Posts Tagged ‘cry’

On Wednesday I cried.
I cried a lot.
My heart felt broken.
I knew there was hope.
I know there still is.
But I had to grieve.
I had to mourn.
Just like one of my favorite movies (Inside Out) shows sometimes we need to feel sad.
I didn’t cry because I was so sad Hillary Clinton didn’t win.
But I did cry because Donald Trump won.
There is so much misunderstanding right now.
I’m still very confused.
I’d love for you to read why I cry.
I hope no one feels attacked by my words.
They are in no particular order.
No matter if you cried or not, I’d love to hear your heart.

I cry because the KKK wants to hold a celebratory parade because of Donald Trump’s victory. He may have denounced them once, but I cry because I don’t see him denounce them daily. I don’t see it publicly. I don’t hear it loudly. He now has a whole lot of power and a whole lot of people watching and I cry because I don’t see him using it to bring equality to the races. I cry because every one of my nieces and nephews will have darker skin than me, and though none have been born yet, they will all be just as valuable as I am.

I cry because I live with and love people who have immigrated to this country both legally and illegally. I know them. I love them. I know why their parents brought them here. I want them to be safe. I want others to be safe too. I do not want them “sent back home” because this is the only home they remember. When you come before kindergarten it isn’t really your choice.

I cry because of shame. I’m afraid I won’t be personally effected. Don’t get confused. I don’t want pain, or to be degraded, or to feel unsafe. I only wish we really were equal. I wish my roommate felt safe walking home in our neighborhood at night, but instead she’s staying with friends in another part of town this week because she has dark skin and feels the people around here are unpredictable right now.

I cry because I am so grateful for my faith and the freedom to worship in my country and I am nervous what could happen. Many Muslims are scared. I am scared for them. And I’m scared for me. I will fight for their freedom to worship. If I will not fight for theirs who will fight for mine? Sure, I’d love it if everyone believed the same things as me, but I most definitely do not want to force people to share my beliefs. Don’t you see…if it’s not a choice it’s not a true belief.

I cry because we have become so divided. Us vs them, left vs right, pro-life vs pro-choice, dems vs reps, him vs her. I don’t always fit into a party or a group. I grew up as a third culture kid. I know what it is to not fit in. I know what it is to have views that people don’t understand because they’ve never heard of them let alone experienced them. I’m willing to be patient while people ask borderline offensive questions if they truly are trying to understand. In my life it’s been “do you speak African?” “Are there tigers in your backyard?” “If you’re from Africa how come your white?”…the list goes on… now there are different questions. Questions that cross party lines. I’m afraid people will be too scared to ask them. I’m afraid people will go on living in the seclusion of their bubble and not try to ask, hear, listen, and learn from the “other side”. Two sides are not enough. So many of us are like third culture kids – caught or bouncing or stuck somewhere in the middle.

I cry because my 2 brothers at black and brown. I’ve had nightmares of one getting shot. I’ve witnessed both of them experience racism. Just one example each is one being referred to in a derogatory way as Mexican (though he is not) the other being questioned for being in a church (when he was 6) because “they do come in sometimes” the lady who was questioning him told my mom. I clearly know that racism has been around long before our president elect, but I am afraid of people thinking now that what was done in secret is ok to do in public. I’m afraid of people feeling confident using the N word, touching women inappropriately, telling a transgender person that he or she is not valuable or worthy, or making fun of someone with a disability. I’m afraid things like the Black Lives Matter movement will be targeted and discredited even more now than they were before.

I cry for my housemates who went to bed Tuesday night wondering what they would do without health insurance. Wondering if there is an insurance group that will cover them if Obamacare gets repealed. Schizophrenia and Crohn’s are not something insurance companies often want to cover.

I cry because I have always been the optimist. I’ve always had hope. I have to believe people can get better. I believe my friends in jail can, I believe my friends without houses can, I believe my friends stuck in addiction can, I believe my friends who have, but don’t understand privilege can… but I didn’t want to believe our president elect could. I just wanted to be angry. I cried because my heart was hard.

I cry because people are misrepresented. As I talked to a white, middle class, evangelical christian man at church today my eyes brimmed with tears again as we discussed what could be next. He, as I, has felt targeted by the media for being the cause, when he didn’t want it either. As we discussed our fear for his gay son and my black brother we were saddened by the fact that media says we chose this simply because some people who share our faith voted for this.

