Tears are cleansing. They help to release stress or sadness or fear that is pent up inside of us, and when we let them out, we are often able to regain our focus and think more clearly. Not always, but sometimes.
Over the past few weeks, whew, I've let them flow on more than one occasion, and as you can probably guess, not always in a place where I want to drop my guard in front of everyone around me and cry, cry, cry.
Being a "type A" personality, I thrive on challenges, enjoy being told that something is not necessarily possible and then proving the one behind that statement, to be wrong, totally wrong. I enjoy sappy movies and commercials with kids and dogs that tug at the old heart strings. I am basically the person with very sloppy sleeves, because more often than not, that's where my heart is.
There is not a person on earth that doesn't have moments of hardship, fear, sadness and joy in their lives. Over the past week, I've had my moments, one right after the other. So, I've been vulnerable to any of the sappy moments that open those floodgates and let those tears flow.
Last week, as a thank you to my wonderful son, we went to see the Muppet Movie. Good grief! Who knew that Rainbow Connection would chink a hole in my exterior. I was more than a little embarrassed when my son leaned over and said "Mom, are you crying?".
Sunday night, Mitch Albom's Have A Little Faith was on television. Granted, Hallmark is notorious for shows that melt away your protective coating and let your emotions flow. And they did it again, oh yes, they did. By the time the movie was over, I was sitting on the couch, quietly sobbing as I watched the movie, (which was wonderful, by the way). My head was so clogged up, I had to sleep sitting up! Broke out the Vicks and put some under my nose!
This morning, I watched a video about 7 precious beagle pups that experienced freedom outside of a cage for the first time in their whole lives. They had been rescued from a medical testing facility that went out of business. I sat in the middle of the coffee shop with tissue up to my eyes, and sniffed my way through the video as these little guys experienced sunshine, grass and freedom for the first time ever. Trust me, it was a 2 hankie event. They were tears of joy, not sadness. According to the posts on Twitter, I was not the only one that found themselves in a public place mopping their face and wishing they could find a cloak of invisibility to hide under. So glad, so very glad, that there were only a couple of other customers in there and they were wrapped up in their own little worlds and were way too busy to notice the crazy woman crying at the other end of the shop. Oy!
Finally, I am sitting here, tear stained face, damp tissues and all, and I find myself reflecting on feeling foolish and wishing that sometimes, I wasn't such a sap. But......
The "but" is a big question. What would the world be like if we didn't wear our hearts on our sleeves? Bigger question, what would the world be like if it weren't for countless others that are the same way? I can answer that. The world would be in even greater need, there would be even more people reaching out for help but getting back empty hands. There wouldn't be shelters and soup lines to provide warm, safe spots to sleep or a hearty meal, there wouldn't be people who wanted to be foster parents, or animal rescue groups, or meals on wheels, or any of the other thousands of organizations and individuals that make the effort to bring a little love and comfort to countless people and animals that need the helping hand. Sometimes, it's nothing more than a smile, a helping hand with a stuck shopping cart, sharing an umbrella in the middle of a downpour, or mentoring a student that needs that extra little oomph. Sometimes, it's just a hug. We don't need a socialized system of government to make the world a better place. We need to all have a heart.
Some of you may have friends or family dealing with catastrophic illness or situations at home that are making life beyond difficult for them. You may know someone who recently lost their job or lost someone special. Maybe, it's a neighbor that just needs a ride to the grocery or doctor's appointment, because they can't afford to repair their car. Maybe you know someone that is totally alone in the world and is trying to cope with the sadness that overwhelms them during the holidays. Maybe, you have a friend facing a terminal illness and dealing with fear or anxiety about leaving family behind to deal with things on their own. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are. Take their hand in yours, hold it tight, let them know that you are there for them, no matter what, and one way or another, things will be okay. Share your faith with them at a time when theirs may be non-existent or dwindling. Pray with them, for them, hold them tight and give them a hug and just hold on and let them know it's okay to be afraid, it's okay to be sad, it's okay to cry. Your strength, your faith, your love and friendship will do more for them than all of the medicine that gets pumped into their bodies.
Our world needs a hug. We all need is to know that sometimes, it's okay to cry, whether you are a corporate mogul or a single mom with 3 kids. You are not any less of a person, it doesn't make you weak, and it doesn't mean you are not a good leader. It means you have a heart and sometimes, hearts break. Sometimes, they deal with fear. Sometimes, hearts are so full of love and joy, that they literally burst, and that is often in the form of tears of joy.
So, yes, sometimes, you just need to cry. It's not always bad thing and you are not any less of a person. In fact, those wet salty drops running down your cheeks, may very well make you a better person, because they help tell the story about what's inside of your heart.
Now, I'm not suggesting that each of you run out and find a reason to burst into tears, but do remember that the next time you feel that lump in your throat or warm, moist drops begin to roll down your cheeks, that it's okay. It's really okay. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, well, maybe they've never allowed themselves the experience of a good, cleansing cry, no matter what the reason.
Christmas is 26 days away. Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone. Trees are up, shopping under way. But, please, please, please, take a moment to remember someone that may not be able to help themselves. Buy a gift for a child whose parents may be out of work. Adopt a family in need for the holiday. Supply a week's worth of groceries for someone that is hungry. Visit a shut in, work at a soup kitchen, gather clothing for a shelter, read stories to children at the library or family shelter. Make a dinner plate for a neighbor that is a shut-in and sit with them while they eat. The food is good, the company is even better. If any of these situations bring tears to your eyes, that's because they were supposed to. If you have to choke back tears, that's good. It means that your heart is working and I don't just mean the beats and blood flow...
Remember, there is nothing so big, bad or scary or sad that you can't deal with if you ask for that extra help from God, from Jesus. In Philippians 4:13, the passage reads "I can do all of this through him who gives me strength..." It is one of my favorites and it is true.
Turn your tears into action. Believe that you really can do anything through Christ Jesus who loves you and gives you strength. You will feel better when you do something to help another.
If you haven't had one lately, don't be afraid to let those tears break through. It's okay, it really is okay. With every tear shed, think of the drops of blood that flowed from the wounds on Jesus' body as He is crucified. Cleansing...
Sometimes, you just need to cry.