We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear . . . and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?
I haven’t responded to a Daily Prompt since March 18, because I’ve been sick and tired and depressed for quite a while, but when I saw today’s prompt I had to respond!
Since you don’t know me well, let me start off by telling you that for many years, I was unable to cry. I learned years ago to stifle my tears, out of fear, pride, bitterness and rebelliousness. As a child who was made fun of for having “buck-teeth” and the last name of Payne, I learned to swallow my tears, because even though my classmates tormented me, I refused to give them the satisfaction of seeing just how badly their words wounded me.
And then, there was my home life… All too often, if I would cry, my mother would warn me to, “Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about!” And she would too. I can remember getting beatings from my parents, and nearly choking on my tears, trying not to let any escape past the huge lump in my throat, sometimes with success, and sometimes unsuccessfully.
Did you know that you really can will yourself not to cry and not to feel? The problem with that is when you begin blocking one emotion, it inevitably leads to blocking all emotions. When that happens, we become so out of touch with our feelings, that we really don’t know how we feel about anything. I remember not knowing how I felt about things, and so I would carefully watch how others responded to certain situations, to see how I “should feel.” I eventually came to the point that I was unable to cry — whether I was happy or sad. The tears just wouldn’t come.
It is a good sign if a person is able to shed tears. An individual who had had much experience in spiritual matters once made this statement: Giving your love to a person who cannot shed tears is like handing over your money bag to a thief to keep. This is quite true. A person often feels uneasy about giving his love to one who cannot shed tears. For tears are the one thing that is indispensable in this world. It can rightly be said that a person who is unable to shed tears has lost something of the very essence of man: he can no longer be considered as being human.
~ Practical Issues of this Life ~
by: Watchman Nee
To be unable to cry was a terrible thing. As a child, I learned to repress my emotions as an act of self-preservation, but by doing so, I killed something inside of me. You see, tears are an outlet of the heart. So what do you do, when that valve has frozen and will not let any tears escape?
You could do what I did. I remember reading the following verse from Psalm 56, and how it caused me to begin to ponder and pray to God about it.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.
Isn’t that amazing? God keeps track of all our sorrows. He knows how deeply wounded I was as a child, and He cared. I can’t help but be amazed about this every time I read it or think about it! He has collected all of your tears, and all of my tears and placed them in His bottle. Imagine that! Your tears and mine too, are so important to God, that He has collected each and every one of them. Isn’t that awesome? And get this — He has a written record of every single tear that you have shed throughout your entire life, because those tears mean that much to Him. Do you remember every single tear that you’ve cried? I don’t, but God does.
When I read that scripture and realized how important our tears are to God, I began to pray, first, asking God to forgive me for quenching my tears, and then, asking Him to give me back my tears. “Lord, help me to cry again. Restore my tears in Jesus’ name.” I won’t lie to you. It took a few years for me to have the privilege of crying again, but I got those tears back.
Having said all of that, 2013 has been an especially difficult year for me so far. Lord willing, the worst is behind me, and the best is yet to come! I lost my mother in February, the day after Valentine’s Day, and my heart has grieved for her. I never dreamed it would be so painful, and though I knew I loved her, I never realized how much I loved her. I’m sitting here weeping as I share this.
Anyway, January and February were both difficult months, as I dealt with my own physical issues, and my mother’s dying. Then, in the beginning of March, I got terribly sick — to the point that I thought I was dying. I had a horrible infection called Clostridium Difficile. It was terrible, and I was hospitalized for several days because of it. After returning home from the hospital, I was extremely weak and nauseous for several weeks — actually up until just a couple of days ago.
It was horrible. With all that has gone on in these first few months of the new year, I was unable to attend church during this time of trouble, and I fell into a dark place, as the spirit of heaviness oppressed me. During the last few months, I’ve wept more tears of pain and sorrow than I ever remember crying. You would think those tears would just dry up, but they just keep coming. However, if I have to choose between shedding those tears or repressing them, I choose to shed them, because there’s a release that comes after I’ve cried, as though those painful things have been cleansed. It also helps, knowing that my dear sweet heavenly Father values my tears.
I shared all of this so that you can truly appreciate my answer to the question, “When was the last time you shed tears of joy?” The last time I cried tears of joy was last night, when I attended a very special worship service at my church, as we celebrate this holy week in remembrance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As I walked into the sanctuary with my pastor, who drove me to church, because I was unable to, I felt the joy of the Lord wash over me. As I helped prepare the communion, pouring the juice into the individual cups, and then helped to prepare the altar for the service, my heart was filled with contentment.
Have you ever been homesick? That’s how I’ve felt these last three months, and when I entered the sanctuary, I felt as though I’d come home. And then, my pastor asked me to open the service in prayer, and overwhelming joy flooded my soul as I realized that in spite of everything, I had been through, the Lord could still use me to bless others. When it came time for the foot washing, in remembrance of when Jesus cleansed the disciples feet, my pastor called for the ministers to come forward to wash the feet of the least among us, the children, and so, the other ministers and I knelt at the feet of the children in our congregation, and washed their feet as we prayed over each child.
“But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.”
What a privilege to humble ourselves and serve the children and the youth! My pastor then had the ministers sit down, as she humbled herself and washed the feet of the adult members of the church and the ministers. After this, she singled out one of the children, a girl who is often angry and rebellious, a girl who reminds me a little bit of myself as a child, in that she feels overlooked and unloved, and so she acts out sometimes. It was this girl that she asked to wash her feet, as she told her that the Lord had chosen her over the adults and ministers, to pray for her and wash her feet. You could see how seriously this girl took this invitation, as she soberly looked into her pastor’s eyes, with tears glistening, and then knelt at her feet and slowly, solemnly and gently washed first one foot and then the other, quietly praying.
After this, we sang together as the Spirit led. My heart was flowing over with joy, and last night, for the first time in such a long, long time, I wept with joy, and as I wrote this post, I was again, weeping with joy!
Cheryl A. Showers