I cried really hard when I read articles making fun of those crying after the election. The tears are real, they are not a show. Please be gracious. Recognize there is a time to mourn. There is a time for fear. We will pick up the broom and keep sweeping the mess after we have mourned, but please, oh please, don’t make fun of the tears. The protests are one of the freedoms of this nation. Give them space. Please don’t think I approve of of violence and vandalism. But a peaceful protest may be someones best way to mourn, to say they are hurting, to share their fears…

I cry as I ask, are we more divided? Or has our division simply been brought to light? My hope and prayer is that we choose to acknowledge the pain. Acknowledge the fear. That Christians would live out what Jesus commands to love like He loves…to the outcast, the hurting, the broken, the most degraded and say that because of Him they are worthy. I hope we will be willing to lay down our comfort for those who need comfort. I hope we will admit our wrongs and apologize for them. I hope that we will be willing to stop trying to hide our nation’s problems and start finding ways to work together to deal with them.

I can’t say that my tears are done.
But I do promise to fight for today.
And tomorrow I will fight for tomorrow.
I will fight for equality.
I will fight for safety.
I will fight for love.
Because love trumps hate.
Because peace is better than war.
Because my God is a God who saves.
I will hold onto hope.
Will you?

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cant-waitHave you ever gotten a note from a friend and it said, “I can’t wait to see you!”? I have. Usually I like them. (I love mail) And sometimes they come in other forms, I got a voicemail the other night that was stating how it had been too long and we needed to get together. While the distance is kind of sad, knowing they are excited to see me makes it overall feel happy.

But today I got a note that said the same, “I can’t wait to see you!” and it made my heart so sad…

Today I got notes from multiple friends who I used to see every week. We went through a lot of emotions together. We cried. We laughed. We planned. We prayed. And I haven’t seen for quite some time. But I saw them again today. You guessed it. Today was a jail day. Sadly they are back on the inside. I loved seeing them. But I wished it was different. I wished I could hug them. I wished we could be creating halloween costumes for their kids. I wished we could go get coffee, go on a hike, see a movie, really anything other than sit in my office and face the question…”can you believe I’m here?”. Ugh. Sigh. Some days it’s hard to see friends. But it’s still worth it.

“So I have one friend?” she asked me nervously.
“Yes,” I answered confidently, “I am your friend.”

This conversation happened in the jail (like most of the ones that make the blog). We were talking about how scary the idea of getting out of jail was. How hard it would be to start over since her husband was divorcing her and she couldn’t go back home after this. Since her addiction had kept her from building any positive relationships in the past. Since she didn’t have custody of her children. Since she wasn’t sure what her relationship with her parents was anymore.

She asked how to make friends. She could do it in a bar, she said, but followed that thought up with the fact that she couldn’t go to a bar because she knew if she took one drink of alcohol all her hard work of staying sober would come crashing down. She knew she still doesn’t have the power to stop after one drink or to say no if offered a drink. She knows if she wants to stay healthy she cannot be around it at all.

“I’m your friend.” I said, and then continued with my list of friend making ideas, “You can go to the park, the library, the same coffee shop every week,” I told her. She said she loved the library but didn’t know how to start talking to people. “You can come with me to church and I can introduce you to people there.” It was here she stopped me to ask about my first statement. “So I have one friend?” It was so meekly asked that I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to say, of course you do and I know so many more who would love to be your friend. I know the people who don’t care what your past holds and how many more times you mess up. I know the people who will love you with Jesus’ love. But I knew that would be too overwhelming, so instead I gave her a simple yes. “Yes, I am your friend.” And I hope and pray that one day she has so many more.

There are days that feel like they were made for collapsing  into someone’s arms and weeping on their shoulder. Yesterday was one of them. Another  14+ hour day of work totalling the work week somewhere around 85 hours meant that my emotions were about at their end before the day even started, but I continued to put them to the test.

In the jail, I met with three different women for an hour each. (I met with seven other women in between those three, just not for quite such long periods of time.) The three women spent much of their hour with me in tears. One walked in and said hello, handed me some books she was returning and sat down. I glanced down to mark which books she’d brought and by the time I glanced back up she was weeping.IMG_5983

“They say addiction takes everything…”
“My life is over.”
“What am I going to do?”
“Everything is gone.”
“My life is over.”
“What can I do?”
“I left everything I knew and now it’s all gone.”
“My life is over.”

Now repeat that for an hour. Adding in a few personal details here and there. And pausing long enough for her eyes to stare into mine through the tears and beg for an answer that will fix it, but not long enough to wait for any answer I could give.

Some days I just hate my job.

I don’t hate that I do it. I hate that it’s needed. I hate that so much pain exists. I hate that there’s no one else who can listen to her. I hate that I’m not actually trained. I hate that people tell me I’m so strong when they find out what I do…because I’m not.

Sure, I kept it together while I listened, but I went home and sobbed.

