You may have been to a women’s event to hear me speak, and you might have been at the session where I have what I call the Pre-emptive Kleenex. It is a session when I share about the death of my brother Steve, a topic that is still tender years after his passing, and will likely be tender forever- or at least until we meet again.
And at the beginning of the session, I hold it up and I give everyone a warning: ‘Ladies, this is my Pre-emptive Kleenex. I put it here so that maybe I won’t need it. But I want to warn you that I might need it because I am a crier.’ (Then I ask if there are any other criers in the room, and half the hands go up and we have a moment of laughter and solidarity for the Sisterhood of the Kleenex and that those in the Sisterhood never let a sister cry alone!) I go on to explain that I used to think that tears were a sign of weakness, and that I was a crier that grew up in a family of non-criers, and it was hard to be the weak one.
It was when I was engaged to the strongest man that I know that I changed my mind about tears. One time he was describing something about his father to me- his father who he had lost when he was just a young boy. As he spoke tears began to roll slowly down his cheeks. He apologized and wiped them away, but in that moment, I had a realization. His tears were not weak. His tears were a tribute. The memory of his father was worthy of those tears. And my tears did not make me weak, either.
I cry because I am sad, because I am happy, because I love, because I am stubborn, because I am proud of my kids, because I witness something truly beautiful, and a lot of other reasons. But I don’t cry because I am weak. I cry because something is important enough to be worthy of my tears. I cry because something matters.
And so now when I am speaking, I hold up the Kleenex, prep everyone (mostly myself) that it may be coming, and then I don’t worry about the tears. All those tears say is that I love my brother. And I know he is worthy of those tears. I go on with the business of speaking from God’s word, which includes such beautiful nuggets as:
John 11:35 Jesus wept.
Psalm 56:8 You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.
Ps 126:5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
And finally, this lovely promise from Revelation 21:4- He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
You see, God understands the truth about tears, too.