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Recently, midway through the ten hour drive home from our annual summer pilgrimage to Memphis, buns numb and legs aching to be anything but bent, I was devouring Shauna Niequist’s book Bread & Wine (if you’re not a fan of Shauna already I highly recommend her lovely, honest writing) when I stumbled on a phrase that got me thinking. On page 74 she says these words, “…tears are a guide…when something makes you cry, it means something. If we pay attention to our tears, they’ll show us something about ourselves.”
I don’t know if you’re like me (probably not, I’m pretty weird), but I don’t really enjoy crying. And I definitely don’t like for other people to see me cry. I know, I know, sometimes it’s therapeutic and you just need a good cry. But generally speaking, I just don’t like it. So I’ve spent years ignoring my tears, and I’ve certainly never allowed them to be a guide–using them to help me find my passion and calling. So this was a revolutionary concept indeed. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, Um, yes! How could I have been so dense all these years?
Back in 2009, when we were missionaries to India, a group of young adults came over on a short-term trip to work with us. While there, they visited a school that was located in a heart-rending slum and for many of the children the only food they received for the day was what they got at school. When the team arrived the well the school had been using had run dry and the children were going hungry because the staff couldn’t prepare their meals. Instantly, the team got together, each person gave, and they raised the money to dig a new well. That act of generosity still brings tears to my eyes.
I don’t like to think about children going hungry or a mother having to bury her child because she doesn’t have access to clean water. That makes me cry and it makes me angry.
A few days earlier on our trip my husband, Jonathan, and I had sat down with our two kids to present an opportunity. He had earned some money mowing lawns with his brother and we wanted to instill some principles of giving and generosity in the hearts of our kids. Eyes wide, they yelped when he said he wanted to give them each one hundred dollars. Their smiles flickered a little when he said, “But…this money is for you to give away, and we want you to pray about what God wants you to do with it.”
The next morning they came to us, wearing smiles as wide as stretched taffy, and said they wanted to start a family savings account to raise enough money to dig a well in Africa. That, my friends, brought tears to my eyes.
What makes you cry? Have you thought about your tears being a guide before? Could they be leading you towards what God has uniquely gifted you to do? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.