Guest post by Rachel Schelb
“Motherhood is tough. If you just want a wonderful little creature to love, you can get a puppy.” – Barbara Walters
Pre-motherhood I knew being a mom was tough. I knew it in my head, but my heart had no idea of what was to come. I had no idea the tears that would come along with this task. Oh sure, wiser women who’ve walked ahead of me told me so, but it was hard to grasp before I had that little life growing inside me.
As moms we shed so many tears. Tears of joy at hearing the heartbeat, the first kick in our belly, watching first steps, waving as they ride their bike down the path all by themselves and so on. These tears are wonderful and express fullness we can’t put into words. But there are other tears. There are the ones we hold back when our child headbutts us right in the nose. There’s the tears of frustration when we don’t know how to calm our colicky baby or get our child to stop biting or use the potty on their own. Tears of sorrow over tantrums, disobedience and our child’s sinful nature flow at times. Then there are the tears cried silently in the bathroom while the shower runs because we’re just. so. weary. And even if the tears don’t fall onto the pillow or mix with the running shower, they’re there, swallowed down and blinked back.
Psalm 56:8 is refreshment to my teary mom eyes. It says, “ You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” I remember finding this verse many years ago and the tear bottle concept struck me as very odd. Off I went to Google to do some research and what I discovered was incredible to me.
Tear bottles were used up until the Victorian period off and on, but were very prevalent in the Jewish custom during Bible times. People would literally cry into these tiny bottles during their intense periods of grief. The lid would then be placed on the bottle and the bottle would sit, and the person would mourn. There was no seal between the lid and the bottle, so over time the tears would dissolve until eventually the bottle was empty. When the tear bottle, or lachrymatory, was empty, the mourning period was over.
With this knowledge, Psalm 56:8 becomes even more encouraging. Every tear I cry is collected into God’s precious tear bottle. All the grief and sorrow and heaviness of those tears are gathered up by our Heavenly Father who wipes away every tear (Revelation 21:4). This “wiping away” is His love and mercy dissolving those tears of mourning and sadness and replacing them with joyful singing and dancing. God not only validates our tears; He dissolves them!
Psalm 30:11 states, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Isaiah 61:3 proclaims, “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
So the next time your eyes fill with tears and you want to give up, take heart. Crawl up in your Abba’s lap and pour out your tears. He will collect and record every one. Mourn for a bit, but then pick yourself up and allow God to turn your despair into festive praise. Breathe deeply and find the beauty in the midst of the ashes of this crazy journey called motherhood.
Rachel Schelb lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband Andy, a middle school pastor,and her almost 4 year old son, Reed. She works in the corporate world part-time and fills up the rest of her time with mentoring girls, baking custom sugar cookies, reading lots of Dr. Seuss and becoming an expert at fake dying while playing the “bad guy.” She is slightly obsessed with hippos and is still trying to figure out how to achieve her dream job of naming crayon colors. Ultimately, her passion is pointing people to Jesus whether it’s her son, middle school girls or fellow moms.