"Don't cry. You're a big boy now."
Growing up in the 60s and 70s I can clearly recall the admonishment to wipe away my tears and 'be a big boy'.
OK, so I was a teary child.
My school reports from junior school note that I was a 'sensitive child'. When emotions ran high, tears would flow. My eyes are still likely to well up in response to a song or a TV drama. I also find that my eyes water in worship and in prayer.
I used to be embarrassed by this readiness to cry (it wasn't appropriate when I was a police constable!), but now in my 50s, I worry less about what others may think and focus more on what my emotional response is telling me.
It may simply indicate that I'm emotionally or physically over-stretched and that I need some down time. It might be an appropriate empathetic reaction to the story of a fellow human being. It can be a response to the compassion shown by a friend.
Or it may be the wholly appropriate reflex when I'm overwhelmed by God's presence.
Tears are good. They are a communicator, they are an indicator, a release.
There's a physiological reason why we feel better after 'a good cry'. Tears release stress and kill pain. They are also natural eye drops and they contain antibacterials.
(Excess tears can also flood the drainage ducts that lead into the nasal passage, hence the runny nose when you're crying.)
I now embrace that emotional side of me and I value those I meet who feel the same, especially if they are grown men. Jesus wasn't afraid to weep in public (see Luke 19:41 and John 11:35) and neither should we be.
This poem is to all you grown men out there who aren't afraid to weep.
Love you, mate.
Love your contagious tears
As they breach your ducts,
And gloss your cheeks,
Running free and reaching down
Past the lump in your throat
to your vulnerable heart.
Love you, mate.
Love your resistance to temptation
To back hand compassion,
Instead emoting with no hesitation,
To tell the world
That no-one's too big to weep.
If you are quick to tears, don't be embarrassed. It's just part of being human.
And you'll find that your tears are not out of place at Redeemer on a Sunday morning at Ealing town hall. Feel free to join us from 10:30am.