I felt it all day. The lump in my throat just sat there. Every time I thought about meeting with my mentor, my eyes started to water. I pushed the tears back, saving them for later.
When I sat down in her chair that afternoon, the tears flowed like a river. I let go of all of the feelings I had been holding back.
There are times when I feel completely free to cry, like that one. When I know I’m with someone I trust and I’m not concerned about a negative reaction to my crying, it feels safe to let it out.
But there are other times when I hold back – or at least attempt to.
A few weeks ago, I turned around to introduce myself to the couple sitting behind me at church. Soon they connected me to my husband and daughter, who they had previously met. The man shared some beautiful and powerful words about my daughter–words that touched my soul in a deep way. And my eyes welled up with tears and spilled down my cheeks.
There I was, in front of people I just met, crying.
A few days later, I was on a business conference call with several other women. We were all sharing about our businesses and discussing various challenges and successes. One of the gals began sharing something positive, but she was crying. I felt myself holding back, feeling silly for crying just because someone else was. But soon, several others were crying as well, and I knew I wasn’t alone.
ARE YOU FREE TO CRY?
At the start of the year, I chose my word for the year: FREEDOM. So over the coming months, I’m going to write about my journey learning to lean into freedom, and some of the ways I’m experiencing it.
So the first freedom I’m claiming is this: I am free to cry.
I tend to cry a lot. I’ve had a running joke lately with my husband and some friends that I’m going to start a hashtag called #mycryfacedlife. If you grew up in the ‘90s, you might remember the show “My So Called Life.” So I thought I’d start something for those of us who cry a lot: My Cry Faced Life. (Anyone with me?)
I’ve always been sensitive, and I can sometimes cry at the silliest things. But, there’s a tendency for me–and maybe for you, too–to try and hold back those tears. Because crying is somehow seen as weakness or a flaw in some way.
I’ve decided that I am going to allow myself shed tears when I feel the need. Instead of being embarrassed or upset that I tend to cry a lot, I’m going to embrace that part of my makeup and be free to cry.
And guess what? I think you should, too. There is plenty of research pointing to the health benefits of crying. For the most part, it’s good for us–as long as we are not with people or in a situation that would make us feel worse for crying.
Plus, I believe that it’s Biblical. There are numerous examples of powerful characters in the Bible crying–even weeping. Joseph wept multiple times when he was reunited with his brothers after they sold him into slavery. David refers to crying over and over throughout the Psalms. And Jesus wept after his friend Lazarus died.
It’s clear that God designed us with the ability to cry for a reason. And I think it’s time we embrace this – not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of strength. Being vulnerable enough to cry in front of others takes guts.