Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Tears in a Bottle
- Have you ever felt unheard, or that others failed to acknowledge the validity of your emotions? How did you respond? Looking forward, how can you let people know what you need?
- Have there been times when you failed to respond lovingly to someone else’s hurt? How could you do better next time?
- What can you do to make yourself, your family, your church, or other group a safe place for sharing vulnerable feelings? Will you do it?
You yourself have kept track of my misery. Put my tears into your bottle—aren’t they on your scroll already? – Psalm 56:8 (CEB)
I was reminded recently how difficult it is for many of us to deal with someone else’s sadness or emotional distress. I saw how so many of us, when made uncomfortable by another’s discomfort, move quickly into fix-it mode.
“It’s not that bad,” we say. “You’re overreacting,” we add.
“Why don’t you try this?” we suggest, wanting desperately to pass the ball of responsibility, the burden of awareness, the weight of obligation. You deal with it.
If the situation persists, we might offer, “This, too, will pass. Just give it time.”
And if we’re really uncomfortable, just don’t understand, or are at a sincere loss as to what to do or say, we might not say anything at all. We might be unwilling even to listen. We might forget that the most important thing of all is simply to acknowledge the other person’s pain.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but none of this is helpful. It may even compound another’s hurt.
How comforting, then, to know that the Holy One registers our every hurt and collects each tear that falls. How healing it is to be heard without judgment, to be able to share our pain without running up against someone else’s need for resolution. And how encouraging it is to know that we, too, can choose to honor our dear ones’ sufferings and preserve their tears in our own heart-shaped bottles.
God Who Hears: For love that records and honors my feelings, for your sacred bottle of tears, I give you thanks and praise.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.