How long has it been since you’ve had a good cry? Can you remember when you last shed tears?
I am not a big crier in the usual sense of the world. I have to be very, very angry or very, very happy to shed many tears, and especially so in public, or even in front of my family members. Having been accused by some unknowing folks as being cold or reserved, I rather think that’s not true. I think, instead, that I have simply experienced many different life emotions, seen things in ministry that I have come to accept, and have now lived long enough to know that there are good things and bad things, helpful and hurtful things, joy and sorrow and peace — if you seek it for your life. Let me add here that I believe it is perfectly permissible to cry openly if the need strikes you.
I have a dear, dear fried that cries at the drop of a hat, and I love her for her emotion and deep concern for others. It sometimes takes me a minute or two to see if she is crying “happy” or “sad” tears because she often cries both.
A long-time friend of mine, Dr. Ron English, sent me a writing this week about the tears of a woman. He said he thought I would enjoy it and I did. I later did a little research and found this topic to be both in writing and in a video and slideshow presentation. The gist of the writing was that women’s tears are a special invocation to God. A little boy asks his mom why she is crying. She answers that he wouldn’t understand. He then asks his father why women cry and the father says, “Because they are women,” which really didn’t answer his question, either.
The story went on to say when the boy grew up and had relationships of his own, the same question nagged at his heart and mind. One day, in an earnest prayer, he asked God why the women he loved cried so. As the story goes, God answered his question by saying that women must be strong for the men they love and He has created them to be sensitive to the needs of the husband and children He will give to them, and that they must rely on their strength to stand by the side of the man and to uphold the children all of their lives. The last line stuck with me, and it said that you can see a woman’s heart through her tears, and that if you watch long enough and diligently enough, you can see her entire life pass by.
I am not so certain about this, and I know men who cry just as easily. So, in all honesty, I believe I would re-write the thoughts to say either a man or woman may cry because of the strength needed to sustain relationships and to care for those they love. In fact, my former boss, Dr. John R. Rice, taught that there was a time in his life when he asked God to stop letting him cry because he thought it confused his hearers and made it so that he could not deliver his message clearly. He added quickly that he, after a few months of not crying when he preached, begged God to give him tears again. He said only when God was speaking to his heart did he know that his message was alive and right for the audience where he was speaking.
Experts tell us we cry when we are either happy or sad. Crying is a natural response to certain feelings, probably more often to sadness or hurt, but tears can also be happy ones. Some people cry when they see things of great beauty, like a new grandchild, or where they are given good news. “When people cry, they are letting go of their guard, their defenses,” said Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D. at the Moonview Treatment Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “They are tapping into a place deep inside themselves.”
“It can also be a survival mechanism,” said Jodi DeLuca, Ph.D., at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. “When you cry,” she said, “it’s a signal you need to address something.” Among other things, it might mean you are frustrated, overwhelmed or even just trying to get someone’s attention.” Other experts state that crying has a biochemical purpose. It is believed to release stress hormones or toxins from the body, and it might have a purely social function as well. It often wins support from those who watch you cry. It can also be manipulative — simply a way to get what you want.
“For various reasons, a lot of people push down their tears. They suppress them,” Sideroff says. “One of the consequences is we sort of deaden ourselves to suppress bad news or not even notice we have these feelings inside. The way this may look to the outside world is that we are depressed.”
Let’s give ourselves permission to have a good cry if needed. We might just be surprised at how it makes us feel. In 2 King 20:5, the king is told that God said, “I have heard thy prayer and I have seen thy tears.” And God promises in Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.”Our sympathy this week is extended to several of our readers who have lost family members and dear friends. Please remember that God sees your tears and knows your hearts.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.