While it is hard, I love that I get to meet these women. I love that I get paid to be kind. And to share the only hope that keeps me walking into the depths of these stories over and over again. Jesus. I could not face the darkness each day if it wasn’t for His love. God has proven over and over in my life that while He doesn’t promise to make all days good, He promises to be with us in spite of the bad. And He is a redeemer…nothing and no one is too broken for God to redeem. In spite of the hard days, I am so glad I get a front row seat into stories of God’s grace regularly.

After the awkward introduction with a new girl where I couldn’t shake her hand because we aren’t allowed to touch:

“How are you doing?” I tried to ask soothingly.
“I was caged alive for 7 months.” she said despondently as she stared into my eyes.

*pause*  …  *breath*  …  *think*

“That must feel really scary.” I settled on. (At this point I still wasn’t sure if she meant she’d been in jail for 7 months, been in solitary confinement for 7 months, or she had somehow been held captive before jail.) I’m not sure I ever really figured it out, but she went on. She told me how great her life was and then she paused:

“Then he went off and died on me.” she said as the tears started to flow.

*pause*  …  *breath*  …  *think*

“Who was it that died again?” I asked, trying to pretend I just missed his name when really I was incredibly confused by the conversation… She went on to talk about addiction, loss, and through the tears our conversation continued to be very confusing. I can only imagine how confused her heart must be feeling tonight.

After joining the ladies for our PB&J lunch on the block another new girl asked to speak with me. She said she had court yesterday and it was hard to process. Noticing her eyes filling with tears I quickly promised I’d call her out to talk one on one instead of at the table with all the other girls listening in:

“So what happened at court?” I asked.
“If I get more than a year they are going to adopt out my daughter,” she sobbed.

*pause*  …  *breath*  …  *think*

“That must feel really scary.” I settled on again. This has honestly become my go to phrase. Sometimes there’s just no way to fix it. There are no words to say. We still can’t touch, so no hugs to give. Nothing I can do but acknowledge the emotion. And sit in the pain with her.

We talked about adoption. How there was no one in her life she would trust with her sweet daughter because the people closest to her did drugs. How she knew adoption was good, but that this girl was a part of her. She wasn’t for someone else. I can only imagine how scared her heart is feeling tonight.

On to the next and the story goes like this:

“So you heard my big news?” she asked cynically.
“I’m so sorry.” I replied, knowing she was referring to the loss of her mother.
“This is torture.” she said flatly.

*pause*  …  *breath*  …  *think*

Again, no words were fitting. I had a hard day yesterday when my mom flew to another country but is still only a phone call away. We reminisced on stories of her mom. How she was her best friend. That she would miss the funeral. Though she was struggling throughout the whole conversation she was grateful that her mom was finally out of pain. I can only imagine how much her heart is hurting tonight.

IMG_5657I think it’s these conversations that make me dislike TV so much. I have a hard time sitting back and separating these stories from the stories in the shows even when they are so very different. I hear the phrase “New Girl” and I think of all the new girls I met today and their stories. I hear “Orange is the New Black” and think about what all the different colors of clothing mean in jail. I hear “House of Cards” and think about the odd politics and manipulation that goes on between the girls in there. I just can’t get their sweet faces out of my mind.

But I also see so much good. I get to see the girls who care about each other as well as they can in the middle of these broken situations. I hear about the gratitude lists that are being made each day. The many people who start their mornings reading the Jesus Calling book we were able to give out for Christmas and then choose to face the day with hope. The counselors who squeeze as much work into their time there as possible. The COs who stop many fights before they begin. The excited updates of girls who have gotten out. The constant requests of prayers for loved ones. I know it’s hard to imagine their lives, but if you believe in God, would you lift up a prayer for these girls? I’m sure their hearts could use it tonight. 

“Shelby, I’m back.” Normally those are word I love to hear. When my housemates come home my heart is full. When out of town friends visit it’s wonderful. When I get to see my family after a long separation.

But not today.
See, today is Thursday.
Thursday is jail day.

Today when I went onto the block for lunch my friend came up to me and said, “Shelby, I’m back.” “Oh friend…” I said, but there were no more words. “You are.” “Why?” “I’m sorry.” “What did you do?” and “Seriously!?” just didn’t seem to fit the moment. So we just locked eyes in a moment of understanding.

I had flashbacks to my second graders telling me, “Miss Caraway, my dad’s in jail,” as they stood in line and having no response for them. These things that are so normal, are not good. In fact they are very bad, but when we let ourselves feel it hurts. So, too often, the calloused walls go up and get stronger each time.

Sadly, so often, it’s that very fear of feeling that leads people to jail. Too often using drugs is the easiest way to ‘cope’. Sadly, it doesn’t ever actually help. It just blocks, delays, distracts, or postpones the pain.

Can we make it ok to cry again?

