You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT
“Mom, I couldn’t even drive home for a good while because I was crying so hard,” my daughter told me the day after she had gone to help her Dad settle down for the evening while I had an unexpected trip out of town.
“Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry that you felt that sadness yet so proud of you for letting it all out,” I replied.
“I do feel better but it’s just so hard to accept that Dad has to go through this,” she said with tears forming in her eyes.
I reached over and gave her a big hug. We held each other for a few minutes and shed some tears together.
It was not always that way. There was a time when I thought I had to be stoic. I was the martyr who felt like I needed to be strong for everyone else. I was the sweet pastor’s wife who held it together and smiled no matter what. I kept thinking my first husband, Bill, would get better. Things would go ‘back to normal.’ Instead, the ‘normal’ marker kept moving downward. I kept pushing through and holding back the tears. So many times I was angry and I pushed that emotion down as well. It was the worst thing that I could do. It took the shock of hearing that I had lupus to confront the anger and sorrow head on.
When I got to my car to drive home that day after that doctor’s appointment I felt completely numb. I was tempted to continue in the fog but something changed inside me. I could not believe that yet another trial was being added to what was a very full platter. I started pounding on the steering wheel of the car and yelling, “This is just not fair. God. Where are you in all this?” I don’t know how long I carried on like that, but when it was over I started to cry. Not just tears streaming down my face but gut wrenching sobs that wracked my body.
The tears started out as self-pity as I was president of the “Poor-Me-Club” at the time. Then I remembered Dad’s teaching on the difference between earthly and godly sorrow found in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (Voice) “Now this type of deep sorrow, Godly sorrow, is not so much about regret; but it is about producing a change of mind and behavior that ultimately leads to salvation. But the other type of sorrow, worldly sorrow, often is fleeting and only brings death.” I had been caught in a web of regret that kept me feeling like a victim. I began to ask the Lord to change my mind about my situation and allow me to see my situation from His perspective. I decided to change my behavior from that point on. I would be the most positive person in any room I entered because of His hope at work in my life.
What can you do differently?
Face your emotions
Emotions are neutral. Feeling them fully is a blessing as they are simply telling you that you are carrying a burden that is too heavy for you to handle. Tears can provide a release of pent up emotions so they don’t stay in your body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage you to cry.
Assignment: Keep a journal of what has allowed the emotional release of tears. Check for the times when you may have pushed them aside and make space for a time to let them be the release of your pain. Find those who are willing to listen to your heart and share freely.
Refuse to apologize for your tears
Most people say, “Please excuse me for crying. I am trying hard not to because it makes me feel weak.” The opposite is true. It takes strength and self-awareness to cry. Crying makes you feel better, even when a problem persists. Tears are part of the process that can heal your heart. You don’t want to hold tears back. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity.
Assignment: Make a mind-map of why you feel like crying. This may be harder than you think so relax and start writing down what you feel. I drew teardrops and put the source in each one. Present this to the Lord ask Him to carry the sorrow.
Ride the wave to comfort
The basic principle in my book, The Power of Hope in Mourning: Ride the Waves to Comfort is to welcome the wave of grief every time you feel it hit you. Tears help you process loss in the right way so you can keep living with an open heart. As tears hit your unexpectedly in the pickle aisle of the grocery store, stop for a few minutes. Feel the sorrow and ask the Lord to carry it for you. Finish shopping and show hope and kindness to all who are waiting in the checkout line.
Assignment: Get together with a good listener and talk it out. Let them know what is going on. Pray together. Allow the rainbow effect to take root in your heart. How is God using your transparency? What level of compassion have you developed that allows you to reach out to others who are hurting?
Thank You, Lord, for caring about my sadness. It is amazing to me that you take the time to keep track of all my sorrow. It’s never too much for You. In fact, it’s so precious to You, that You have a special bottle where you collect these tears. You write them down in your book. You embrace me and comfort me as I mourn and You are so close when my heart is broken. I am grateful and will cherish my tears in the same way You do.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.