The other day I was flicking through a few YouTube videos and came across one that was highlighting the talent of a young man on the current season of American Idol. It was an excellent performance that actually caused one of the judges to cry. What stood out to me wasn’t his transparent emotion but the fact that he felt that he needed to apologise for his tears.
And this got me thinking – why do people often apologise when they cry? Is it because they feel embarrassed or is it maybe because they feel like they are making others feel uncomfortable? I can’t remember the last time I saw someone apologise for having a good time or someone saying sorry because they were so excited about a situation they didn’t know what to do with themselves. So why do we often feel as if we need to apologize for crying?
A psychologist by the name of Sheryl Paul answers this question in the following way:
“Well, it’s not a difficult question to answer. The vast majority of my clients — and the human population — grew up with the very clear message that crying wasn’t welcome or even tolerable. “Get over it” was the message that most kids were — and still are — raised with. Because if you’re a parent who hasn’t embraced your own pain, who still views pain through the lens of shame that you absorbed when you were a child, you can’t possibly create an environment in which your child feels safe to cry.”
Crying is a natural response to painful and difficult situations and we don’t need to apologise when we become so overwhelmed we don’t know what to do other than cry – there is no shame in this action. I must admit that the impending lockdown and all its ramifications has had me quite emotional. On Monday I was on the verge of tears because I was feeling so overwhelmed and I’m sure many of you may be feeling the same way.
But do you know that our God is so great that he doesn’t turn away when we cry? He doesn’t feel uncomfortable and tell us to stop – he welcomes our tears because he loves us and cares about how we are feeling. While David was in the custody of his enemies he wrote these words in Psalm 56:8; 10-11.
8 You yourself have recorded my misery
Put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid
We can find comfort in the fact that God remembers the pain we have gone through in this life – he doesn’t forget about a single tear we have shed. David was so confident in this fact that he used the imagery of God collecting every tear in a bottle and recording our pain in a book. And while there are still many tears for us to cry and many difficult situations to face in this life we can stand firm in the knowledge that there will come a day when tears from pain will no longer exist:
“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away,”