I cry. When my heart wells up with emotion, it tends to spill out through my eyes. Let’s just say that my heart tends to be a well spring that frequently pours over.
I cry when I am sad, when I grieve, when I hurt, when I am upset, when I am happy, when I am overcome by joy, when I am stressed & overwhelmed, and when I am really tired. I cry when I read books, I cry when I watch movies, I cry when I pray, I cry listening to music and I cry listening to the stories of others.
Don’t get me wrong, I do smile and laugh a good deal too, but I cry really easily.
Unfortunately, I am more of an ugly crier than a graceful crier. My eyes get puffy, my nose runs, my voices cracks and my cheeks turn red. Symptoms that tend to hang around even after the cry is over. It is not very pretty.
The world has tried hard to teach me that I need to hide, cover up, or withhold all the not pretty things – tears included. Don’t cry. Suck it up. Brush it off. Develop a thicker skin. Be strong. It is as if tears were a sign of weakness, a sign of failure, or something to be fixed.
Have you ever tried to convince yourself not to cry? Have you been successful in your attempts? I have never been good at keeping myself from crying, though I have certainly tried.
I have found myself in situations where I feel the onset of a cry; a lump developing in my throat and my tear ducts filling with the fluid of emotion. It is then that a “don’t cry” alarm starts sounding in my brain. Then, while attempting to still have an outward focus on what is going on around me, inwardly I am scream “don’t cry”, “hold back”, “don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry”.
This usually does no good for me. I try to focus on breathing. “Just breathe,” I tell myself. By this point, I am pretty much gone mentally from attempting to be in tune with the external, and focused exclusively on the internal. Tears welling up to the point where my eyes begin to water.
I look for a distraction…pinch myself. Yes, I have pinched myself by my knee or my wrist to switch the focus of my mind. That usually only works momentarily. After a moment of pain and acquired fingernail marks in my flesh, I look for an escape. How can I find a way out? To the nearest bathroom perhaps? A way to regroup? A way to end this as soon as possible?
If not an escape, how about a cover up? Allergies? Something in my eye? All the while another chorus of “don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry” streams through my mind.
Where do the whole of my efforts to not cry usually get me…crying. That pressure, it needs to be released to be relieved, so it pours out in tears.
God Counts our Tears
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through sleepless nights,
each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.”
Psalm 56:8 (Message)
I can not imagine what kind of ledger God is keeping for my tears. It makes me chuckle out loud to think that one day I may walk through a library in Heaven where all my tears are accounted for. What must those entries look like?
Stress over Finances: 359 tears
Marital Strife following an Argument: 4,823 tears
Hurtful Words Received: 612 tears
Personal Failure: 1,987 tears
Why would God bother to keep track of all our tears?
In my life, I tend to account for that which I believe is important. The more important someone or something is to me, the greater detail I tend to hold on to.
How much must God care for us if He accounts for all of our tears? Think about the attention, energy, and effort that must be poured into accounting for each of our tears. I do not even account for the time I spend crying, let alone a tear count. Think about how quickly we wipe away our tears and brush them aside; an individual tear so small and insignificant.
Yet, God keeps track of them all. God tenderly tallies our tears. That is how well He knows us, and how greatly He cares for us.
Trials without Tissues
One of the worst things in the world to me, is to be without a tissue or Kleenex when you need one. When I cry I generally need at least a couple tissues. It is so embarrassing to have tears running down your face, or worse a runny nose with snot building up, but there are no tissues. It seems so small, but a tissue can make a mighty difference.
Tissues are often on my purse packing list. Truly, I believe having tissues on hand can be a great opportunity to minister to and care for others. For women’s Bible study, a time of prayer, or meeting for coffee with a frazzled friend, tissues are a must have. If there is a serious issue I am praying about, I often pray with a tissue in between my hands.
You never know when you will wind up using the tissues that you carry. When you walk into someone’s office after they received an unexpected phone call, when a break room conversation leads to a breakdown of built up defenses, or when the final straw of stress cracks the camel’s back.
When Comedy Cracks Through
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”
Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)
Tears and laughter. Laughter and tears. Have you ever reflected on how often they go together? There is something that does not seem right about placing tears and joy together. It logically seems that tears are on one end of the emotional spectrum with joy & laughter on the other, but I often find in my life that they mix together like salt and pepper do, same dish at the same time.
If anyone in my life has seen me cry, it is my husband Eric. The poor man has been witnessed to so many varieties of my tears and crying; both directly as I cry upon his shoulder, or indirectly from the opposite side of the bed, or listening through the door. Eric is so patient, gentle, and kind with me.
He is often silent through my tears, steadfast, but silent. Silent when I am looking for words of comfort and reassurance. I believe he gets the brunt of my tears because of his steadfastness. I trust him in my brokenness and trust him with my tears.
Eric has this way about cracking silly comments that often turn tears into giggles. It is one of the characteristics I most greatly appreciate about him, that he sprinkles my life with smiles.
This is also true for some of my closest friends. Our friendships beat both up and down, in tears and laughter. A call that begins with crying can quickly crack into shared comedy that leaves us laughing by the conversation’s end.
Seeds need both rain and sun to sprout. Perhaps our tears water the seeds we sow and God’s light shines down upon them allowing the fruit of joy to grow.
Your Tears are Counted
My dear reader, I hope you know that you are deeply loved and cared for by a God who willingly spends energy and effort accounting for your tears. He pays such close attention to you that He knows when you toss and when you turn.
You can trust Him with each of your cares, your worries and anxieties. You can trust Him with your stress, your strain, your excitements and your celebrations. God is caring for the details, from the tissues to blow your nose on and the friends who provide comedic relief. This care flows from a rich and purposeful love for you. Whether you cry a lot or just occasionally a little. God has your tears accounted for.
Sometimes I wonder how you allowed me to be such a crazy crier! I know that my tears are not pretty and I often feel compelled to hide them away, but I hope that You can make good use out of them.
Lord, please bless my readers. If they have tears that they are holding back, please help them to find release in the safety of Your presence and Your infinite love for them. Give them trusting people who are steadfast for them. Those who will stay through the ugly, who are willing to see what has been uncovered, and who lovingly shine light upon the darkness.
Tears often form as we waiver between faith and fear, when we are discouraged that no one understands us or accepts us as we are. Give us tissues for the tears, and the many other little supplies needed to persevere through the trials our circumstances present us with.
Thank You, Lord, for caring so much, and for loving so greatly. In the name of Jesus, who is tender with all of our tears, amen.