Monday, February 22, 2016

The Miracle of Tears

A single tear rolled down her cheek. A few more splashed out of her beautiful eyes and began to furrow into a steady stream down her young face. The next time I glanced her direction, she was full out weeping ––in silence.

It was beautiful and hard, but a young woman gave herself permission to release the pain she had long suppressed.

Praise God.

The woman who sat next to her quietly patted the girls back, occasionally handing her a new tissue, as if she understood the work of releasing the tears. The need for it, without interruption and without someone trying to fix a thing.

Her tears told a story of unspeakable pain and honest regret. Like a voiceless lament releasing the agony of her soul.

Tears are wordless truth-tellers of the deeper places.

It's an interesting fact that in our world, only humans can cry.

An article, written over two decades ago, stated that biochemist William Frey spent 15 years, as head of a research team, studying ––tears.

Think about that. Every day. Go to work. Study tears.

It's always interesting to me when science can devote that kind of time to a single aspect of the human body and not completely unearth the depths of its mysteries. We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made.

In the beginning of his study, it was believed that the tear duct was leftover from evolution and no longer necessary. What was revealed is that the tear production organs, as well as the tears themselves, are extremely complex and important. It's more than a happy coincidence that science confirmed, each teardrop is a miracle on many levels.

They found that tears are some of the most antibacterial and antiviral agents known. These beads of moisture make it possible for us to see by keeping our eyes hydrated and protected, but there is more.

William Frey found that stress-induced tears actually remove toxic ‘substances’ from the body and there is a long list of them. His research found that crying removes toxins that normally build up during emotional stress. Plus, his studies uncovered that suppressing tears actually increases stress levels and, therefore, toxins.

Isn't our natural inclination to fight back the tears?

Don't we all try to be strong and brave because we've been taught that real men and big girls don't cry?

What if tears are the oil that lubricates small hinges to swing open the gate of healing and faith?

Luke unfolds a story that is perhaps my very favorite. The host was an important man. Jesus was his invited guest. And there was an unnamed woman. All we know of her is that she had lived a sinful life.   She had begun to weep. Perhaps her tears made furrows in the dust that covered His feet.  She could not have planned to be such a crying mess. Thank goodness she just let herself be undone and it is recorded for our benefit. Her tears began to cleanse the shame from her soul as well as the dust from His feet. She came weeping and repentant. And Jesus made it known that she was going to walk away a new woman.

What if another broken seeker allows the first tear to become a path beyond what has held them down for too long? What if a single tear could be the beginning of some real healing?

2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

In this world, we are all too well-acquainted and surrounded by sorrow and grief. And tears could be the cleansing agents of grace we need in all of it.

In my own life, I can see how  ––even though reluctantly––  tears have been part of the paving material on the path of my own deep restoration.

It was through angry, frightened tears that I took my first steps as a single mom.

Through a veil of erupting tears in the dark of another long night, I first cried out to God to meet me where I was and change me from the inside out.

Tears of anger softened the hard ground of my heart. Eventually, tears watered the seeds of faith and swung open the gate to freedom and peace.

Even today, rogue tears turn into an unexpected act of worship that fall like pearls doing a deeper cleansing in my messy soul.

Don't listen to the world that says to numb the pain, keep the stiff upper lip, so you can't feel anything. Tears can be a healing gift.

In her book, A Million Little Ways, Emily Freeman says to, "pay attention to what makes you cry." She points out,  "....our tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message – Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design. Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you those things that make you come alive.Where there are tears there is more than pain…there in lies the places that will speak to your deepest brokenness and passion."

I've put this to the test and repeatedly my tears have told me much about who I am. The things that break my heart are often the things that break God's heart.  

Women who need to know the love of Jesus send me into unplanned emotional tears. I've been that girl who tried to be tough. I've been that woman who wasn't invited. And I've been the one who entertained lies in her head too long.

But now my passion runs deep for others to know the One who wept.

Watching the young woman weep was uncomfortable. I wanted to help make it all better. Often, I'm not good at knowing when to speak and when to be silent.

But maybe.

Maybe that day her tears were a quiet unbinding of the things that have kept her restrained.

And maybe the weeping was a part of the releasing what she has known, so she could step into what God longs to give her.

I wonder, what makes you cry?


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© Rhonda Quaney