“I don’t want to be the girl who falls apart and cries in Church all the time. I’ve done that for too long and I don’t want to go through it all again.”
“You’re not that girl, you’re a woman. You’re a wife and you’re no one less today in tears than you were last week laughing. This is your ministry and it’s your thorn. Your tears, where you feel weakest that’s what helps you to do your job.”
My wise friend was oh so annoyingly right. My pain, the tears that fall when remembering, they are the reason I do my job, and I wonder whether I’d be able to do it at all, if I didn’t still feel the tears fall?
If there was no history to grieve, there would not be a drive to see change.
If there were no memories to face, there would not be the soft and bruised parts of my heart.
So often tears are seen as the ultimate sign of weakness. They conjure images of weeping willows and Victorian ladies overcome with the vapours.
It was through tears that Israel lamented their exile, it was through tears that Jesus grieved over his city and it was through the tears of Mary that the Risen Lord first appeared.
And the shortest verse in the Bible contains just two words: Jesus Wept.
There is something startling to me, even now, many years after I first read the verse. The King of Heaven and Earth shedding tears. It’s such a beautiful picture of Jesus’ love.
“The world’s certainty that the ultimate reality is death breaks Jesus’ heart. The world’s (and the Church’s) anguish in the experience of death breaks Jesus’ heart.”
Hearts don’t break over things they don’t love, and Jesus’ tears were not only for his friend, but for his creation in all their frailty and brokenness.
And I can’t help but think that if Jesus is okay with tears – we can be too.
However, a recent report in the Guardian claims that 18-34 year olds are even more likely to feel like crying is a sign of weakness.
For me, the tears of Jesus are one of the most powerful answers to the problem of pain. We aren’t abandoned by Him in our tears, but comforted. One of my favourite writers Nicholas Wolterstorff writes: “Through our tears we see the tears of God.”
Our tears are so often a sign of our love – because they so often fall in the face of loss. Tears can be a sign that we are walking alongside someone else in their pain – as Paul writes in Romans “Weep with those who weep”.
So perhaps, next time I find the tears falling I will be reminded of the tears of our saviour and the words of Potamius of Lison:
“God wept, moved by the tears of mortals”