Times I cried in 2016

170x170bbThe first time was a surprise. Everyone was out of the office, so I decided to put on some music. With Malawi’s high data costs, I wasn’t really supposed to be streaming, but a band I liked had released a new EP. The empty office turned out to be more important than I thought. I sat enraptured as I listened to See the Love, by The Brilliance. The collection is a lament for all the pain, hate, and brokenness so overwhelmingly big and dark, and a cry for peace and love across difference. I found tears falling as I saw that pain reflected in my daily experience in Malawi.

The second time was embarrassing. I volunteered a kids club at my church in Lilongwe, and we finished the year by watching The Prince of Egypt. I was near the front, in charge of distributing popcorn refills to a crowd of kids crammed three to a desk in a stuffy classroom. I hadn’t seen this movie for years and found myself drawn into Moses’ journey. When Moses met God at the burning bush, I felt overcome by his sense of wonder.

Moses takes off his shoes and brings God all his excuses. “How can I stand up against all this evil? Who will listen to me?” Flames burst and Moses is drawn up into the light, reminded of God’s power and purpose. I shall be with you, Moses.

Moses goes home and shares his vision with his wife (more tears). I tried not to let the ten-year-olds see me but they kept coming up for more popcorn, oblivious to the drama before them. In Malawi, lonely and displaced, my emotions were always a little closer to the surface. As I sat watching God give Moses a mission to accomplish, I realized how much I longed for the same: to be awed by God’s power and drawn up into his purpose.

You can probably guess the last time. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you were there. I stood under a tree on a sunny summer morning, the dappled light covering a crowd of smiling friends. I turned to see a woman in a white dress with flowers in her hair. No tears came in that moment, but inside, the feeling was the same: drawn up in light, lost in the glory of it all. Here were hope and purpose.13315690_1254935667864331_931651089424059889_n

There were other times, too. Some are forgotten, and some are not yet right for sharing. But these three somehow sum up what 2016 was for me. It was a year where pain and hopelessness became deep and personal. It was a year I cried out in loneliness, longing for God to show me his plans. It was a year of joy as moments of truth and intimacy filled my life like dappled sunlight. This year I cried when I saw glimpses of home.

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