I CRY A LOT. DOES THAT MAKE ME A CRYBABY? Maybe. Depends on what I’m crying about. Tears come off the shelf in an assortment of shapes and sizes.
BAD TEARS—Tears of anger, self-pity, disappointment, frustration—all of them self-centered. I’ve been hurt; I’ve been treated badly; things aren’t going MY way. Those sour, bitter tears come all too often.
TEARS OF FATIGUE are another category. When I’m too tired to even undress for bed, I cry, then shift to “Buck up. Just DO it.” My mother cried a lot, which annoyed me at the time. Now, however, I realize how hard she worked to keep her ungrateful daughter in college. She had every right to cry, and it’s too late for me to say thank you.
GOOD, OTHER-FOCUSED TEARS: sympathy, compassion, gratitude, beauty, love, joy. Any of these can evoke tears of great value.
WORSHIP, however, is the supreme other category and perhaps best of all tears. Some folks have gifts of serving, preaching, healing. My gift is TEARS, offered up to the Lord whom I love with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Just recently, I dragged myself to our monthly time of pure worship. I went because I needed to, and my “gift” flowed freely. The deep, worshipful words of the songs, scripture read by assorted voices, prayers that went up—all drew my heart upward. God will one day wipe away all tears, but on this side of the veil, some tears may be jewels of worship.
Treading dangerous waters here, but people who are seldom moved in a worship environment may be simply mouthing empty, emotionless praise. I’m not saying we all need to cry in church. I am saying we need to monitor our heart focus.
Tears are a part of being human. The inability to cry is monster pathology. But on the opposite end, many innocent people live in constant pain, danger, or threat of death. Their tears are measured by the quart. Perhaps, though, crying on their behalf is a precious gift that God somehow uses.
Tears are my pearls of great price. I offer them up as a holy sacrifice.
I’ve observed that really old men cry easily. Younger men, not so much. Women—definitely. Do you have a tear story? Please share it, either by Commenting below or emailing me at email@example.com
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God saves all our tears. He loves when our hearts are moved in worship.
agreed! tears can be a love offering to God. i cry ALL the time in worship–it’s all good!
For a guy my tears come with unnerving ease, often without warning. I can’t remember though when I cried out of self pity or because I was wronged in some way, shielded well with a pretty thick skin. My tears are almost always confined to being moved, being inspired or saddened by tragedy. I cry at funerals without exception, the age of the deceased mattering little. I cry at many of the inspirational links my good friends thoughtfully send me. I cry whenever I replay Susan Boyle’s and Paul Pott’s stunning debuts. I cried when my adopted son Kenny hit a line shot out of the park against the league’s best pitcher. And of course I cried when my parents died. I could go on and on but I mention only two other episodes that are notable in my three score and ten existence here on earth. Gazing at my twelve year old childhood friend in a cardboard casket (his parents too poor to afford a wooden one) is a moment I’ll never forget. I was fourteen at the time and was one of the pallbearers. I was too much in shock at the service to cry much but ever since I’ve cried a thousand times when the memory grabs a hold of me. Buddy, I’ll see you on the other side. The time that I unleashed a veritable torrent was almost a quarter century ago when the local sheriff took me to his office and produced a purse, unmistakably my wife’s, and a pistol I didn’t recognize. It was only at that horrific moment that I realized that she had finally carried out a threat she had made innumerable times. I fell to the floor wailing so loud I must have been heard in the neighboring county. Life as I knew it would never be the same. I recall little after that and it was four long tortuous years before some manifestation of recovery cautiously emerged. In spite of many losses and many tears that would probably fill a giant fish tank, here go I but for the grace of God. Every day is a gift and I start each one with a greeting to the Almighty. More tears will surely flow before the curtain comes down but I shan’t forget that God gave us this splendid mechanism to ease our pain and to express our sorrows and joys to each other. Indeed how blessed we are for this precious gift.
Ellie, thank you for this post. The gift of tears has been recognized since the ancient church. I think your description – distinguishing between the easy-flowing tears that some of us experience at sad movies and times of stress and the seemingly inexplicable flowing of tears in worship is very well done – it can be tricky. And of course the ability to empathize with the suffering of others is also a gift. But the gift of tears in worship is different. I first encountered the idea when reading Teresa of Avila back in college . It is intriguing. You may find this post (and its links) interesting: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2016/08/ewing-demystifying-the-gift-of-tears/