“Big girls don’t cry…” – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
“There’s no crying in baseball!” – Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own
“You better watch out, you better not cry…” Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town
I’m sure I could could go on for pages and pages quoting things in our culture that discourage us from having or displaying emotions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me to “get a thicker skin” or to “toughen up buttercup.” But, why? To what benefit could there be to suppressing our emotions. Have we been programmed to think that crying makes us weak or over dramatic? When is the last time you allowed yourself to have a good cry?
Tears come for a variety of reasons. It may be sorrow or frustration, anger or pain. Tears could also come from joy and laughter! My family would testify that I don’t go very long between cries. I am not ashamed of feeling things deeply. As I was growing up my mother explained it by saying I was “tender-hearted.” Just last night my kids were telling their friends that there isn’t a movie that’s ever been made that I haven’t cried over.
Recently, I found myself in tears in the middle of a bowling alley. By the time I was able to get to the bowling alley for the youth outing the lanes were already thumping with energy and excitement. I saw young people of a variety of ages high-fiving and cheering each other on as they did their best to knock down the pins out in front of them. As my wife approached me her face immediately looked concerned. “What’s wrong?” she asked noticing my eyes welled up with tears. “It’s just so beautiful!” I responded. What a joy it was to see a group of youth encouraging each other and being completely inclusive to everyone in their group.
This year, I’ve had the pleasure of performing in two plays at Lincoln County On Stage in Chandler. There were some nights that I would look out at the audience before my initial entrance at the beginning of the show and my heart would be overwhelmed with joy as I saw the friends and family who had come to support me. I would dab carefully at my cheeks before going on so that no one could tell I’d been crying. During Driving Miss Daisy there was a scene where Miss Daisy was losing her sensibility and I would watch from off-stage with eyes full of tears. It brought back memories of when I was taking care of my own grandmother who was going through similar experiences. When my grandmother had finally passed I walked out of the funeral home and took off walking. This time, the tears were streaming down my face as I sobbed.
There are times when I get to sing during our worship service. There is usually a song that fits the sermon or communicates a message that we hope touches the hearts of those in the congregation. There are times when I struggle to get through all of the notes because as I sing the words of worship they hit me like wind upon my heart. The holiness of God and what God has done in my life practically brings me to my knees on the spot and I cry.
Sometimes when I sneeze I try to be courteous and stifle it. I feel the pressure build up in my head and chest. My wife told me to stop that or my head was going to explode. I share these things because I want to give you permission to feel again. I want you to be courageous in letting your emotions out; whether it be hurt or happiness. I want you to realize that at some point everything you have stifled will eventually explode. Then it’ll be a much more challenging mess to clean up. God is there either way, but you were created with these feelings for a reason. It is healthy to laugh. It is healthy to cry. It is difficult sometimes to confront and deal with things you’d rather push aside, but, I’m learning to take it as it comes rather than to have it all come flooding in at once at the least opportune time.
Whatever touches your heart, moves you, draws your compassion or hurts you, please know that our Lord and Savior understands. He was both fully God and fully human and knows exactly what those experiences feel like. Be in prayer. Walk with God and know that those tears are precious to our creator and he will make all of these expressions beautiful.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There won’t be any more death. There won’t be any grief, crying, or pain, because the first things have disappeared.” The one sitting on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” He said, “Write this: ‘These words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:4-5).
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
Tate Monroe, Director of Discipleship and Development