A story is told of a young girl who arrived home from a visit with a friend. Her mother had expected her earlier, and when questioned why she was late, the young girl replied: “My friend’s doll was broken.” Her mother asked if she had helped her friend fix it. “No,” she said, “I helped her cry.”
In my mind’s eye, I envision two small girls wrapped in a hug with tears filling their eyes. One is holding a much loved, but broken, doll in her hands and the other is sharing in her sorrow. What a poignant picture of friendship.
Romans 15:1 tells us “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” (The Message)
A “listener” or a “fixer?”
I have observed that God seems to have hardwired each of us in one of two ways…we are either a listener or we are a fixer. That is not to say a “listener” cannot, at times, be a “fixer” or the other way around, but we seem to have a predominant way of reaching out in a time of crisis. One is not better than the other but both should be seen as gifts to be shared in love and support.
I, myself, am a “fixer.” I want to make things better. My years as a preschool teacher are a testament to that personality trait. Kissing “boo-boo’s” and chasing away fears were a natural part of that job for me. Young children need to know that someone is there to fix “it” (whatever “it” may be) for them.
But, as adults, we don’t always want advice on how to make things better in our lives. Maybe we just want to have someone help us cry. Someone to let us share what is on our hearts without feeling the need to offer advice or a solution or to give a pat answer such as “it will be okay.” I may be a fixer when reaching out to someone in crisis, but when I need emotional support, I want a listener to come by my side and to help me cry [and of course, I was married to a fixer for 41 years! He always wanted to give me advice on what I should do when all I craved was to have him listen to me. Maybe that irritation I felt was God’s way of telling me that I needed to be more of a listener at times.]
Why do we cry?
In Romans 12:15 we read “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (NIV) True friendship is more than just the good times…the parties, the coffee dates, the laughs. It is standing by someone when times are tough. When their world seems to be crumbling around them. When all they can do is cry.
“Have you ever thought about the reason we cry? Why would God create a physical act to coincide with our emotional feelings? One reason may be for the social aspect it provides. Think about how difficult pain is when you are alone in it. Tears communicate to others your need for support and love. So in one way, God’s designing of tears was actually a design born from His care for us. That tears would symbolize “I’m hurting” to those near us. If they communicate our pain to those around us, how much more to God?” (https://www.weaponsofgrace.com/content/when-the-storm-comes-god-sees-your-tears)
Medical professionals actually tout the physical benefits of crying. Research shows that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. After all, who doesn’t feel better after a good cry??? Allowing someone to see you cry and to step alongside you can be a blessing to you both. It creates a connection with a friend that might not be forged otherwise.
…”A time to be silent and a time to speak…”
I am reminded of the words found in Ecclesiastes 3:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
My prayer for you is two-fold—that you will allow yourself to cry those healing and holy tears, and that you will be open to God’s voice when He calls you to help someone cry.