•Learning to Cry•

For many kids growing up, girl or boy, at first, crying was fine. It served as a sign that you were in need of something- food, comfort, someone’s arms. But, as we get older, independence is expected meaning, you need less or in other words, cry less. You cried when you fell and skinned your knee or if a friend called you a name. But, those tearful moments grew deeper in time and they hurt more. Maybe a significant other cheating on you or your best friend diagnosed with cancer. You lose a parent or maybe a child. Depression has become routine and getting out of bed physically hurts. Or maybe you’ve lost the ability to care, to feel. Whatever it is, these are the moments that invite tears and yet, we slam the door to the waterworks, desperately hoping the dam doesn’t burst.

Why do we push away the tears? Is it so we can keep face and convince others that we’re doing “good” or “just fine, how about you”? Sure, that might be the surface reason but, there’s a much deeper reason we hate to admit… brokenness. We are broken people and often, we equate feeling worthless, rejected, unloved, or acceptance of current circumstances with tears, so we deny them, along with the root of the problem.

"Oh your spouse cheated on you? You must be hard to love"- rejected, unworthy, unloved.
“You’re clinically depressed? Yikes! You sure have issues. A shrink might do you some good… If you can even be helped”- inferior, not worthy of love or respect.
“If I cry about possibly losing my best friend, she’ll have no one there for her”- assuming her strength, and yours, come from you, not Jesus.
All of life’s trials bring floods of emotions that can consume us and “if that one tear slips, I might drown”. These are the thoughts that we try so hard to believe, and yet they fail.

Maybe it’s first born syndrome, who knows but, I’ll be the first to admit: I hate crying in front of people- hate it. Refusal to cry in the presence of others is a huge coping mechanism for me that often comes with “well if I cry, they’ll know they hurt me and we sure can’t have that”, ” I am stronger than this- no tears”, “I’m too weak to actually bear what will come up with the tears”… and so on and so forth. The excuses are endless. And so, one night, I was talking to a friend and she looked me straight in the face and said, “Lauren, crying is not weakness, it’s strength.” It was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks, made me want to scream and cry all at the same time because I knew it was true but, I hadn’t realized it until that moment. Suddenly, my “perfect, always-together” facade and my pride of “I never cry, I’m so strong” mentality took it’s last breath. You see, it takes guts to allow others to really see us and I realized I wasn’t the courageous person I thought I was. I was so weak because I was so afraid of what people would think, if they actually knew my tears- my brokenness.

There are all different types of people and I speak to those who can relate to always needing to be the pillar of strength- for friends, family, and yourself. But, when we assume that position, we fall into self-dependence and no longer need Jesus until we crack and oh, we will shatter. Not only do we suffer through holding it together but then, we cry about “always having to be the strong one”. Loved one, can I just say people see what we allow them to. They expect what we give them and if we give them no tears and all strength, they begin to think that’s who you really are, all the while, you’re fed up with people’s “expectations”.

My heart aches for the church as it so often is the place we feel we really have to keep up appearances. It has obtained this reputation of the place you dress up for, with your family all smiles, and multiple exchanges of “good, thank you”. Author, Lisa Harper, made the point of what if when we entered the doors of church we said,’hi, my name is ____ and I am a sinner”? Isn’t that the mindset we should have with each other? That we are broken people, who cry. We have messes deserving of so many tears. And guess what? Jesus begs you to give Him your mess and to let your tears fall into His hands. He loves to catch your tears and wipe them away. People see tears and they don’t know what to do because it’s unprofessional or awkward. Tears are messy. Make-up bleeds everywhere, snot and tears end up on clothing, and embarrassingly inhumane sounds escape our pursed lips as we tremble and yet, it’s a beautiful mess.

As He has molded me over the last couple of years, I have discovered there are few better things in this world than having someone share in your sorrow. When we let our guard down, to someone safe, and allow them to see our mess, imperfections, and weakness’, suddenly we become real. We start to live and feel fully. There is such sweet surrender in letting the tears flow, sitting beside a loving soul.

