The first time I read this passage in John I about fell flat on my face. I didn't realize what I had grown accustomed to doing when reading my Bible and it lead to some pretty difficult internal dialogue. My prayer at that time was this:
Father, I don't know how this all got so twisted and distorted but I have managed to take Your Word and dissociate it from You. So now I have to learn how to see You in it, so that I can abide in You and come to You so that I can live. I have to deal with the things I just moved past and let you have at them to fix and mend what is broken. I know this is going to hurt but I also know that You will comfort me through it.
It wasn't until I wrote out these verses in my journal that I saw what I had been doing. I was looking for Jesus in the transcripts of His life and expecting those transcripts to fix a lot of things. It would almost be like going to trial and expecting a verdict without giving it to the judge or jury to determine the outcome. I seemed to have become very good at looking for the answers but not asking the One who would ultimately give them. Needless to say, there was a major malfunction in my theological application of Scripture.
I was forced to take a look at why this happened, maybe attempt to figure out how it happened, and then respond to it in a way that would prevent it from happening in the future. I was forced to look at unanswered prayers, hurtful experiences, and painful memories. I had to accept that instead of giving Jesus my broken heart, I took His words and covered my world with band-aids that I wrote His thoughts on. If someone had hurt me I reminded myself that I had to forgive as I had been forgiven. If a prayer was going unanswered, I repeated the truth that God had a plan for my life and it was for my good not my harm. And if a painful memory shot up, I focused on the fact that He works out all things for good. Sadly, I labeled all of this 'spiritual maturity.' It sounded good, at least to me, until I realized I had suppressed every emotion a human being made in the image of God was created to feel. I wasn't honest with myself, I wasn't honest with others, and I surely was not being honest with God.
In her book The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp writes, "And this is always the choice: pain demands to be felt or will demand you feel nothing at all." That was a moment of revelation for me. I didn't have a choice anymore. I had to start dealing with my stuff.
I'm not going to unpack suitcases here, but this section of Scripture has started a revolution of sorts in me. Learning how to express my emotions, particularly without the fear of abandonment, has been at the top of my to do list. It's not easy....when you are the constant peacemaker and just want things to be simple, expressing hurt feelings is not an easy task because it rocks the boat. And let me make this perfectly clear, I'm not talking about mean words here. I'm talking about things said in non~threatening ways that hit straight to the core of who you are as a person and makes light of them. For example, from childhood through today, I will fall asleep anywhere, at any time, especially in a movie theater. Lights go out and I'm asleep in minutes. This only got worse over time with lupus. Exhaustion is just generally a part of my life. But when it becomes the constant butt of jokes, and it's not something you can help or fix with any amount of sleep, it gets quite tiresome. But telling someone they said something that hurt your feelings generally leads to a defensive reaction. So I've just kept quiet, built up walls, ignored anything that left a mark, and just moved past it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I walk around 'offended' constantly. But I couldn't even be honest with God about my feelings and He's the One I should be taking it all to in the first place so that He can help me process it and be at peace with who I am and how He's created me. Sadly that wasn't even on my radar. Thankfully, it now is. But it's a process and sometimes it feels like turning the syrup bottle upside down and waiting for the last of it to slide down the sides and just come out.
So, no, I still have not had a good, solid cry. I've had tears roll down my cheeks over a couple of difficult moments, but I haven't 'cried' in years. From what I can remember of the last time, it was early 2011. I feel it welling up, and I know it's going to be ugly when it happens, but when that floodgate finally busts wide open, I have a feeling that those cleansing waters and going to wash away a lot of baggage that's moved from one place to the next.
If you like me are one that keeps things bottled up, I humbly suggest that you begin by taking it all to Jesus. Not searching the Scriptures for Him, just go straight to the source. I've got a journey ahead of me that feels a bit overwhelming at times, but I also know that in the end, this one will be well worth it.