So, in a bit of sequence, here is how it went:
And Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
Jesus said: Father, I thank you for hearing me. (John 11:41)
There was nothing in between the weeping of Jesus and the prayer of thanks to the Father for hearing Him. No "please raise Lazarus." or "Bring my friend back to life." or anything of the like. From Jesus' weeping straight to gratitude for being heard.
So often, when the tears are coming it is because I feel abandoned, forgotten, ignored. I wonder if God hears my prayers, sees my pain, even cares at all. In my head I know that He does, but my heart and soul just don't feel it. And I wondered, if our tears can be lenses through which we see Jesus, can they also be words that we are unable to say offered in prayer to God that He is able to hear? It seems from today's gospel that they are. In my search to find an image to include with this post, I came across this, supporting my interpretation of today's gospel (in my humble opinion):
|(If you are looking for this in your bible or online, if you are using a Catholic bible it is Psalm 56:9, 56:8 is the reference in a Protestant bible and is what was on this image when I found it.)|
E. commented that perhaps my tears were not feeling sorry for myself, but rather sorrow, and I've been trying to think about them differently. I've spent much time in the last few days reflecting on my tears and many of the emotions of infertility in a new light. I've been struggling with where these reflections are leading me, as I'm not arriving at the place of clarity and understanding that I desire. I have resisted this experience of sorrow. Sorrow being different from sadness, a deeper experience than sadness; one that sticks around. Though I have fought the sadness, too.
I've told myself countless times that I have no right to be sorrowful. I have so many blessings in my life, how dare I have sorrow over the one thing that I do not have.
I've compared my suffering to others - even feeling extreme guilt for suffering over this at all. I mean, I am not dying, I do not have a debilitating illness, and I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. All leading to the conclusion that I have no right to be sad, let alone sorrowful. I realize this is not a healthy approach, for if we should not let comparison steal my joy, I suspect I should also not let comparison steal my sorrow either. Yet the latter is more difficult for me.
I can't explain to others clearly why infertility hurts so badly, I don't understand it myself. I've faced many disappointments in my life, didn't get many things that I wanted, and yet, infertility is different. It is almost impossible to explain.
Then, there is the shame. The shame in answering the question "how many children do you have with?" with zero. The shame in allowing infertility to consume so much of my life. While it doesn't consume it all, not a portion of a day goes by without it entering my mind, without a reminder and having to deal with the emotions of that reminder. Sometimes when I lay down at night the only prayer I can muster is that the next day I will be granted a morning or an afternoon in which I don't think about my inability to have children; about my brokenness. There is so much shame in how much this has consumed my life, and yet no matter how hard I try, it doesn't get better - the consuming or the shame.
There is shame in the sorrow. So while I've come to realize my tears were not tears of self-pity, but rather of sorrow, the shame is still there. I am embarrassed that when someone says something that is truly kind and helpful, that I feel sad and sorrowful instead of grateful; I am embarrassed that when someone announces a pregnancy, I am filled with sorrow for my own lack, even amidst my joy for them. Once again, I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
I don't have answers to this shame, sorrow, suffering trifecta that seems to be enveloping me these days, I am trying to remind myself of these two things: My tears are lenses through which to Jesus and they are prayers that I am unable to speak, but that God, hears, understands and answers according to His will. These tears that I am ashamed of, these emotions that I don't know what to do with that spill out of my eyes without my permission, perhaps they are an even greater grace than I realize?