The rain we are having in Raleigh echos the way that my tear-ducts have been feeling over the past month... a severe emptying. For a long time in my life I saw tears as weakness and difficult feelings as "non Christlike" somehow I was supposed to be able to walk through life without pain, and the pain that I did have was only helpful if stuffed way down inside until I could see the beauty of it.
Ya know where that left me, almost dead! When I was 21-22 I entered inpatient treatment for an eating disorder and got lots of therapy and help to deal with these misconceptions of truth. I grew and learned a ton and since then my life has not been easy, but has been full of pain and joy in many ways. I love it!
What I didn't realize is that I thought the learning I did then was complete. I thought that I now had wisdom and insight to share with others and that my family was fixed and my ability to express and understand myself was fixed... I knew that I needed to continue to be honest with my symptoms, but didn't think I had more emotional work to do... I had already done so much!
Well, Jesus has an alternative plan for my spiritual growth. I just can't escape the depths of God's desire for me to experience life to the full, which includes tears. I am currently leading a study on a book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, by Peter Scazzero and came across this exceprt from the Chronicles of Narnia:
Eustace, a young boy, becomes a big, ugly dragon as a consequence of being selfish, stubborn, and unbelieving. Now he wants to change and go back to being a little boy, but he can't do it himself. Eventually the great lion Aslan (representing Jesus) appears to him and leads him to a beautful well to bathe. But since he is a dragon, he can't enter the well.
Aslan tells him to undress. Eustace remembers that he can cast off his skin like a snake. He takes off a layer by himself , dropping it to the ground, feeling better. Then as he moves to the pool, he realizes that there is yet another hard, rough scaly layer still on him. Frustrated, in pain, and longing to get into the beautiful bath, he asks himself, "How many skins do I have to take off?"
After 3 layers, he gives up, realizing he cannot do it. Aslan then says, "You will have to let me undress you." To which Eustace replies:
I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desparate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right to my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt... Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off-- just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt-- and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft... The he caught hold of me... and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again... After a bit the lion took me and dressed me... with his paws... in these new clothes I'm wearing.
I'm sure that I am not done shedding layers, but its amazing to see the beauty in the pain and not to run from it. I don't like to doing the hard work of letting Jesus take away my darkest parts, but I will continue to do that and can think of no better way to live.