot of Jesus, letting my hair wash His feet with my tears as he looked down and jewels of sapphire, rubies and other precious gems poured from the sky. Tears, I couldn’t hold back began to fill as she spoke and I began to break. “But, I don’t feel like he sees my tears”, was the cry welling up inside and then out. To which she replied, “But this is how he sees them.” These tears, the only offering I’ve had to give Him. I could hardly hold back the utter sobs welling up and trying to find their way out. Sobs that I had allowed myself to release and cry out on the beach, alone, as I let out my tired, my weary, my broken self to my King. The one I am angry with simply because of all I do not understand, and yet still deeply love. “Do you see me God? Where are you? Do you see these tears? I must know where you are in this.” I wanted to let them out with my friends who had gathered for the weekend. This was in fact the catalyst for the reunion in the first place. One of the 12 had buried two of their babies in the last two years and that was the rally cry that we needed to be together. How was I that one? I wish it had been none of us. We all had our broken, and yet they wanted to enter in and gather around mine. I didn’t know how to let them in and they didn’t fully know how to enter in. The unfamiliarity of grief is like that… for the one grieving and the ones who want to enter into the grieving. But people were praying, countless friends and family, for our weekend… for God’s presence to enter into this sacred place where 8 women who loved Jesus gathered to love one another.
Everything in me wanted to leave the room as the tears and sobs began to flow, yet it was as if the Lord’s gentle voice said “Stay, I want you to do this here.” I sensed He was entering into the cries I had just screamed at the wind and the waves on the beach, “Where are you God? Where were you?” as I sat in the chair and my friends saw for the first time the utter pain of loss pouring out, the lamenting cries for God’s presence, the unfiltered and unanswered questions that were on my heart now on my lips. As I looked up… I saw tears in their eyes as they surrounded me and simply sat with me in my pain. Their friend had buried two babies and there were certainly no words for that. It wasn’t how I thought it would happen, but Jesus brought my broken to the table. And throughout the weekend, in the midst of the deep laughter and joy, each one of us brought our own tired, weary and broken selves to the table too. Broken relationships, job loss, challenges in marriage, tired momma’s of littles in mere survival mode, trauma in families that had given way to fear, miscarriages, infertility, death, loneliness in community… we all had our broken. We all had those places where we were asking God to enter in and redeem and bring hope as only He can. All of us needed this tangible picture of Jesus loving us in our joys and heartaches. All of us needed to see how He sees our tears…. That simply HE SEES. That when our broken, our tears are often the only thing we have to bring to Him… perhaps that’s all He really wants. Our tired and weary selves.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
“For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burn offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” – Psalm 51:16,17
And so my friends sat with me, watched videos of Dasah with me, prayed with me, offered no empty platitudes, did not try to fix me… but entered in. And waves of relief, refreshment, healing washed over my soul. Underneath my cry that Jesus would see my tears was really the question… If you see them, why won’t you do something about them? But that day, He did do something with them. He let them pour out in front of friends who love me and so let me see His love. He let me see through the pain and tears in their eyes that YES, he sees me. YES, he weeps with me. YES, this is not how it was supposed to be, and YES, he will heal, restore and redeem. But first, would I let him continue to be simply with me in the pain through his people?
We all walked away a little more refreshed, a little more seen, a little more okay with our broken, a little more raw, a little more authentic that weekend. We brought our broken, not our fake put together selves, to each other and ultimately to our King and we sat with one another in those places of pain as Jesus sits with us. Our broken gave us freedom, brought moments of deep belly shaking laughs alongside the profound and broken cries. Our broken brought the blessing of the weekend. And we tasted together, just a little more deeply that truly…
“Blessed are the poor in spirit… for theirs is the kingdom of God.”
Jesus met us in our broken. Will you let him meet you in yours?