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Tears are a Language God Understands

March 31, 2018

It is Good Friday once again; one of the most memorable events on the calendar. Our people gather, we remember Jesus’ suffering with somber songs, and then we divide the men and women for sharing/testimony time. This is a unique and special part of our bi-annual Communion service, a rare opportunity to hear about the lessons learned and deeper struggles from the past few months of each one present. True to form, one of the ladies goes and grabs a box of Kleenex soon after we’ve begun the sharing time. It’s standard issue for these sorts of occasions.

But I’m afraid I have a deplorable confession to make…I’m ashamed at times of our tears.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not much of a crier; but maybe it is more than that. Maybe I’m ashamed of our femininity in these situations. Ashamed of the weakness it implies. I disdain the stereotype of women always being “overly emotional”. We are expected to not be able to keep our emotions in check like it is something we simply can’t control, though somehow men can (which I expect a man’s unchecked emotion shows up more in terms of anger/aggression). A woman’s emotional state is not a bottle of nitro waiting to blow (into a tissue) at the slightest gesture.

I am not a feminist by any means, but I do believe in strong women. Women who have taken their brokenness and weakness to the Lord and have been made strong in the power of His might. I believe the Bible reveals that God made women to reflect the gentle, nurturing, compassionate, and yes, even emotional aspects of His nature to the world; but that does not mean that He has intended for us to be weak-minded or irrational. Neither does it mean that we should try to prove our “strength” by striving to be equal to or better than men. A woman’s God-ordained strength lies in her ability to stand with her feet firmly anchored in the Word and the Lord Jesus. To be immovable in the face of devilish opposition and encouraging others to do the same, as well as having the strength to admit when we need others to hold us up as well.

The sharing time continues and the Kleenex box goes around the circle. The tears of these sisters are honorable. They reveal lives that desperately want more of God to the exclusion of all else. Thus far I’m doing alright, just soaking in the details and making mental notes of prayer requests; but then the young mother spills her burden of an aching heart as she bounces her contented little one in her arms. Something of her hurt beats a pulse across my heart and I spill over too. She is not ashamed of her tears. She is beautiful in her brokenness; and we have the great privilege of sharing with her in this moment of strength found through weakness. This is when we are strong−both men and women. When we humble ourselves and trust in the Lord in those rocky places that hurt and don’t make sense. We shed salt water right along with her and they bind us that much closer together. We “rejoice with those that do rejoice, and weep with those that weep” in sweet, communal abandon.

Neither a woman’s nor a man’s tears were meant to imply weakness (King David was a man well aquainted with tears and was no less honorable because of it). Indeed, in a redeemed life, they can display the strength that comes from a surrendered and humble heart. As redeemed women, we should begin asking the Lord to temper our emotional responses so that we may honor and glorify Him through them, instead of being known as “emotionally unstable”. May our tears be yet another opportunity to bring glory back to God.

***

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?

-Psalm 56:8

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