When I was a teenager, my older brother brought his lovely, poised new girlfriend home to meet us. He introduced me by saying, “And this is Diane; she can cloud up and rain at a Hallmark commercial.”
Dear God. It was – and still is – true. And it remains something about me I would change in a heartbeat if I could.
In Christian circles we are fond of saying, “tears are a gift from God”. The idea is that the ability to feel deeply and express ourselves openly is something God values and has given us out of His abundance. Someone will usually quote John 11:35: “Jesus wept”.
I appreciate gifts, I really do. But this is one I would love to exchange.
No offense, God, but even at this late date maybe I could switch it out for something like a more robust and uninhibited sense of humor; perhaps a penchant for effortless hospitality; or maybe a slightly longer fuse when things don’t go my way? Heck, I’d be happy if I could just multitask a little better.
Understand, I chose a career in law enforcement.
This is not a field where one can or should get all bound up in feelings, especially a woman in what has traditionally been thought a “man’s job”. I spent 21 years exposed to cruelty and unfairness. There was a lot of sadness.
But the way I handled it without tearing up or breaking down was to redirect my emotional energy into a white-hot desire to see that justice was served. (A lot of the guys I worked with handled things the same way; it wasn’t necessarily a gender thing.)
I memorized verses like Micah 6:8:
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
and Amos 5:24:
“Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-ending stream.”
(I like it when things are spelled out clearly in Scripture, especially in list form. And those nature images work for me every time, too.)
As I drove the government car to and from work or around the community working cases, I kept the radio tuned to a Christian station, just to keep me grounded in the reality of Who was really in charge.
Oh, I occasionally had to do multiplication tables in my head or bite the inside of my mouth till it bled, to keep from visibly succumbing to emotion. I mean, the last thing I wanted was to be seen as weak. But for the most part, re-framing my deep feelings as a source of energy for the job I did worked pretty well for me in my career.
On a personal level, it’s something I haven’t mastered.
There are people in my life (and yours, too) who are not moved by tears; they’d rather we extreme feelers would just get over it and do something. I get that. Me, too.
So I strive to “man up” and redirect my emotions in a tangible direction in my personal life. I’m all about the cause of social justice now and I passionately support organizations that pursue it. I get angry about modern day slavery and child abuse and gender inequality.
Pray. Give money. Sponsor a child. Write.
And all these things I care about, that matter so much? Yep. They make me cry.
Tears are like an underground spring. You might cap it in one place, but it’s going to bubble up somewhere else eventually. Trying to plug up all those fissures in the rock is exhausting. I’m exhausted.
Stop trying to stuff it. Let the tears flow. Embrace the gift. Accept who you are. I’ve heard all that. And I’m working on it. I know I’m supposed to ask God to break my heart for the things that break His. I do.
But I keep looking for the gift receipt on this package. I figure if God values tears so much, they should be worth something dandy in exchange. And then I could stop crying at those emotionally manipulative commercials, too.
- Maybe This Will Help - February 10, 2017
- I’m Firing Olivia Pope - January 24, 2017
- I’m crossing some things off my list this year - January 11, 2017
- I learned a new word - November 30, 2016
- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016