Earlier in life it had been a sense of pride (girls dig the tough guy right?)
Other times it has been embarrassing (being the only dry eyed guy at funeral)
But in the last 5 months my tear glands and I have gotten well acquainted. There have been nights where I legitimately cried myself to sleep. Nights where I fell asleep with the tv on, hoping that the sport game would be louder than the doubts and fears in my head. In the last 5 months I have become well acquainted with pain, doubt, insecurity and grace.
"Dustin, I think you made a mistake. That word doesn't belong with the others. "
For the longest time I believed this to be true as well. However in this season other than learning that I'm an ugly crier (but honestly who isn't) I have learned just how sweet God's grace is.
Please allow me to explain.
I had a series of events that happened in short succession that rocked me to my core. I watched as the carefully constructed comfort zone I was in, got ripped apart. To top it all off God was behind it. Most of the things that rocked me the hardest were also the events that God's hand was most clearly evident in.
Up to this point in my life I truly believed that though I would go through hard times that comfort would always be the end result. Though I may have a tough week or two I would inevitably learn a lesson and go back to comfort. I could quote James 1 and Romans 5 and tell you that God chastises those whom He loves, but deep down I believed those were temporary detours on an otherwise comfortable trip.
What God has led me to understand though is that my life is ultimately about two things: becoming more like Christ and helping others to become more like Christ. In this journey there may be periods of happiness and periods of pain, but the end result is my Christlikeness not my comfort.
In the midst of these tears, one thing is undeniable I'm a better man than I was 5 months ago. I love Jesus deeper, my wife purer and my church more fully. God has used my pain for my holiness. Thus my pain has been nothing short of grace.
To be clear I deeply believe that the pain wasn't a punishment from God. The pain wasn't a test to teach me something. The pain hurt a lot... and it still hurting. I'm not writing this as a memoriam about a season that I just went through, I'm writing it as tour guide explaining to you my current experience.
Pain is real, Pain hurts but I have found Pain often is also grace.