When was the last time you gave yourself permission to cry? I mean really, really cry?
I used to be a crier. As a child I had a super sensitive heart that God filled with compassion.
Not only did I cry at a skinned knee or when someone hurt my feelings, but I also cried when I saw another child in pain—or even at the thought of someone being wounded.
I didn’t just cry. I felt. I felt deeply.
God has gifted me with empathy for others. I took the Scripture about “rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn” quite literally.
And tragic movies? I could never, ever make it through one without at least a handful of tissues!
When the film Titanic released, I was 16. I sat through the epic drama not once but twice.
When Rose let go of Jack’s hand and let him fall into the cold, murky waters, I stood up in the theater and let out a wail.
“Jack! No! No, Jack!”
In stark realization of where I was—I attempted to stifle my cries, which really didn’t make things any better, as my muffled tears turned into heaping hyperventilation.
When my friend escorted me to my vehicle, I flung my head on the steering wheel and sobbed.
It wasn’t just for the characters Jack and Rose. I was crying for all those people who lost their lives—or lost their loves—in the true Titanic tragedy.
But then…a few years back…I stopped.
I went through something painful that has the opposite effect of any other hurt I had ever experienced.
My dreams shattered.
And it numbed me.
I bottled up my feelings and with it my tears.
I grew cold. For the first time ever, I cultivated hardness. I let a tough shell build up around my heart.
That one trial morphed into postpartum depression and just general overwhelm of being the mother of three kids four and under.
But even in the midst of depression, I found it strange that, for the most part, I stopped crying.
Whenever I had a small glimpse of my former soft heart, I buried those emotions deep inside and told myself I was simply being strong.
At times, I couldn’t even sense God’s presence.
But something’s changed within the past year or so. I’m dreaming again. I’m living again. And, yes, I’m even crying again.
My 16-month-old daughter’s middle name is Joy. When she was born, I asked God to give me joy again. And through my tears, He has done just that.
Last Sunday, in worship, I let it all out. Instead of ignoring the fact that there are people hurting all around me, I cried for them.
As we sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” my thoughts flew to our family friends who have received the dreaded malignant brain tumor diagnosis earlier this week.
The family already experienced the sudden, tragic loss of their teenager daughter—my dear childhood friend—in a car accident 14 years ago.
Through my tears, I cried for this family. Through my tears I worshipped my God, who has only their best—and my best—and your best—interests at heart.
What is it for you, dear reader?
What do you need to cry about today?
Have you been bottling up your tears, numbing your heart and harding your emotions?
Are you tired and weary and just grasping at the wind to make it until bedtime?
Are you or a loved one battling an illness? Is your marriage rocky?
Have you lost a baby or have your dreams been shattered? Is your future uncertain?
Have you experienced a loss so great that you must pinch yourself to make sure you’re still breathing?
Crying is good for us. Crying is healthy. It’s a natural stress reliever, in fact.
Even Jesus wept.
One day, there will be no more tears. HE will wipe them all away.
But for now…
Give yourself grace. Let your heart be filled with God’s grace. Let Him hear your prayers and see your tears and grant you joy that only He can give.
And give yourself permission to cry.