On Memorial Day weekend years ago, our family watched a special TV show, a moving tribute to American war veterans.
I don’t remember many details about what was said, but I remember seeing my husband weep—and I remember noticing how our teenage sons took their cues from their father’s response.
They heard a powerful, unspoken message that day.
Real men cry.
I felt kind of heartless for not weeping myself that day, but I’ve been guilty of suppressing tears lots of times.
I’ll bet you have been, too.
That’s because our culture tells us a lot of nonsense about emotions, especially sadness.
Crying is for sissies.
Crying means you’re weak.
Crying is something you should apologize for.
(Boys are especially vulnerable to lies about tears. We teach them not to cry, yet expect them to become emotionally intelligent men. How fair is that?)
For both men and women, the root problem in our hesitance to express sadness is the same thing—the ugly sin of pride.
Pride tells us to keep it together. Pride tells us to look like we’re always in control. Pride tells us never to be vulnerable.
In other words, pride prevents us from living authentically.
The Bible gives us a different message.
Here are four reasons why you should refuse to hold back your tears next time you feel them stinging your eyes.
1. Shedding tears is a good way to keep your heart from becoming calloused.
Let’s say you’re able to get through life without ever letting your heart be pierced by beauty, tragedy or deep connections to others.
You know what you would successfully develop? A hard heart. Not only that, but you’d be living out a giant adventure in missing the point.
2. God treasures our tears.
Psalm 56:8 says, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
God stores up your tears. He keeps them on record. Why? Because he values them. If something matters to you, it matters to him.
Why on earth would you stuff, hide and deny the very thing God wants to collect from you as a treasure?
3. Jesus is our supreme example.
John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible, simply says, “Jesus wept.” The context here is the death of Jesus’ good friend Lazarus.
Get this. Jesus knew full well he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he still cried over his friend’s death, along with Lazarus’ sisters and other friends.
He allowed himself to feel what death does to people. He didn’t take an emotional shortcut.
Jesus also wept over the city of Jerusalem, longing for her to recognize him as who he was, but knowing, to her great loss, that she would not (Luke 19:41).
4. Your weeping gives others permission to do the same.
Shedding tears is not very acceptable in our culture, but it is healthy (it even releases toxins).
Consider this: the folks around you need a different role model than most of what they’ve seen. They need an example of counter-cultural courage.
Your vulnerability gives others permission to feel and to express feelings.
So go ahead and cry, whether over your own pain or someone else’s.
Cry to keep your heart soft. Cry because God values the very tears you feel embarrassed about. Cry, because other hurting people need permission to do the same.
Cry because Jesus did—and he, as the perfect Son of God, was the most authentic human to ever walk the planet.
You are created in God’s image, and he gave you tear ducts for a reason.