Somewhere along the line I became a crier
Have you ever seen the movie The Fighting Sullivans? It’s based on the true story of four brothers serving on the same ship during World War II. As the ship begins to sink, the three older brothers realize they can’t find the youngest. They go searching, find him, but can’t save him. As the ship goes down all four die heroically. Then we see the poor mother and the young widow of one of the brothers trying to make sense of their loss and move on. I remember watching this as a kid and teasing my mom as she sobbed through a good portion of the movie.
We were at a prayer meeting this winter where they asked that anyone in need of healing come to the side for prayer. My youngest son quickly found our foster baby and took him over, explaining to the adults in what ways his little brother needed healing. Then my son laid his hands on Baby J. and prayed over him right along with everyone else. I felt the tears leaking down my face.
A short time later an old song began to play, one from back in the seventies when my parents first came to Christ. I looked over and noticed a woman around their age who is wracked with Alzheimer's. Her face was full of joy as, with lifted arms, she bounced on the balls of her feet singing that praise song to Jesus without even looking toward the screen for the words. Blessed moments of lucidity enabled her to do once more what God created her for –be in communion with him. More tears on my cheeks.
And then they played Meggie’s song. Sometimes I can hear it and even sing along, not that Sunday. As I hurried from the room, the tears ran for the third time. In the bathroom I splashed cold water on my face. Studying my red eyes in the mirror, I realized sheepishly that I had become the very thing I had always teased my mother for being --a crier. I bet if I watched The Fighting Sullivans today, I would be sobbing, too.
Why do we consider tears a sign of weakness? Why do we feel this need to display only strength? Life is hard. Life can be sad. Life moves us. It’s okay to cry. Will people really think us weaker for our tears? Or will they find us more human? A random stranger I once met at the library shared with me about the still birth of her third child. We sat there in the midst of toys and kids with tears streaming down our faces as she related her pain and loss. Did she think less of me because of my tears? Did I of her? Of course not.
I’m learning that tears are just one of the tools God gives us to express our humanity, and while at times we do need to hide them, often it is okay to let them flow.