I am not really a fan of crying. I have never thought of myself as a crier. Some women seem to be constantly overflowing with tears, as if they have leaky tear-faucets that can't be turned off. I am not that way. Unfortunately, I can't stop myself some times.
There are lots of reasons to cry. My husband says that I actually need to cry once in a while. He is right (much as I hate to admit it!)I always feel better after a good cry. For me, crying is a great way to release stress.
Tears are often compared to the rain. Rain brings nourishment and renewal. It washes away air pollutants and cools the heat of day. Tears can have the same effect on our spirits. Crying, for me anyway, can cool my anger, wash away my stress, and leave me feeling refreshed and ready to get back to the fight of life.
As I said, I don't like to cry. I try not to. Sometimes that makes it worse when the tears come. At that same time, I find myself advocating the shedding of tears. I was recently talking to someone about Primary and she said "I don't want to cry in front of the kids." I thought "Why not?" It is part of life. We can't protect them from everything. and there are worse things than seeing someone cry.
I admit, my kids don't always understand why I am crying. Years ago I decided to read some classic children's books to my son during his "nap" time. I chose "Heidi" because I had never actually read it before. I bawled my eyes out!! My son kept asking me what was wrong and getting out of bed to hug me. I tried to explain to him that there are many reasons to cry, not just because we are sad. He didn't really understand. After a few days of that, he said "I don't like that book, Mommy." I felt bad for upsetting him but I was so glad I read it.
The past several months I have been serving in the Primary of our ward. I haven't cried much but I have a few times. The kids always look so concerned. I have been a little torn about it. I really can't always help it. I mean, when the Spirit moves you...well, I just hope they felt it too.
I have been reminded of an experience I had many years ago. A friend of mine invited me to attend a missionary farewell with her in Payson, Utah. I didn't know the young man or his family. During the meeting his mother spoke. She was crying a little and shared a tip with the congregation. She said "Don't fight the tears. Just let them come. You know they will find a way out anyway and fighting it just makes it worse." I think about that when I feel that sudden stinging in my eyes during a lesson. I still fight it sometimes. But she was right. There is nothing wrong with crying so why do we try so hard not to do it?
Crying shows our vulnerability. It reveals our humanity. When we see a person cry, we see past their tough shell to their more tender feelings. A clown is suddenly serious. A jerk becomes sensitive. A nerd becomes profound. I know there are people who use tears to manipulate and deceive. That isn't what I mean. You know the difference. Real crying has a way of connecting people that nothing else can.
Maybe the difference is how we respond to those tears. Do we cry with them? Alma taught that we should be "willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;...willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort..." (Mosiah 18:8-9)I believe that when we have this kind of love in our hearts we are connected in special ways.
When I was a teenager, my dad gave a talk in church about going the extra mile and serving others. He got choked up as he told this story. A king with no heir decided to hold a race. Anyone in the kingdom could participate and the winner would inherit the kingdom. Hundreds turned out for the race. Along the route was a huge pile of rocks. The racers pushed and shoved to get around it. One man stopped and began moving the stones. He worked all day. When he reached the bottom of the pile, there was a bag of gold. The king came and told him he had won and would inherit everything because he had been willing to make a the extra effort for others.
I had never seen my dad cry before. Ever. I was so touched by that moment. It has made an immeasurable impact on my life choices. I had heard the story before. It wasn't the story that made the difference. It was the tears. I knew that a message powerful enough to bring my father to tears was worth listening to.
So let the tears flow! Don't fight the Spirit when it turns on that flow. Sometimes it is the catalyst to touching hearts.