Sometimes gifts from God are straightforward, like a beautiful sunset.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a gift that is, perhaps, less obvious—the ability to cry. I inherited my mother’s tender heart. We cry when we are sad, happy, overwhelmed, tired, touched or feeling any other sort of strong emotion.
Sometimes this is embarrassing, like when I’m seeing a movie with new friends. I look around and realize that I am the only one moved to tears by the “intensity” of the scene and silently scold myself. For heaven’s sake! You’re an adult! Keep it together.
But what I try to remember is that this tendency I have is really a gift. I’d always heard that the act of crying is actually a stress reliever, so I took the liberty of doing a little research. In Psychology Today, Dr. Judith Orloff reminds us that
“tears are [our] body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration…they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.”
How cool is that?
We can probably all think of times in our lives when tears were a blessing. While working toward my masters in social work, I had an internship at a big nonprofit doing refugee resettlement. I was assigned my own “case,” a precious Bhutanese family that I worked with throughout my time there.
When I met them, they had just arrived in the US. They had been living in a refugee camp for more than ten years in a hut with no electricity, barely enough food, and the constant threat of violence nearby. I can’t describe how amazing it was to watch them adjust to their new environment. Though they had little by our standards, they were filled with hope and excitement just to have a safe, clean place to live and the opportunity to work.
As my internship came to a close, I tried to think about how I was going to say goodbye. The oldest son spoke English fairly well, so I decided to write them a letter. I put off delivering it for as long as possible. I hate goodbyes. When I finally pulled up to their apartment complex and knocked on the door, the grandfather answered. The rest of the family was out. My heart jumped as I bowed in greeting to him. “Namaskar.” That was all the Nepali I knew. He beckoned me to sit, and my mind raced.
I couldn’t wait for them to return. My procrastination had put me in a difficult position.
As I sat there on the couch holding my letter, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I felt so deeply for this family. They had experienced so much suffering, and I was inspired by their sweet spirits. Tears started rolling down my cheeks, and then I couldn’t stop.
It was unprofessional, and it must have seemed strange to the elderly Bhutanese man sitting there next to me. Yet, somehow I think he understood. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Our eyes spoke to each other across the language barrier, and I left my letter on the coffee table feeling confident that he would know how to explain my visit to the family.
When my (now) husband visited my family for the first time, we were already making plans for him to move to Texas from his native Costa Rica. We said goodbye at the airport not knowing exactly when we would see each other again. I cried for the entirety of my 45 minute drive home. Tears poured out of me like a dam finally breaking, and I released all the emotions of the last few months.
I cried joyful tears because I found the ONE at last! I cried sorrowful tears as I remembered our goodbye. I ached already to be with him again. I cried tears of worry and fear as I wondered how God would work in this situation. What sacrifices and challenges would we face these next few months? Could we survive?
When I got home, my dad was alone in the kitchen. He comforted me as best he could, and then he asked me a question that no one had asked me yet. “Do you think…maybe…you love him?” Our relationship was still so new, and I had always been slow to open my heart, but I knew immediately that my answer was “yes”.
Sometimes our feelings are too powerful to express in words. Our tears say it all. Our joys and sorrows are freed through cathartic tears, and this is truly a gift from God.
By Kara B. Rodriguez, Spring is in the WorldLeave a Comment
Catharsis | Spring is in the World says
[…] Good morning, dear ones! Today I’m sharing a post that I wrote for the WONDERFUL folks at (in)courage. I am so honored to be featured here. I love visiting their website because it makes you feel like you’re snuggled up on the couch with a mug of something hot and delicious having a heartwarming conversation with a trusted friend. Please click over to read my thoughts on crying (it’s more upbeat than it sounds) and explore the inspirational thoughts of the ladies who write for this wonderful website. https://aws.incourage.me/?p=42966 […]
Thank you for sharing your story. Speaking as one who has almost completely shut down her tears (very, very unhealthy) I’m so happy to hear that you remember to be grateful for yours. He made them for our own healing and they are very important.
Thanks, AJ! I hope this inspires you to open the floodgates again. 🙂
Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams says
I love your tender heart, Kara. And as one who also weeps easily, I agree: tears can be a gift.
Hizzah for the weepers among us! Thanks, Katie. I love your tender heart, too.
I had never thought about the ability to cry being a gift. So true, and so beautiful. Thank you, Kara!
Emily Simmons says
I had never thought about the ability to cry being a gift. So true, and so beautiful. As someone who doesn’t cry easily, I often need the cathartic release tears bring. Thank you, Kara!
Thank you, Emily! 🙂
I used to think crying was a sign of weakness. In all honesty, I guess I thought more like a guy. You know, the gotta measure up mentality. Lately I’ve given over to the urges of emotion. I feel more human and more healthy.
I think tears make us feel vulnerable which can be scary. So, our initial response is to avoid that feeling. But you’re so right, Lisa! If we embrace it, we do feel better and healthier. 🙂
I never used to cry, and now I sob at commercials with kids in them. 😉 Life has a funny way of softening our hearts….
Thanks for sharing Kara – way to use your wordsmithing gifts! 🙂
Haha. I know what you mean. I’ve always been a crier, but I never thought I would be such a sappy romantic until I met Bryan. It’s ridiculous. Thanks for the encouragement, Dani! I have admired your writing skills since I sat next to you in Professor Cullum’s class freshman year, so that really means a lot.
Okay, now you’re making me cry. LOL I never would have described myself as tender-hearted in the past. Although I would cry when picking out Hallmark cards. But I have turned into that tender-hearted, cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat girl this year. The Lord has turned my life upside down and I believe that hard shell has cracked making me much more tender. The experience you described about driving away crying from The One is what I identified with. I did that earlier this year and drove 3 hours in a blinding tearfest. Now I cry at God’s tenderness to me and for many of the other reasons you listed. It is very cathartic. Thanks for sharing this post.
Beautiful thoughts, Kristi! Thank you for sharing that. I’m glad you were able to identify. 🙂
This is a great post! Sometimes I’m crying on the inside even if there are no tears on the outside. Crying is brave and it expresses so much. I admire those who are able to do it.
Thank you, Abby!
Lydia M says
Kara, this was beautiful. It was exactly what I needed to hear tonight. I am so proud of you!!!!!
Thank you, Lydia! I’m so glad to hear that. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Thank you for this post! It truly explains a lot to me. These past few months I have cried a river of tears. Never realizing it was a release of stresses. I could/do cry at commercials, church, if I hear right song…you name it.
Now I understand I was trying to relieve myself from stresses at work & with my aging father. What a revelation! I’m strong in some ways, but ohh soo tender hearted!
Beautiful beautiful post!
Thank you for this comment, Beth. It sounds like I have a kindred spirit in you. It’s amazing to finally realize the subconcious reason for a physiological response. I like to think that strong and tender-hearted can go together!
ahha It is enough to say that I got teary just reading this post about the Bhutanese family? I think a lot of times I am ashamed to cry so easily, but you’re right, it is a blessing to be able to feel things so deeply and express that easily. Congrats on finding the man of your dreams!
Haha. Thanks, Leah! I wish I could have posted a picture of this tiny Bhutanese grandfather. He was so precious. 🙂
Day Thirteen: Laughter is the Best Medicine | Spring is in the World says
[…] I wrote for (in)courage once about the benefits of crying. It turns out that laughter provides significant health benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, laughter provides us with the following short and long term health benefits: […]