Monday, September 15, 2014

For Crying Out Loud

Crying jags... we've all had them. And they can come at the worst times, so let's talk about this "new normal" today and help each other navigate and find our way through. Tears are unpredictable. We don't cry when we think we should; other times a crying spell can hit right out of the blue. I can think of many examples.

I'll never forget an older black man who got in an elevator with me years ago in a parking garge near downtown Cleveland. I'm all about keeping myself safe and I really didn't want a man in there with me, but sometimes, what can you do? It was a glass elevator, so I felt a bit safer, and in spite of my nervousness it turned into one of those moments when you see God's fingerprints.

The Cleveland skyline
with Terminal Tower in the center.
For small talk we were commenting on the Cleveland skyline. It was just a few weeks after 9/11 so we talked about what be like if our city landmark--Terminal Tower-- was missing like New York's Twin Towers? We imagined a gaping hole where it should be. We grew silent, the elevator came to a stop, and then the man started weeping. We exited and he walked over to a concrete ledge of the walkway from the parking garage. Leaning on it, wiping his eyes and trying to collect himself, he said, "I was in the Korean platoon... we lost so many..."

I'll never forget another scene: Uncle Bill at Christmas time after Aunt Barbie passed from battling cancer. The aunts, uncles, cousins and Great Grandma Bowman all sat visiting in the living room while our little kids ducked in and out, jazzed on sugar and chasing each other. You know how sometimes it's loneliest when you're in a crowd? Bill sat there with tears streaming down his face. All alone in the midst of family. We were all awkward and didn't know what to do. My 4 year-old Lisa was the smartest one in the room that day. She climbed into his lap and let him cry.

And then when a friend of mine lost her father--- She'd been working so hard to get through the grief and thought she'd gotten most of the tears out of her system. But then 4th of July struck her with unexpected tears and she spent most of the holiday afraid to go out without breaking down. She didn't know where it all came from until she remembered that her grandma had died twelve years previously on 4th of July weekend.

A few times since we've been married Tom will hear a song on the radio or tv, and I'll catch him with tears in his eyes. He finds me in the same way, too, every now and then. We appreciate that we can put an arm around the other and let the tears pass. We don't make them stop. We know they'll stop when they've served their purpose.

Why do I share these sad stories with you?

Because they're beautiful. You see, God made us in His image, and the fact that we grieve is evidence of His image. We grieve because we love, and God is love. We remember because God remembers. We relive and revisit those most profound memories like the Korean War veteran and my friend whose Grandma had died, because God has set eternity in our hearts.

Eternity in our hearts means this to me: Our compassion has no timeframe. God created us in His image as eternal beings. Sure, we move on, grief becomes bearable, memories become more a matter of honoring. Yet every once in a while, out of the blue, the grief will come like a suprise rain shower, as if the sorrow was yesterday instead of months or years ago. And everytime that happens I learn something about myself and stand in greater awe of my God.

How about you? I think we can talk about this without getting stuck and wallowing in sorrow. Do you remember a time when tears caught you by surprise? What happened? What triggered them?Comment today, and come back tomorrow for a light-hearted questionairre. ferree


  1. It's good to be reminded that unexpected tears, even after 3 years, are ok. Thank you.

  2. When I see an older couple holding hands, or he's holding the door open for her, or he's behind her with his hand on the small of her back....I cry buckets. That was the way Gary always treated me and I miss him so much.

  3. Hugs to you, Ruby and Susan. Thank you for your comments today---tears are always ok. No matter how long it's been...

  4. When my Soldier came home from deployment. Surprisingly, I didn't cry then. It was when I was alone and thought about my beloved husband not here sharing this experience and seeing his amazing son. Yesterday at church, talking with a woman (her husband knew my George), sharing about our wayward girls, and she stated how she was grateful for her husband being there for her. I teared up, missing my George. Then today, returning something I had bought, not thinking of anything particular --- the young lady who was serving me had an engagement and wedding ring on her finger that was almost like mine but had lost a year ago while on a trip. I walked out with tears. I AM a bit more sensitive these days with the loss of my precious Mom, but even almost 11 years later, some time, somewhere, out of the blue, the tears hit, whether a sweet or sad reminder.

    I shared this quote in another post, and it is one of my favorites:

    “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” ~ Washington Irving ~

    I believe tears are a gift from God. ~Beth~

  5. After over three and a half years the tears can come unexpectedly for me as well. They sometimes come when I think about my husband, Wayne. They also come when I think about heaven especially songs about heaven or any song about the Lord and His presence in trials. I also can tear up much more quickly now when I hear of someone else's heartache. I loved this blog post that tells me that tears after all this time is good and normal-that they are a reflection of being made in the image of God I also love Beth's quote, "There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness but of power."

  6. I have a very hard time getting through church services. My mind goes to my sweet husband who passed 12 years ago and I find myself crying when I am trying to pray. I wish I could compose myself; but I think God knows I need to feel the sadness and not try to hide my feelings of loss and loneliness.

  7. Yes, I think God know too. Psalm 56:8 (KJV) Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
    Your tears are a precious testament to love and faith...


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