I hate crying.
The salty tears, the runny nose, the burning eyeballs. I especially don’t like how my contacts get all gunky and dry. Not to mention the embarrassment of being well, a crybaby.
Sure, I was a little emotive as a kid. My brothers teased me, I cried. I fell and hurt myself, I cried. Kids were mean, I cried. I dropped a brownie, I cried.
My brothers nicknamed me “Crybaby” and I wore the name well.
“Let me play!” Stamping my feet, tears on my cheeks.
“Give me it!” Sniffling and reaching for the toy.
“Stooooop! Or I’m telling mom!” Angry tears streaming down.
“You are SUCH a crybaby!”
As I grew, I began to cry less. I tucked away all the tears and toughened up. i took pride in my lack of tears. “I never cry,” I told my friends. “Tough as nails,” I bragged. And it was mostly true.
And then I met Jesus. And while I like most of the remodeling he did on my heart, I take issue with bringing back the tears. I mean, really?
These days I cry the most when I’m telling my family what I love about them. At birthdays we go around the table and share with the birthday person what we love. My kids are so trained to my tears that when it’s my turn they run for the Kleenex box. “There she goes!” But I don’t mind those tears too much – they are endearing, love spilling over as I try to find the words to speak my heart.
It’s the grieving tears I still have trouble with… the tears that come from a deep sadness that springs up and spills over.
When a friend loses a child in an unexpected and tragic way.
When my kids experience racism or bullying.
When sickness sidelines a family member.
When strong people stop fighting for good in this broken world.
When teenagers lose hope and choose to end it all.
Those are tear-worthy events, tear-worthy moments. These are the tears that are hard to cry because it feels like once I start, they may never end.
Just this week I comforted two of my babies through major meltdowns. They cried so hard their bodies were shaking and their eyes were red from the strain. The tears poured down and both were inconsolable for a good long while. I held them. I rocked them. I reminded them, “Sometimes you just need a good cry, and I’m going to sit here as you let it out.”
But we don’t do that as adults. I don’t have many friends who can go into a full on melt, sobbing hiccups and all. Most of us tend to fight tears. We see tears as weakness and shut them down as soon as they flow. We apologize when one leaks out. We feel embarrassed – even though the weight of emotions is even greater than what we experienced as kids. Rather than be a crybaby or viewed as weak, we self-medicate with our drug of choice – TV, food, alcohol, sleep, control. We hide from our emotions and take pride in our stoic facades.
But here’s the truth. Sometimes we just need a good cry. The bury-your-head-in-the-pillow, tears-streaming-down, nose-running, sobbing-hiccups, eyes-burning kind of cry. For the losses, for the heartache, for the loneliness, for the failures, for the pain of it all in this broken world. It hurts and we need to let it out.
Then, just like we sit with our own children, our God sits with us. Sometimes, He whispers, you need a good cry. And I’m going to sit here with you as you let it out. And It’s so good when we do. It’s so good when we can. After my kids have a good melt, they’re in the best mood for days after. They’ve released the pressure, let it out, cleansed their soul – and the joy comes.
So cry, baby. It’s okay. The emotions are there. Quit ignoring them. They aren’t going away. We can’t medicate them away or numb them forever. They need to come out.
Sometimes we just need a good cry.
Grab a Kleenex, grab a pillow and let ‘em out.
Jesus is there.