Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Gift of Tears

I've found myself crying, or near tears, a lot more often recently. But these aren't normal tears - they aren't tears of self-pity or sadness or joy for something happening in my life. They have to do with the transformation going on inside of me. These days, I can't even get through mass without tearing up.

Friday evening, driving home from work, I was reflecting on Jesus' passion. All of a sudden, I was sobbing, moved by how much He must have loved us, even in the midst of our darkest hour - condemning and killing our Savior. It's something I've thought about before, but that night, it hit me hard. I wanted to make it up to Him, but my whole life's work is not even enough. I was reminded of Mother Teresa's vow to refuse nothing to Christ. Really, isn't that the only acceptable response?

This isn't the first time I've been overcome to the point of tears...

I distinctly remember a moment from my confirmation retreat in 8th grade. We were spread out throughout the dimly-lit cathedral, praying individually. The retreat leaders came around to each of us, asked what we'd like to pray for, and then joined us in prayer for a few minutes. When my turn came, I burst into tears. I was overwhelmed by two things:
  1. As we entered the cathedral for this quiet prayer time, we were handed a small sheet of paper with a letter typed out - something like this (I wish I could find the actual one!). The "letter" was written from Jesus, explaining how much He loves us individually and wants to be with us, even though He reaches out to us a million times and we don't respond.
  2. This stranger wanted to pray for MY intentions. She had never met me before, but she took the time to ask, "What can I pray for?", and then sat with me and prayed for me, for my family, and I don't know what else. To tell the truth, I was so overcome that I couldn't think of anything specific to ask her to pray about!
This was my first real encounter with both Jesus' unique love for me, as described in the letter, and another's openness to pray with and for me. By offering to pray for me, she showed me what Christ's love looks like. It was beautiful! ...and more than I could handle.

Two more teary-eyed moments were during retreats in college (the Awakening retreat I talked about in my post on Aggie Catholics). My freshman year, I was overcome by the sacrifice of the students running the retreat - giving up their weekend to be there for us and welcoming us where we were, with open arms. After the initial excitement of the retreat, we had time for confession and quiet reflection. The only light in the room came from the candles we set in the shape of a cross. I once again saw Jesus' love poured out through others.

The other time, I was a sophomore, giving a talk during the retreat. The support I got from the other students, in hand-written notes, small gifts, and a group prayer over me before I spoke really did me in. They showered me with thoughts and prayers, again revealing the depths of Jesus' love. (I'll post my talk some other time!)

These moments were some of the most poignant of my faith journey. They occurred when I was being transformed, renewing my dedication to know, love, and serve God. I've always had a relationship with God the Father, but I tend to keep Jesus at a distance. I can't fathom how much He endured, and sometimes I don't feel like our salvation was worth it.

But in these moments that bring me to tears, I can't escape His love. He chose to die for us, freely. That's a gift I'm trying to accept. As much as I don't like crying, I'm drawn to these encounters, both feeling Christ's love through others and being Christ to others. I can't back away, because I'd really be missing out. My tears mean I'm growing in love.

So...hi Jesus, and thank You!

St. John Lateran - Rome, Italy

No comments:

Post a Comment