I Cry Freely – By Joy Zomer
I have been broken. Today, I cry freely. I am at peace that God uses these two truths for God’s glory and to bring me closer to God. Let me explain.
Nine years ago, I was a missionary wife, the mother of three young children, living and serving in Rome, Italy. I believed that I was living according to God’s plan for my life. I was physically strong, mentally adept, and confident that no matter what the situation I was brought into, things would “work out for the best.” I was one of those eternally optimistic people who always encourage everyone to be a better self. Crying was NOT something I often allowed myself. I had no need to cry; I had never dealt with something I couldn’t handle.
Eight years ago, I became a broken woman and mother and crying became commonplace. My two-year-old daughter Ellie and I were hit by a car driven by a distracted driver while taking our morning jog together. With that event, the first cracks in my carefully constructed world revealed themselves. My daughter’s injuries came within 3 centimeters of her heart and included a ruptured spleen. Mine finished my days as a want-to-be long distance runner with substantial changes in my left knee. A part of her…of me…was literally torn away.
Our collective recoveries were slow and draining. Ellie suffered in the hospital for a period of time. She came home with trauma and scars that live on. Watching her recover and feeling her distress was sometimes more than I thought I could handle. I had two knee surgeries within months of each other and toiled to get back the mobility and strength on which I prided myself. Crying, something I had always disdained, became my friend and daily companion. I was broken and didn’t know how to get past it.
THE CRACKS OF OUR WORLD
In the meantime, the cracks of our world as a family and a marriage continued to grow. Five years ago found our family divided and separated. My daughter’s injuries proved to be more perplexing than first deciphered, and I moved back to the United States with all three children and five suitcases. We searched out answers and began a new life in America. The cracks that had begun with our world-shattering accident became a rift that would not heal. Consequently, within another two years, I was an official single parent and on my own with three children.
I felt ripped from those I loved and cared for in our ministry in Italy, and I sailed bereft on an ocean of sadness. Broken and weeping, I struggled for a hope in the God I believed in. I cried freely now because I felt such pain and sadness in my world and weeping for it gave release to that pain. I also cried because I now had eyes to glimpse how deeply grief can scar and thus I gave homage to this pain. I couldn’t get over how sad it was that my children had lost their family structure, how my daughter was changed for a lifetime, how I had lost my life’s passion. Everything had all gotten so muddled up!
My life didn’t end five years ago. God brought me through it. Over the years, my crying has become less about me and my grief, and, more importantly, about the goodness which flows from our Father’s love for us, for me. God blessed our lives when we felt only loss. God built up joy, when we saw only sadness. Little by little, God rebuilt our lives with love and compassion from others.
We were living in borrowed housing when one neighbor began sharing with me her passion for growing flowers and vegetables. Another lassoed my son into helping with “jobs” and other things around the neighborhood. A friend of a friend spoke to a prospective employer for me, and, although I had not taught in the United States for years, I was hired as a teacher of an innovative new program for at-risk teens in a nearby community. The position allowed me to provide permanent housing for my family. Because I had little to my name, family and friends shared furniture and household items to uplift and hold our family firm in the stormy seas that continued to rock our boat. Little by little, our lifeboat was righting itself again.
Today, I have been broken and I cry freely. Hearing of a friend’s wife who recently passed away of breast cancer makes me cry. Reading in the newspaper of the senseless killings of a pregnant woman and her boyfriend brings tears to my eyes. On the other hand, singing along to a favorite praise song also brings weeping that embarrasses my children and gets me “the look!” A kind gesture by a co-worker or rejoicing with a student who chooses goodness over selfish choices produces tears as well. The pain and despair over the brokenness in my life experience allows me to share life with others in pain and despair. The gift of God’s hand in mine every day gives me voice to cry for the beauty of love and grace in each moment.
My mother asked me not too long ago if I wished the accident never happened. My answer was a resounding “No.” I have been given the gift of being guided by a God who never leaves me. I have been broken and I can cry freely. I no longer see the world as a place where I must conquer and achieve, but as a place where I cling to my life raft and move through life with my hand in God’s hand. These truths make me better able to live and work for God and be present in the lives of others.
MULLING IT OVER: The author says, “Crying was NOT something I often allowed myself. I had no need to cry; I had never dealt with something I couldn’t handle.” Have you ever had a time when you came across something you couldn’t handle? What did you do? What did you learn?