Tears of Joy
Two months ago, I had the opportunity to speak at a church not far from my hometown. I spoke on the topic of forgiveness – which is a draining conversation we all need to hear. So moved by the experience, it has taken me this long to be able to put into words the transformation that took place in my life that day.
I did write about my experience with God in the Wal-mart bathroom that afternoon (https://kandynolesstevens.com/2013/04/17/just-when-i-thought-i-was-safe/) but something much larger occurred that I have kept hidden in my heart until now. Something I didn’t know would ever be possible again.
I will confess that I did not ask one important question prior to the talk. I had spoken at several MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups previously, and each had the same format. I spoke for about forty-five minutes, after which the mommas broke into small groups for discussion and prayer. (The old adage about assuming applied here because this group expected me to talk for about an hour and half.)
I shared my talk on forgiveness, and it is an exhausting story. Being an innate hugger, I often want to stop and hug the women in the audience when they are crying at my retelling of events. They are crying with me and for me because my life story has touched something deep in their soul.
I know my story is powerful . . . even I am moved to tears at times when I speak because it is a challenge to look out and see no dry eyes. It is at those moments I realize that, “Wow God! I really did live this, and with your help we survived.”
When I realized that they desired for me to keep talking, I politely asked if I could share where my family was today and about how God was using our story. I shared about my children’s progress emotionally and physically. Then, I revealed snippets of my upcoming book, Notes from a Grieving Momma.
At the end, I opened the floor to questions. After hearing my story of forgiveness, I knew there would be many (why at the other MOPS events, I linger to answer, to hug, and to offer encouragement). It is difficult to describe that you could feel like you were catching-up with old friends whom you haven’t seen in a while when I was talking to strangers, but in God’s family the bonds grow strongly and quickly. We have a common Father, and we can sometimes skip over the small talk.
Then came the question that caused my knees to buckle. “You will let us know when we can pick up a copy of that book, right?” Followed by, “Please make sure that we can get a copy easily – this is a small town after all.” When I looked around the room every face was now smiling and nodding.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
As if on cue, immediately following my talk, my cell phone rang. The caller was the other person who could give these talks if he at all cared to speak in front of others – he does not – but his perspective would be equally life changing. My sweet husband waited patiently, timing when to call and ask, “So how did it go?”
I told him about the wonderful food, the engaged audience of mommas, meeting their adorable babes, the gift of love they gave me . . .
and then, I burst into tears.
I could hear in his voice concern. He knows the story having walked alongside me each step of the way. Was I crying because it was such a hard topic? Was I crying because I once again went back and relived it? What brought on the torrential downpour of salinated drops?
It took me a few moments before I could put it into one word.
Joy? I could tell from his voice that he had bigger concerns like had I lost my mind.
You know when God tells us that he wants – NO! he YEARNS – to give us the desires of our hearts, He MEANS IT. That day I knew what that felt like. Every synapse in my brain, every cell in my body, and every stirring of my soul was alive with God’s message for my life.
He allowed my faux pas to be used in a way that spoke loudly and clearly to my heart. I knew from early on that God does not give void to those whom he loves, and I knew that some way somehow God was going to use the pain of our lives’ stories to help others. How else would any of this make sense?
I knew never that it would come in the form of my desire to be a blessing to others. I never knew how deeply I needed the affirmations of strangers (now sisters) to tell me that God wants my (well, our) book and ministry to touch the lives of others.
I sat in my van, sobbing, confessing to my husband that flood gates to my heart had been opened – because even I didn’t know if I would ever truly be able to cry tears of joy again.
It was an amazing feeling!