You see, the key to surrendering to Jesus is going back to those years when it was ‘okay’ to cry. When you were helpless, vulnerable, and trusting- being mostly untouched by the world’s daggers.

When your tears fall and your arms flail, He is the daddy that will pick you up and give you exactly what you need. Surround yourself with people that let you cry and see you as strong because of it. And together, surrender the tears to the one who is close to the brokenhearted. Learn to cry, for “… we need Thee, every hour.”

Beaten Path

I have this fear that drives me- drives me to fear. A world of what-ifs and why nots leaves me spinning faster than a wind vane in a tempest. Wind screams “this way, no that!”. West and east, they pull and tear, north and south they lure me to tears. Walking in a standstill, running but no direction, searching but no distinction! Passion keeps building with no where to go- I fear all roads may soon lead to madness. Panting, raging, stumbling, how much longer must One search? Keep running, keep running they roar- don’t stop now or you’ll go nowhere. Glancing at the surroundings flashing by- color and beauty all whiz together- but no time to stop- must keep running. This black-white road worn and wrought by societal winds washing everything in its path down…down. Stumble, trip, pain… A stick clinging in the mud, desperately resisting the flow. “How long must one run to see they’re going nowhere?” he sputters. “Progress comes in many ways, does it not? One may run faster and harder than most but is he not just functioning?”
My soul tells me there is something great waiting to be discovered, birthed, unveiled. It writhes within me pleading to come out and yet I cannot bear it, no matter how hard I push. It’s as if it foreknows the trying times ahead. I coax and beg and it teases now and then, though remaining inside. Find a passion you’d die for they say. Willingness- present. Passion- all here. Purpose- in waiting. Winds and rain, no longer control this wreckless being. I lay here, broken and torn, sail-less in a seething sea. The world whirling around me on this black-white road that I can no longer walk. They say you’re strong if you make it on this road, if you keep the pace or even outrun it. Is not courage born through ingenuity? Bravery cultivated by facing the unknown? Many run to keep going- few stop to see where they are headed, for the sake of not losing ground. Crawling off the road and looking into the distance, crashing thunder echoes behind me, as the whipping winds transform to a whisper. Unexplored territory lies at my feet, pregnant with possibility; stirring to be awakened by the fearlessly driven.

“We perfect, most dangerously, our children…When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say ‘oh look she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect- make sure she makes the tennis team by 5th grade and Yale by 7th grade.’ That’s not our job! Our job is to look at them and say ya know what, you’re imperfect and wired for struggle but you’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s our job.”

Dr. Brene Brown
{Red Roller, Red Roller- let the curls come over.}

{Red Roller, Red Roller- let the curls come over.}

||10 ways to feel more alive in a day||

1. Stand in the freezing water and then turn on the hot. Feel the gift of warm water. 

2. Bite into a juicy piece of fruit and let it seep down your chin. Life is messy. Join it.

3. When the tears come, let them. It takes courage to cry, not weakness. 

4. When you feel that someone needs a hug, don’t stand stiff. Reach out and embrace them… a shoulder pat is better than nothing. Touch is powerful.

5. Pray with someone… outloud and in their presence. Maybe even hold their hand. 

6. Walk in the cold air and let it chill your body- you’re able to feel.

7. Smile.

8. Take a deep breath, because you can. Remember you have life in your lungs.

9. Run with your arms like an airplane… who cares.

10. Sing. Sing loud. Not everyone can do that.

Our senses bring life and allow us to live. Don’t let pain push out joy or fear scare away freedom. You’ve been given a life so don’t waste it. Don’t believe the lies the world sells that hardening your heart, “growing up”, sucking it up, and so on protects you- it only prevents you from really living. 

Fourth Presbyterian Church. Michigan Avenue. Chicago.

Fourth Presbyterian Church. Michigan Avenue. Chicago.