“Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
“I don’t want to see any tears.” “Boys don’t cry.” “Real men don’t cry.” These are some of the “lessons” that we learned from our dad when we four boys were growing up. Dad did not believe in emotional children. He rarely showed any emotion himself. Crying was definitely, in my father’s eyes, a sign of weakness and he abhorred weakness. If we would cry, the admonition not to cry would be issued followed by a “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about” warning. That usually turned off the tears as we would fear what might come next.
But tears are a reflection of what is happening within. Tears can reflect sorrow, pain, joy, surprise, and a whole host of other emotions. Tears can be directed toward self and tears can be directed toward the situation of others. Tears can show that we empathize with another person’s pain or sorrow or that we join in another person’s joy or celebration.
Tears, in short, prove us to be human. And what can be more human that to desire union with God. Our souls yearn for the Almighty and for the time that we will join the Lord in paradise. Our tears, in all sorts of stages of our lives, can be healthy as they help us gaze toward heaven itself.
My dad could not stand tears, I believe, because tears reminded him of his humanity. Dad was a child of the depression and the product of a broken home. When his father left the family, my father was devastated. He stuffed all of that sadness inside himself until it welled up into a bitterness that caused a rift between him and any sibling who still talked with his father.
Letting tears out helps us to process what is going on within. Don’t reject what is happening. Instead, try to understand the source of your tears and offer them all to the Lord who understands us better than anyone else.
FAITH ACTION: Do not try to stop the tears of another. Instead, offer to listen and to be with them if they need.