For the better part of my life I have been a closet-crier. Tears did not come often but when they did I hid them. Whether they were tears of sadness, anger, or frustration, as a child I lacked the ability to clearly communicate why I was crying and in our home tears for no good reason were tears that should be stopped. I became very good at stopping this unwanted watery overflow. Through the years I prided myself in my ability to withstand this messy display of emotion, seeing myself as a rock of self-control. So when the dam gave way without warning, I was caught quite off guard. I found my previously strong will was no match for this deluge that had broken through, years of suppressed emotion flooding my life.
This most unwelcome event happened at the lowest point in my life. Angry, sad, and depressed at the bleakness of my circumstances, the tears poured forth without mercy and I no longer had any resistance. My only consolation was that I was alone. No one saw the red nose and puffy eyes day after day, no one was privy to the anguish of my soul as I stayed hidden from the world. I cried more than I believed humanly possible and I hated it.
Much occurred between me and God during this time. In His goodness He drew me close, renewed by faith, and restored my hope. But He left my heart more tender than it had ever been and He didn’t stop the tears.
I cry so easily now. I won’t say that I always welcome the tears and I can’t say that I am entirely comfortable when they fill my eyes and run down my face in the presence of others. But I have learned to yield to a heart made tender through difficulties and know that I am powerless to resist these tears that will not be stopped. They give expression to things within that cannot adequately be described in mere words. They offer release from pain that would consume me were there no outlet. They express the depths of the love I hold and the joy that rises from within. They remind me of my desperate need of Him. They usher in the Comforter and the Healer.
Sometimes they offer another a safe place to let their own tears flow with no need for explanation.
It is a difficult time of year for me and I cried as I stood at the counter of a store today. I didn’t apologize as I would have in the past, worried that I had made someone uncomfortable and couldn’t offer them an explanation. I simply reached for my tissues and continued with my purchase. As I finalized the transaction, I saw from the corner of my eye that the gentleman waiting on me was wiping a tear from his own. An uninvited, compassionate response of a stranger that will not soon be forgotten and which reminded me that we humans need tears when there are no words.