There is a black tea processing method called, “crush, tear, curl”. The crush, tear, curl method, also known as CTC, is when the harvesters take the tea leaves and run them through multiple rollers that crush, tear and curl the leaves into small pellets. The rollers have hundreds of sharp teeth on them. (Total random thought but, have you ever seen a picture of a Monkfish’s teeth? They look frightening!) The CTC method started in 1930 and the processed tea was used in tea bags. Packaging tea in sealed tea bags cut down costs, was convenient and made tea accessible. The tea bag was originally invented in 1901 by Roberta Lawson and Mary Molaren of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. I do not want to miss an opportunity to give a shout out to these two, tea bag pioneering, women. On August 26, 1901, a patent was filed for a, “Tea-Leaf Holder” that is similar, to what we currently use. The women’s goal was to have a fresh cup of tea every time, as opposed to having to steep an entire pot and have it go stale. Two American women, sitting over tea, using their creativity, how fun and delightful! As a result, enjoying a great cup of tea with a friend became convenient and easy. In addition, for the history buffs, during WWI, “tea bombs” (tea in a tea bag), were handed out to the soldiers and went all the way to the front lines with them.
What caught my attention about this bit of tea education is the name of the black tea processing method, “crush, tear, curl.” I was taken back to some heartbreak in my life where I felt crushed and torn, and at times would curl up in the fetal position and cry myself to sleep. One Sunday after church, a woman prayed for me and said she saw me curled up in a ball, in my bed, with my fists clenched. I had been sleeping that way every night for months and wondered how she could know that. This encounter was one of my first introductions to the truth that God sees me and cares about me living free of stress, worry and anxiety. Beginning that same evening I would lay on my back, close my eyes, stretch my arms and legs and take deep breaths. I would thank God for seeing me, for loving me and for caring for me. I would wonder, “God, can I trust you? Can I trust you with my heart?” I set an intention in those moments to be free. The Bible says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” I was burdened with the pain of being yoked to so many things from my past that I was in and out of the hospital due to anxiety attacks. I carried shame and condemnation and eventually started stuffing it one cheesecake at a time.
Fast forward 20 or so years and I am now at the stage where the crushing, tearing and transformation, (curling), process has positioned me to bring something sweet to the world by loving and sharing hope with women who are hurting. The pain I have been through has been worth it, the brokenness has been worth it, the tears have been worth it and the surrender has been worth it. I know you have had those times of crushing, tearing and curling as well. There have been heartaches in your life that may still cause your chest to tighten when you think of them. Maybe you are carrying shame from a decision you made in your past. Maybe words you have spoken haunt you. Maybe you are struggling with forgiving somebody. Whatever has or is crushing you, know this. It is not God’s will for you to be bound to the pain of your past. It is not God’s will for you to be tormented by regrets, abuse or rejection. God’s will for you is, (because of His great love for you), to be free from the past so you can move into a relationship with Him that brings life, love, freedom and hope. You are loved, you are valued, you are seen and God is present in your life. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you is a promise that has been given to every person who wants to live a life of freedom and hope. If you choose, you can live free and you can become a joyful expression of God to this world. Doesn't the world need it? If you answered yes then know, believe and stand firm in the truth that the world needs YOU!
Let’s tea up and say yes to the unpredictable process of life and celebrate each other along the way. Let's celebrate the women in our lives, and affirm the men. We need each other.