Tag Archives: tears

Grief

Who am I anymore?

I’m not sure.

I thought I knew who I was. On the about page of this blog I confidently wrote about who I felt myself to be.

I thought I went through this identity crisis 4 or 5 years ago when I first moved to Thailand. I thought I worked through it again three years ago that month I went home in October. I thought I processed who I was when I started college two years ago.

I wanted to write, to blog, for quite a while to dump out my feelings. But I didn’t trust myself. I’m still not sure if I do.

The month of November was anything but normal. Because of some things I believe and some of the values I hold, I had to say some really hard things to someone I cared for. It was like holding a knife to a living part of me. It hurt. Like crazy. I cried like never before and slumped into a blurred sort of depression. I started doubting my identity. I started doubting what I believed.

And then I got really mad at God.

I’m ashamed to say the reasons. But I asked God why he even let me hold these values like this? Why did He give me these convictions? Why did he let good things come into my life and then snatch them away? Why did He put me in this place at this time? Wouldn’t it have been much less painful if He hadn’t? What would it be like to be a “normal” person? Why did I have to say things I didn’t want to say?

Then one evening when gathered with friends, on a day I was feeling especially angry, a friend shared a poem and a verse with us. The poem was about how God sends people into your life, each person for a reason. It talked of how we are at a certain place at a certain time for a reason. And then he read off the verse from Esther 4:14 where Mordecai tells Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther wasn’t a normal person either. Maybe she wished she hadn’t come from the place she did, or carried the convictions she did. Maybe she wished that she could just be like the people around her. When she came into that palace, I’m sure she doubted whether she was at the right place at the right time. Maybe she loved someone else before she married the king. Maybe she got mad at God too.

I would have.

But God placed her, uniquely her, in the palace at just the right time. If she would have denied her values and her people, her story would have been vastly different. Thousands of people would have died.

As for myself, I still don’t understand why this had to happen. I don’t know if I ever will.

But maybe, maybe I can start believing that God lets each thing happen for good and for a reason. Maybe I can start trusting that God is good and He knows what He’s doing. Maybe I can start believing that the plan He has in mind is much better than anything I could have imagine.

It still hurts. But maybe I can at least start.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Lines

Even after five years, sometimes I feel like I am lost in a tangle of language, culture, traditions, national borders.

Why was I born on this side of white and you were born on that side of brown?

The river of words that runs in my heart is not the same as the river of words that runs in your heart, though there are times the rivers mingle, when languages come together.

Why are you called Vietnamese and I am called American? Why are you called Thai and I am called “Farang?” Why are you called Karen and I am called Caucasian?

Why was I born where the world was bright and hope sprang unbidden in my heart and you felt only the crushing of loneliness and the thwarting of choices from the day you were born?

Why was I born with the weight of a culture on my shoulders I feel obliged to carry, a weight that is different from the weight you carry? And perhaps you feel no obligation to carry?

Why are you the other, and I am the one? Or I am the other and you are the one?

Why are our worlds dictated by the little books in our pockets that we call passports, that identify us?

Or do they?

Where are the lines where spirit surpasses language, where kindness goes beyond cultural borders, where hope speaks across lines enforced by countries?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 (ESV)

What exactly does this mean? Five years ago I had more answers than I do now.

All the Words

All the words, they are a part of the story

They are the voices, the power, the offspring

Of this breaking, this piling,

This river of aching—

All the words

 

All the words, they are power in torrents

While I hunt like a bruin in a cascade tidal

They spiral in the air, but glistening slip

Through fingers there—

All the words

 

All the words, they speak life to me

That this child of rivers can face the shaken days

That I am known and filled in all the empty spaces

In all the aching places—

All the words

Truth Spoken

Who you are and what you say and what you believe does not change who I am:

I am a child of God.

When my heart is raw and overwhelmed, even then I know:

I am a child of God.

He has set my feet on dry ground. He sings songs of deliverance around me:

I am a child of God.

Even when people who call themselves by God’s name dishonor Him, no matter:

I am a child of God.

Jesus died for me. His blood still covers me:

I am a child of God.

He believes this, and she believes that, and they believe this. Yet:

I am a child of God.

The world hurts and the world cries and I wonder why, why, why? Still:

I am a child of God.

They say “where is your God,” and I cannot answer, but I know inside:

I am a child of God.

I fall down. I fall down. I fall down, again and again. But I know:

I am a child of God.

 

Who you are and what you say and what you believe does not change who I am:

I am a child of God.

When Tears Become a Language

Sometimes as I travel home late at night on my motorbike I feel a sense of camaraderie with those other late night travelers as we stop at a stoplight, waiting for the warmth of the green signal again and then shooting off again in the night, going for home, wherever it is. Sometimes I feel lonely as I round the curve under the glare of the streetlight with no other vehicle in sight. Sometimes I feel exhilarated with the speed and the wind on my face and the deep night sky in the few places stars are visible.

But usually its sadness, the inexplicable burden that rises in the darkness of a half sleeping city and hovers over my soul as I sweep along the snaking three lane highway at night. Sadness, that grips and coils like the tentacles of a giant octopus with no explanation for its heaviness. Sadness, with no story to foretell its coming and no voice behind its burden. Just sadness. It clings over my soul like the smog clings to the city in the daytime. A sense of melancholy, but more an ache.

Sometimes sadness brings a song, a dirge. This has nothing of the sort. This is only a cloud hanging over my soul, caught from the winds blowing from the heart of the city, the true heart. It is the cloud that collects the dust of unbelief, the ashes of hope burned unrestored, and the fog of fear from a world caught in senseless cycle of animism and materialism.

Man cannot drive it away. No amount of positive thinking or meditation or even goodness will cleanse this smog of sadness without the cleansing rain of the Maker of Hope.

It creeps around my soul. I lift my eyes to the sky, let the tears fall and cry out for those who, too, have become my people and whose storyless sadness numbs my own soul.  These tears become the medium and the voice for the sadness of these people whose sin has burned into existence this cloud. The cry echoes out of the emptying streets of sleeping Chiang Mai, swirls above the hundreds of exquisite and grotesque temples, circles the mountains and the high places where thousands worship each day, and climbs, climbs, climbs the heavens to the very throne of God.

And at the right hand of the throne, stands One who intercedes for those whose sadness has finally been given voice. Even if only through tears.

 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26