Can we follow up our “how are yous?” with real questions that require bigger answers than “fine”? If we want people to get better, it’s on us to help. I dare you to feel the feelings you’re afraid of today. And when someone asks about your day be willing to tell them the truth instead of what you think they want to hear. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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It hurts so much to sit silently, 3ft away from girls mourning and not reach out to comfort them. As they mourn the loss of belongings, basic rights, children, parents, pets, their past and their futures. As they weep, rock, bounce their knee, bite their lip. As they hurt and long for comfort. As they tell me how all they ever get are blank stares I wonder how my eye contact is perceived. I wonder if they can see that my heart is breaking. I wonder if they know I’d give anything to change their situation. I wonder if they know they are worth it. And I hope. I hope and I pray. I believe they can overcome. I believe they are worth the fight. I believe God is for them. I believe they can have hope. Even as I hear their stories. Just a couple snippets of todays stories below…

“They say retaliation isn’t allowed, but really, how can they stop it?” – you don’t need a shank to hurt someone back. Sometimes silence, rumors, language, or force hurt just as much as weapons.

“But how do I know who me is? There are so many.” – asked the girl who was recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when we talked about how medication might help to silence the voices in her head that weren’t hers and make her feel more like herself.

“…Someone must have been praying for me. I don’t know who would…Not that many people love me… (in the middle of this long story she paused, let it sink in to herself, put her head down in shame as the tears began to flow. Then she looked up again.) …maybe three.” – I told her that now she has four, because I will love her and pray for her.

“If it wasn’t for Jesus living inside of me I’d’ve had her up to the wall and smashed her face in…” – the girl who is getting much better at anger management.

“Will you pray that I would believe I’m still a good person who just did a really bad thing, and not the evil person media is portraying me to be?” – the young girl who is truly sorry for what she did.

“I’m a really nice person, but in here you have to learn to be selfish.” – a new girl adjusting to life on the inside.

Sometimes it’s hard to hope in the midst of so much pain, but I just keep praying Romans 15:13 over them: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I believe God’s power is stronger than any person, place, or thing against us. Through Him we can overcome.

These past few days have been a whirlwind! I’ve been reminded of so many things! One being that there is so much power in words. Another, that God doesn’t change with our outcomes. A week or two ago my sister found a lump. It was scary, but the doctor said it was a pretty good chance it was just a cyst. So I decided not to worry. I prayed about it, put it from my mind, and waited like everyone else.

During that week, I was talking with a friend about trusting God. We were discussing how it is kind of an instant change when you meet God, but then still a daily process to trust Him. I told her how my family is my weakest part, but that I’ve chosen that I will trust God not matter what happens to them. I said this out loud the day before my sister called to tell me that the lump wasn’t a cyst. It was in fact a tumor.

I wept.

But there was still a chance it was ‘nothing’. It could be just a benign mass, they told us. Though trust in those same people who said it was probably a cyst and were wrong was hard to muster. So I wept. And as I wept I remembered what I had spoken out loud just the day before. I will trust God no matter what. It was such a sweet reminder. I knew that God wasn’t pushing the “smite button” on me just because I had promised to trust Him, but instead had led me to that conversation right when I needed to be reminded that God is enough. That He has a plan, and He is good…no matter my circumstances. And that He can do a far better job taking care of my family than I can.

Many people prayed with and for me and reminded me of truth, “Jesus knows, and loves you all,” “Keep resting in Jesus’ arms of security and hope”. Friends called to make sure I was ok, emailed and texted…their prayers were felt greatly.

I decided to drive to Michigan to wait with my sister for the results of her biopsy. It was possible they would come the next day, or maybe take several days. Either way, it was worth it to be with her, so I went. In my life group we have a tradition where any new person who comes gets to ask a question that we all answer. One of the questions this year was, “if you knew you had one year left to live, what would you do?”. What I noticed, was that there were very few people in our group, if any, who claimed they would be doing the very same things they are doing now. The majority of us said somehow we would be with our family during at least part of that time. That really made me evaluate my life. Is 16 hours of driving fun? No. Is being with family something I value. Yes. Then I go. I want to live a life that I value, and be there for my loved ones when they need me. I never want to look back on my life and say, “I really wish I would’ve given up normal or comfortable for what was valuable or right”. I want to live without regrets.

The trip turned out to be one of celebration when the doctors said it was not cancer. We celebrated life, but we also took time to mourn the fact, that not everyone who the doctors called that day were cancer free. Some people’s lives have been put on hold and plans changed because of terrible diseases or other things. But that doesn’t change who our God is. One friend responded to my news of no cancer with this, “The Lord is so kind”. He is. God is good, and kind, and sweet. He loves us, and whether we get the news we want or not, He will carry us through.