Updated: May 16, 2020
Today was the first morning that I was home alone while both my kids were at school. I’ve been looking forward to this moment – excited to have a little time to breathe and think. So how did I spend my first morning of freedom? I sat on the couch and cried.
I wasn’t really sure why I was crying. It wasn’t that I was sad that my kids are growing up. I actually enjoy watching them develop and move into new phases of life. I was just overcome with emotion that I couldn’t quite pinpoint right away. Instead of wiping away the tears and moving on, I let myself sit and weep. I was alone in my house after all. There was no one around to see me and think that I had lost my mind. (Maybe you think that now, but keep reading anyway.)
I used to apologize for crying. I didn’t like that the tears came so easily. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m frustrated. I cry when I’m grateful. I cry for a lot of reasons. While I used to think it was a curse, I’ve come to believe that my tears are actually a spiritual gift. If I listen to my tears, rather than simply wiping them away, I will hear that they are alerting me to something important. They might be pointing me to deep pain that I’ve tried to cover up. They might point me to fears that I’ve let control me. Or they might point me to something sweet that God is trying to show me.
As I sat on my couch and cried today, I was reminded of another time seven years ago when I sat on my couch in an empty house and cried. It was a different couch, a different house, a different circumstance, but the tears flowed in much the same way. I had just found out the night before that I was pregnant – six weeks after I got married. That wasn’t part of the plan. We weren’t ready to have a baby. We were scared. But God had a different plan.
Eight months later – before we had even celebrated our first anniversary – Ava was born. As I held that tiny baby in my arms, I knew that God had given us the sweetest surprise. Sometimes God knows what we need even when we don’t realize it.
Then, two years ago, I shed more tears as I sat in a middle seat on an airplane between two strangers. I was minding my own business, reading a book, when God interrupted to tell me to quit my job. It came out of nowhere. It was never part of my plan to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom. I loved my job and had worked so hard to get to where I was. Why would I give that up? And once again, the timing seemed terrible.
I cried a lot more over the next week as I wrestled with the decision I was about to make. I kept looking for assurance that this was the right move. I wanted a sign that everything would fall into place. But all I received was the confidence that God had spoken clearly and the knowledge that I needed to obey.
As I stepped into another unexpected season, I realized that God had given me another sweet surprise. The past two years have been just what I never knew I needed. The extra time with my kids, the space to write, and the opportunities to connect with others have all been such a gift.
Today, I recognize that those moments of crying on the couch seven years ago and crying on the plane two years ago have led me to this moment of crying on the couch this morning. Those sweet surprises have led me to this new season. I don’t know what’s to come. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my life. But I know that God has been with me and that he’s been directing my path. He’s been so faithful to provide what I didn’t know I needed. So I trust that he will continue to be faithful in each new season.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6