When I Cry
I tend to be an even-minded person. I can wake up late, be late to a class, fail a quiz, and not even eat lunch until 3:00, all while maintaining a generally pleasant outlook on life. Late-night studies and early-morning homework don’t normally detract from my enjoyment of each day. Most of the time, I find it relatively easy to smile and enjoy the fellowship of friends.
But that’s most of the time. Every now and then, I do break down. I buckle under the pressure of a mounting school load. I withdraw into myself and crumble under the ugliness of my sin. Every now and then, I need to hide under my covers, lie down in the backseat of the car, or lock myself in the bathroom and cry.
I don’t particularly like to cry. It doesn’t solve my problems or make me any happier. It doesn’t even make me forget what caused me to cry in the first place.
Sometimes, crying is humbling.
Recently, I had what is commonly referred to as a “meltdown.” With the beginning of a new school year came new challenges and new concerns. I had several things that were weighing on my mind, and I finally dissolved.
Crying is embarrassing. It gives me a headache or a crick in my neck, and it makes my eyes turn red – but that’s not all that crying does.
Crying reveals three crucial truths about myself, others, and God, even though I’m not always ready to see those truths.
When I cry . . .
1) I find out how weak I actually am.
I am a very proud person. I love to be in control, to make my own decisions. Even when my plans are upset, I pride myself on my flexibility in responding to unexpected circumstances.
When I break down and cry, however, I come face to face with my own weakness. Somehow in my careful planning and my controlled life I messed up. Somehow, I encountered a situation that was completely beyond me. Somehow, I lost my ability to keep smiling no matter what.
My weakness is appalling. Because when I cry, I realize that I am not simply weak at that time. Rather, my inability to handle life’s situations demonstrates that I am weak all the time. I find out that my control and planning are fronts that I put up to hide my ever-present inabilities.
At these times, I also realize that I don’t even entirely know why I’m crying. Many of the pieces are there, but many of them aren’t. Often, I never planned to cry that day – it just happened. The act of crying was completely outside of my control just as the situation was completely outside of my control.
The worst times, however, are when I break down because of something that I did. Sometimes I just do stupid things. Many times, however, my own intentional sin is the root cause of my sorrow. At these times, I am especially confronted by my weakness in falling (again) to temptation.
2) I find out how much others do care about me.
During my most recent breakdown, I was with my dear sister-in-law. She listened to my broken explanation of what was wrong. She shared God’s truth with me. She volunteered her car and keys for me to get away from people and just be alone. She offered herself if I ever needed anything. She invited me over for dinner that night.
When I unexpectedly land on a difficult situation, my tendency is to keep it to myself. If I’m worried about something, I don’t want to share that with others. If I’m hurting, I still want to be thought of as the strong person.
Sometimes, however, I can’t keep it to myself. And it’s in those times that I realize, as I did that day with my sister-in-law, that there are people around me who genuinely care about my well-being.
I didn’t plan to fall apart all over her. But if I hadn’t, I would have kept my burdens to myself. If I hadn’t, I would have continued to be miserable. If I hadn’t, I would not have had the opportunity to see God’s love channeled through one of His children into my life.
3) I find out that God is near.
When I acknowledge my own profound weakness, I am met with God’s profound strength. Ultimately, this is not about crying. You may rarely cry, or you may cry every day. The truth, however, is that when we finally acknowledge our inability to keep everything from tumbling off our plates, we can finally see that God is the one carrying us all along.
Difficulties are inherent in a sin-cursed world. But God uses these tests and trials to draw His dear children closer to Himself. No matter the problem – what others have done to me, my own sin, or the pain of circumstances outside of my control – God is waiting nearby for my sobbing heart to turn from the problem and turn to Him. My heart resonates with David’s words in Psalm 86:1-7 –
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you – you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
The next time you need to sit down and have a good cry, go right ahead. But don’t just cry about something – cry to Someone.
Cry to God.