While tears almost always represent some kind of strong emotion, the particular emotion may vary from person to person. One of my children most often cries when she is feeling sad, hurt or overwhelmed, while the other is much more likely to cry in anger or embarrassment. I almost never cry from frustration or sadness, but often find tears in my eyes in response to something that moves me at a heart level- a beautiful phrase, a work of art, the sunrise over the ocean, exquisite music, a prayer of thanksgiving, an experience of God’s presence, a word of truth. In short, any moment that reminds me how incredibly beautiful life can be. For me, tears are most often connected to a feeling of gratitude.
If you’ve read my blog for any time at all, you’ve heard me mention tears. “Moved to tears” is a condition in which I frequently find myself. My girls and my husband tease me about how easily I get choked up and I find them watching me in expectation during movies or whenever the mushy Hallmark commercials come on. Speaking of commercials, I’m pretty sure well over half of the Super Bowl commercials brought tears to my eyes. Seriously, lost puppies with giant equine protectors, feisty senior citizens full of wisdom, life and mischief, and little girls who know what it REALLY means to “run like a girl”….how could you not cry a little? 🙂
I cry in church fairly often. I’m not talking about weeping or sobbing, but I find myself discreetly wiping away a tear or two quite regularly. Again, for me, this is a good thing and means that something is connecting for me deeply and the Holy Spirit is at work. I remember one occasion however, when I was struggling to hold it together and had to dig through my purse for tissues. It was at a Sunday evening service at our new church only a few months after we started attending. For some reason, I had come to church by myself that day, so I was sitting alone. Leaving our old church had been very, very difficult for me and I was still feeling somewhat fragile and guarded. However, that evening, something the pastor said in the sermon spoke so directly to my broken places that I was overwhelmed by God’s presence and healing. I don’t even remember now what it was that was said, but at that moment, I was just so grateful to have this place to worship, so grateful that I hadn’t given up on church, so grateful for the music and the people and the centuries of Christians that had gone before me trying to figure out how to be the Church. Stumbling, failing, broken people, getting it wrong over and over again and yet, somehow still getting it right often enough that God keeps showing up in the midst of our beautiful mess.
Anyway, I was overwhelmed by the extravagance of God’s grace and the feeling that I might possibly have found a new home. So I was crying and not doing a very good job of covering it up. After the service was over, thinking I had straightened myself up and was looking calm, cool and collected, I reached down to get my purse and looked up to find myself face to face with a lovely lady with a kind smile on her face. “Can I give you a hug?” she said. I started to launch into an explanation of how these were happy tears and I was fine and she didn’t need to comfort me or fix me. And then, I stopped. And I said, “I would love a hug.” And we hugged. And as I pulled away, I simply said, “thank you, you are very kind.” No other words seemed necessary.
When I got out to the car, I cried once again at just how beautiful life can be. I hope the hugging lady experienced joy by being obedient to God’s tug on her heart in response to my tears that evening. Sometimes, we need a God with skin and I firmly believe that hug was as much from God as from her. What a blessing for both of us to be right in the middle of God’s love! Definitely an “I love you too, God” moment.
And an example of God’s Kingdom come.
P.S. I had forgotten about the kind lady in church until I started writing about tears tonight. We joined our new church officially this past Sunday and, although I was very happy, I did not cry. I was much more concerned about not tripping up or down the steps in my high heels when we went up front to be welcomed. As you can see, I’m not always thinking deep thoughts in church.
P.P.S. I actually was prompted to write about tears tonight after watching West Wing. I’m watching the West Wing series again and it ALWAYS makes me cry. And I still can’t even talk about the Parenthood finale…can you even? But those tears will now have to be for another post, so stay tuned!
Me too, Kelly! Many times in church I feel that lump in my throat that makes it hard to sing the words to a hymn, or tears well up in my eyes. Ann Voskamp says that we need to sense God’s greatness and be moved to tears – moved to tears and laughter by who God is and what he has done for us. And it is in moments such as these that I feel closest to our Father, yet humbled by His grace.
And don’t get me started on Parenthood. I don’t think I watched a single episode without crying!
Kelly Johnson says
I’m glad I’m not the only one, Kim! I think I am getting even more tearful as I get older or maybe I just see God’s grace more often. 🙂
We are our mother’s children. My kids love to watch me to see when I cry. They actually made a bet on the Christmas Eve service for how many times I would cry. Not sure who won……and don’t care. When the Holy Spirit stops bringing me to tears…. I will be worried that I am not noticing Him in the beautiful (brutiful) ways He shows up!
Kelly Johnson says
Amen, sister!! Aren’t we lucky to get our tender hearts from our tender hearted mom? 🙂