It was a Saturday. Hubby and baby girl were out running errands. I was at home. Allegedly writing. Mostly thinking. About everything and nothing, as usual. Then, while I was in the shower and out of nowhere, it happened.
Scratch that. I wailed. And yes, it was the ugly cry. Nose running like a faucet. Mouth open, lips contorted. Eyes squeezed so tight that the tiny crinkles that formed in the corner of my eyes forced me to make what my daughter calls the “squishy” face.
It was awful.
Sure, I was crying about something that happened to me earlier in the week; something that hurt me terribly. Simply thinking about what was said and done was the catalyst behind my heart-wrenching sobs. But the truth underneath it all was that I was crying because, well, I needed to cry. I’d been holding in my tears for too long in an effort to appear strong. Yet just on the other side of my pain and hurt, sat the very thing that could cleanse, restore, and refresh me; the act that would make me actually strong… as opposed to just appearing so.
The release I felt from crying that day was remarkable. I felt lighter. My troubles didn’t go anywhere, the circumstance had not changed, but the emotional burden, the weight of it all had gone.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8
Call me crazy, but with this finite mind of mine, I imagine God kickin’ back in Heaven and deciding to take a leisurely walk into His “Room of Tears” where He keeps bottles and bottles, record upon record of our tears. They are safe and treasured there with Him. In fact, maybe this is where all our healing is housed. Or maybe He takes all our tears and releases them in the form of rain. It makes sense to me that our tears could be the very thing that nourishes and cleanses the Earth. They certainly cleanse us.
As mothers, I think we can find ourselves crying a lot. A good friend of mine, a woman who NEVER cried even when faced with death and destruction, turned into an expert, on-the-dime crier upon having a child. Me, I’m certain that my cry game is going to be tight by the time I watch MaKayla go off to kindergarten, or college, or have her own first child.
I also know that there was a time when I would not have been okay with that. A time when I would have viewed my tears, not as a way to cleanse my soul or to release the heaviness of heartache and pain, but as a sign of weakness. As if being weak (as in vulnerable) is a bad thing.
At least, not in this sense.
There’s grace and humility and reconciliation and, yes, peace in our ability to be vulnerable. In an effort to deal with a society that tells us that our significance as women is defined solely by our ability to be strong and hard and never show any vulnerability, we lose our tears and, as a result, lose our ability to feel—to be compassionate. Then it’s only a short trip between that and our inability to love in all the ways we as women, as mothers, are called to love.
I propose that we give ourselves permission to cry. To take a minute, hour, or day to allow ourselves to be cleansed by the release of our tears. Let’s teach our daughters (and sons) that it’s okay to cry. That you can still be strong; you can still trust God; you can still make it “do what it do” and be vulnerable. That feeling of heaviness in our chests when something hurts is waiting to burst forth. The fact that it exists is a sign of our humanity. That we are alive. Yes, that’s it. Only dead people don’t cry. Let’s resurrect ourselves. Let’s not let the weight in our lives build up and transform into those ratchet enemies of joy—anger, frustration, and stress. Believe it or not, our inability to release in this way impedes our forward movement in life. We can easily find ourselves stuck because we are unwilling to touch up those rusty, sticky, allegedly strong places with the sweet refreshing oil of our tears.
Some of y’all just need to cry. Go ahead! Get your wail on. It’s totally worth it.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.