Not long ago, my kids completed a social media questionnaire about me. (You know, the see-how-well-you-know-someone kind.) Their responses were entertaining and proved their knowledge, but one answer stuck with me —bothered me a bit, if you want to know the truth.
“What’s one thing your mom always does?” Even though they answered the questionnaire at separate times, they both had a quick response: “cries.”
I laughed it off along with them because we all knew it was an accurate answer. I do cry — a lot. Just last night a Christmas movie caused an overflow of liquid to spill from my eyes. Usually, I try to hide this. It’s gotten somewhat embarrassing that my tears flow so easily and often for the most random reasons. (Case in point: if some wins Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right, I’m a hot weepy mess.)
While I do cry easily, I don’t cry with abandon. In fact, the more I’ve become aware of my tears, the more I’ve come to resent them. The automatic boo-hooing reminds me of my frailty. And in a world where women are valued for being “fierce,” I realized I wasn’t measuring up. My tears signified weakness, emotionally and spiritually.
If I trusted God enough, why am I crying? If I believed all the Bible’s promises, why did tears come so easily and so often? I’ve chanted to myself, “Pull it together! Weeping is for wimps.” So I’ve fought the tears, kept them at bay in most situations. My “fierce” womanhood dominated as I lied to myself to prevent the sobbing.
One of Satan’s biggest jobs is to take the simple truths and turn them into believable lies, and I’d bought into one. The world wants to tell us that crying is a weakness, whether you’re a man or woman. It means you can’t handle life, and if you’re a Christian, you don’t trust God when shedding tears over difficult situations. Recite a verse, say prayer, but whatever you do, don’t cry!
A quick look into the Word proves this to be untrue. Isaiah 25:8 speaks of how God will wipe away all tears. Psalms 56:8 says He keeps track of all our tears, bottles them in fact.
Why would God do such a thing if our tears were unacceptable to Him? Both these verses confirm the opposite. Our Creator God’s acknowledgement of tears is an acknowledgement of our frail humanity. His choosing to bottle them and track them in his heavenly ledger demonstrates his tender care for us, his complete understanding of the not-so-nice world in which we live.
Judith Orloff, M.D. gives the perfect perspective on crying in her article in Psychology Today: “Tears help us process the loss so we can keep on living with an open heart.” When I cry, God takes account of my pain. When He validates my hurt, I know he cares. When I know he cares, I can dry my tears and keep walking with Him.
The truth is we will all encounter days, maybe even weeks and months, when tears are plentiful. Yet, as they fall, God catches them, and we can rest in his tender love for us. Tears aren’t a sign of weakness; they signify an open heart — the kind God uses. And isn’t that where we all want to be?