Why Cry?

wet window


Sisters, today I’d like to invite you—to entreat you to treat yourself to a certain grace-freedom God has gifted you. One that’s become almost taboo for us women in this world of staggering expectations…

Free falling, unabashed tears.

Perhaps this seems painfully basic, but I assure you, in a society that virtually chokes a woman’s license to fail and just be (gasp) real, it is not a given.

I’ve learned over the years to let my sensitive self cry–in my private moments, and yes, even in the not so. Not to fight back the tears in fits of pride (that fight is futile), but to let them spill, however inconvenient their timing; however many times I’ve succumbed to them that day. Not to edit my emotions (this is a feat for me; ever the smoother, the perfecter); but to release–letting them fall before He Who bottles them, every one. (Psalm 56:8)

For tears are a thing of beauty; the rawest expression of sorrow and joy, alike. And they heal me—God actually built a chemical into tears that supplies feel-good endorphins. Healing rain, but of another kind…

Out the window last week as I wrote, the sky poured forth its angst over the ready earth—which drank in, satiated…

…And I was reminded, just like pregnant storm clouds swell to release their burden, so must we, for we can only bear so much. As we fill to capacity with the heavy loads of this life, we must eventually empty, in a sacred, salty spill before our Heavenly Father…and at times, a captive audience.

Thankfully, just like the ready earth, most of us are ever-ready to graciously accept each other’s tears, even welcoming them—because they mean a certain intimacy extended, one wrought with honor and privilege.

As I listened to the rhythmic release out my window that day, it leant rest, healing me even then–gentle, steady, right. Yes, it’s right to release our burdens—we must. And we must grace others with the gift of receiving them…their time on the giving end will come, too.

Many of my friends have had good reason to cry lately…and yet I’ve watched several of them willfully holding back tears as they shared their hearts with me. And when they could dam them up no longer, flustered apologies came spilling out with the saline surge.

Oh, I’ve done it too–emotional release can be such a humbling affair…

But in those moments I couldn’t help but wonder, Why? Why do we women fight nature when it comes to emotional release in front of others? Why do we deny ourselves this healing rain? And why do we deny our friends the gift of witnessing our vulnerability, our guards-lowered soft sides? Glassy tears mirror the soul; inviting others in, only drawing us closer as friends.

So I’ve learned, when I see tears brimming, to embrace that sweet sister on the spot. And encourage her to let it flow–because by God’s perfect design, tears are a part of the dealing, healing process.

There is a reason it’s called a “good cry”. It’s a good thing. And we women, resolved as we are to appear perpetually buttoned up, must let it be so.

What’s more, God can use this good thing to minister…

A couple of years ago I “let it go” in the halls of my kids’ school one morning, when a sweet teacher asked how I was doing…I was mourning the passing of my sweet firstborn pup, and didn’t even try to hold it in. Later that day a friend messaged me the following:

“I just briefly passed you in the hall and was hurting for you, not even knowing what was happening or the reason behind the tears. However, it blessed me because immediately after I saw you, I was in a discussion with my daughter’s teacher and just broke down—which I never would have before—over some ‘preteen / parenting’ struggles. I feel that it was such Godly timing, because had I not just seen you being completely honest and genuine in your emotion, I don’t think I would have thought it ok to let my guard down. By letting my guard down, the teacher and myself can minister to [her daughter] so much more effectively! Thank you for your humility and honesty—it blessed me and my sweet daughter!”

In the words of Jen Hatmaker, Bless. He turned my tearful release into ministry; my ugly cry into beauty!

Not only do our tears invite other women in, but it’s in this most tender of places our God can draw close, finally able to penetrate our walls; our resolve; and minister to us. Tears signal the breaking of us–surrender. We’re more pliable when we cry.

He sees our tears, and He cares deeply…it was Hagar’s weeping in the wilderness that cued God to reach down and deliver His beloved out of her desperation:

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid…” Genesis 21:17 (NIV)

What we all want to hear, as He gathers us, tear-stained and fragile, into His embrace.

Friend, whether you’re a frequent crier like me, or you shed tears rarer than a solar eclipse, when the urge overcomes you, don’t fight it. Let it go, and let it flow, until you’re good and ready to stop. Tears are cheap therapy–God’s gift to us.

4 thoughts on “Why Cry?

  1. This is my favorite thing you’ve written, Leslie. I’ve always said that only so many tears can build up before you just have to let them out, but I’ve never thought of them as “ministry.” So good.

    1. Thanks always for reading and cheering me on, Meghan!! So thankful we can be our authentic selves in the “hood”–the “womanhood”!! xoxo

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