Image I met with a friend the other day who had committed to help me through some difficult times.  The morning of the day we were going to connect I was quite anxious.  I felt nervous and unsure about the time scheduled later in the day when he would ask me about my life.  I couldn't help but fast forward to that moment, and in doing so, felt anxious and unsure.  What would he think about me when I share with him the challenges and struggles I am facing.  The morning passed.  Lunch came and went.  The meeting time quickly fell upon me.  I sat in the parking waiting for the exact minute when I should meet my friend.  As the seconds counted down, my peace rose up.  I knew that I was going to a safe place to talk about the recent struggles that I had encountered.  Once we sat down and exchanged pleasantries, he asked me one question.  Out of me flowed a geyser of emotion, pain, anxiety and hurt.  I was carrying pain that I did not realize I was carrying.  I cried about things not knowing I felt so deeply about them.  I shed some tears that day.  They were real tears.  They were salty because one ran down my cheek and settled upon my lip before I could catch it.  They were real.  But it was more than tears.  It was a shedding of a weight that I had been carrying.  There are tears OF joy and then there are tears that LEAD TO joy.  I had both that day.  Tears OF joy are more pleasant and satisfying as they reveal a depth of pleasure in the human soul.  I had more tears that LEAD TO joy that day.  However, the challenge as I see it is, "these tears LEAD TO joy" implying I have not yet arrived.  Joy, I believe, is found in our abiding in Christ and his love for us.  The tears that I had tried to ignore, the pain that I thought I could overcome, swelled up within me, with such intensity, that I could not ignore them.  My hope is that God will take these tears and use them as landmarks promising a trajectory into a place of "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Let what tears you shed to be tears OF joy or tears that LEAD you TO joy.  In either case the surroundings of your soul is joy.  That's not a bad place to be.

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