Chances are, some of us have been accused of being too emotional. I’m a cryer. I cry in movies, songs, TV commercials (yep), books, conversations, meetings, walks on the beach… The tears flow freely over here. And all of my life, I’ve been ashamed of them.
But I do feel everything. I’ve got friends, right?
Those with the gift of empathy, creativity… people who value vulnerability. You guys know what I’m talking about. It would seem that many would have us dry up our tears, shut down our outrage, ignore empathy because it’s “nicer” when everyone does this.
Displays of emotion make people uncomfortable. So we should refrain from displaying them so everyone stays comfortable. Because that’s the goal, right?
Don’t get your tears on the carpet.
“Sometimes we need to let the tears fall from our own eyes so that the pressure behind them can be released. Vulnerability and feeling are not a weakness. In fact, I think they are a sign of great strength.”
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Perhaps if we paid attention to the tears of the world, we’d be less likely to ignore the plight of those who cry. Maybe we’d make fewer judgemental judgments and more actions of justice. We’d be more likely to embrace the other rather than turn them away. Maybe that’s why collectively we are afraid of tears and emotion because they make our hearts feel and our hands itch to help. And often, we’re just too comfortable for that. Too “on-mission.”
In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens wrote:
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
Without the freedom to display emotion, we’d have no books, songs or movies. There’d be nothing to make, no stories to tell. We’d have no comfort in our grief, outlet for our pain, or freedom from our torments. There would be nothing to compel us to stop talking, to listen and to help. Tears have a way of washing away walls. And God knows, we need them washed away.
Don’t be ashamed of your tears, or shame the tears of others. A good cry makes way for healing, so for goodness sake, let the healing come. Instead of turning off your tears, find somewhere sacred and safe to spill them. Instead of turning away from the tears of others, do the hard work of witnessing them, validating them. Weep with those who weep and share in their burden. Let the vulnerability of others challenge you and wake you up to the hardness in your own heart.
The Psalmist wrote:
“You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.” Ps 56:8.
Cry my friend, loud and deep and honest. Be emotional, feel it all. It is not shameful; it is truthful. “They are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”
Why does he bottle our tears? Perhaps to remind us that they are as medicinal and as precious as anything else.
Written by Liz Milani