‘Why are you crying?’ A simple and seemingly harmless question sparks a moment of silence, attempts to respond and falling tears that replace the words we cannot speak. When the answer is too painful to voice, words are replaced by tears that refuse to be contained.
This is a response to trauma that has happened in life; one that is still deeply painful regardless of how much time has passed. The wound that occurred is still open, the pain hiding barely beneath the surface. Life forces us to go on even while the wound is incredibly painful. We imagine we have moved past the trauma and are doing fine now. Until some emotion taps into the pain allowing it to spill out and be expressed by trembling lips, silent words and finally tears that refuse to be controlled any longer.
Trauma results from personal loss, disillusion and events we have no control over, leaving us feeling helpless, even bereft of hope. Deeply painful events alter the course of life. Much as we wish we could return to the life we had before the event, nothing will ever be exactly the same. We cannot unlearn what we know or reverse things that are truly final.
Our response to the question, ‘Why are you crying’ is the end of a story, not the beginning. In the beginning those tears fell silently, maybe in the dark or in the shower when events overwhelm us and sorrow replaces hope and joy. Life is unalterably changed by the loss of a loved one, rejection or abuse by someone you trusted, loss of a relationship, job or health and a multitude of events that occur. Loss of anything that matters is traumatic and can leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed to emotions we are not prepared for.
This same emotional response happens when something wonderful enters our life; deep down we never imagined this could happen to us or that we could deserve what is happening. Even then, something from the past, tears that were shed from an earlier event lead to a tearful response to joy.
Why the tears? Tears are cleansing, it is a natural response that can wash away fear, rejection, pain or even losing someone or the death of a dream that really matters. It is natural to find a private place away from the prying eyes of others, away from their questions as the tears fall. We feel alone and the need to be alone. We hide in an effort to regain control, even while we know the tears are important. There must be a way to express emotions. And so God gave us tears, a way to release overwhelming emotion.
There is the sense of being alone when the tears stream down our faces. Strangely, tears bring hope, I wonder why? Alone with our guard down and tears freely falling is the best time to be still and know that someone bigger than you and I hears them falling and has already begun the process of pressing the broken pieces of our life back into place.
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