Originally published Monday, 01 August 2016.
I was raised by parents who didn’t show much emotion. It was many years later when I realized it was the older generation who grew the non-criers. They saw it as a sign of weakness. As a result I learned to be closed off about my feelings. It hit me early one morning, as I was driving to work. I was thinking about my brother-in-law’s suicide and it was if the tears I left unshed in those tension filled, grieving days were collected in a heavenly vessel. I was overcome with so many tears from so many years at the thought of re-applying mascara was impossible. In a span of about 45 minutes, regret hit and filled my mind with unexpressed love. And my emotions spilled over into my lap.
I was a DJ on a Christian Radio Station, and people tuned in to hear a happy tone. Somehow I had to gather my happy voice and speak encouragement to listeners. How could I put aside my regret-filled feelings one more time? I tumbled out of my car and plodded into the studio. It was like any other day on the inside of the building. I greeted my co-worker with a normal “hello” and he immediately sensed something was wrong. “Tears are a sign of weakness!” I scolded myself. I braced myself for the kidding ahead about being a girl and crying about everything.
My friend and co-worker said something profound which I’ll won’t forget. “Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.” Being a crier by nature, my tender heart sometimes gets the best of me. Ever been there? Do you apologize to others for showing emotions or for leaking your emotions down your face? Sounds incredibly similar to a hormone imbalance doesn’t it? I don’t know how many times I’ve apologized for crying in front of someone!
Crying is a human emotion which God has placed inside. It’s no different from anger, fear or even joy. We don’t apologize when we’re feeling happy. “Oh gee, I’m so sorry. I can’t seem to stop smiling. I’m SO embarrassed!” You often see tears at the beginning of life with newborn babies, and at the end of life when saying good-bye to a loved one. As a parent myself, I know there are buckets of tears shed in times of praying that are collected in a mother’s heart. It was years later that I discovered the encouragement in this verse:
Psalm 126:5 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.”
Having joy and tears on my mind a lot lately, I’ve been trying to understand the principle of reaping joyful heart from the tears that I have been sowing. I realized when I had cried I usually associated my tears with sad emotions, extreme waves of shock, disappointment, grief, loss, etc. That’s a natural expression of heartache and hurt.
Although grieving and letting go has a place in the death process, it’s difficult to find joy in that kind of hurt but I know that a supernatural joy exists in death. After the reading the context behind the verse, I do know that this song was written after God’s people were delivered out of captivity. I too, have cried some tears from a bound up place in my life and I’ve longed for freedom. It was in that moment, I realized the tears I was expressing had come from a supernatural place where the Holy Spirit transformed my tears into joy, in freedom from a place of my heart’s gratitude.
My heart welled up again with a joyful expression.
Sowing takes a process and requires seeds, a small start. Once planted or given over to the process of casting out, putting into the ground and fertilizing the seed, it takes time for the seed to develop and expand into the germination phase. The outer shell of the seed is softened by the grounds moisture and the water given to the fertile soil. In the softening of the seed, it sprouts with new growth. It takes a seed time to burst out with the seedling, an expression of its own design.
That’s what tears are. An expression of the heart, and some expressions just need to germinate and grow before expressing them. I think that’s how joy in freedom comes, in the expression of our hearts when we are truly free. When our hearts are truly express joy, it’s a sign of growth, from a sensitive and free place. I don’t think it shows weakness at all.
Sometimes it takes the strongest person to be honest with their expressions. What I have learned about joy and songs lately is that each time joy is sung over a battle it brings strength to the troops. Tears can also express happiness, praise, and laughter. I understand there’s a place for all our emotions. I think joy is often misunderstood and represents the sensitive side of God, who wants us to have joy alongside all phases of life. After all, it’s second to His love and a gift of the Spirit’s work in our lives. Joy and tears are expression of Heaven too. We have to remember God has blessed us with each emotion and we can always express our emotions of gratitude with freedom. It’s the language of our hearts.