Originally published October 16, 2017 on the Bridging the Gap Blog.
You’re not alone. You. There. In that lonely space, trying to keep the tears inside and a whimper behind your lips. Maybe you’re feeling anything but strong. Maybe your head is so heavy that simply holding it above your shoulders takes every ounce of effort that you have left. Me too.
I don’t know what lead you to this moment. Maybe the stress of your daily life has been piling one thing on top of the next, pushing tears through the cracks. Maybe someone you love is no longer in your life because of a falling out, a breakup or death. Maybe an important possession is lost. Maybe you’ve received a terrifying diagnosis for yourself or someone that you love. Maybe you have no idea why you’re upset, but it doesn’t matter right now because a lack of explanation does not indicate a lack of sadness.
“I’m leaking” I said to my friend one day, feeling overwhelmed with previously mundane things. I couldn’t hold the hard inside anymore. Without my permission, tears pooled beneath my eyes, poured onto my cheeks, and fell to my chest. It hurt tremendously to go ahead and feel the pain, but as the salty tears washed over my face, my soul released some of the pressure. It was then that I remembered one of my dad’s favorite sayings, “Tears are for the soul what soap is to the body.” That release of tears is a good thing for your whole being. Holding them back can actually create more pressure in your body. For me, that often feels like a soar throat and an intense headache.
I saw a man speak the other day, referencing Thessalonians 4:13. “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” He quoted the verse, and then reminded us that the author is not telling believers who do have hope to stop grieving. Rather, he is merely reminding us that the mourning and lamenting will not last forever. There will be an end to sorrow. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning nor crying, nor pain anymore. For former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). There is great hope. But we are not intended to hold back our tears while we wait for that day to come.
When Jesus went to the grave of his friend, Lazarus, he knew that in the near future he would be resurrecting him. Yet, John 11:35 tells us that “Jesus wept.” It’s the shortest verse in the Bible, but I think one of the most profound in my time of grieving. Never once did God lose hope. The creator of the world, the all-knowing, all-powerful, entirely sovereign God of the universe cried salty tears just like yours and mine.
Even though beauty often comes out of ashes… even though God will work all things for good… even though it’s tempting to pretend away weakness… especially because we are waiting for something that hasn’t happened yet, being sad is ok. When we let the tears fall, and the aching open up our hearts, then God comforts us. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 ESV)
David often called to the Lord in laments. Many of those laments are found in the Psalms. “I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flooded my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief.” (Psalm 6:6-7 NLT) “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.” (Psalm 61:1-2 NLT). And God answered him and helped him when he cried. David said, “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me… My body rests in safety.” (Psalm 16:8-9 NLT).
This will not be forever, but it is for now. It is ok to feel the hurt now, and not hide it. God sees you, and will comfort you. It is ok to go ahead and cry.
Featured image by Milada Vigerova
One thought on “Go Ahead and Cry”
“Let feelings be” has been one of my most helpful parenting mantras I’ve come upon, and it shouldn’t be surprising (but it is) that it’s helped me in making space for my own emotions too. Thank you for infusing that perspective with some biblical truth.
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