I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along. — Psalm 40:1-2 TLB
As a child, I used to visit my grandparents’ home in the country, where they relied on a cistern to water their garden. The cistern was an artificial reservoir, a rock-like well beneath the ground for storing rainwater. When the autumn rains came, water rushed down the gutters on my grandparents’ home and filled the cistern. Then, during the spring, the water would release to nourish sprouting plants. By summer, my grandparents’ garden was green and lush, a result of the cistern’s life-giving water.
During some seasons in our journey through grief, our reservoir stores up tears, and during other seasons, those tears flow. When we release them, they wash away our anger, guilt, and unforgiveness and water our soul’s garden. We feel refreshed and relieved. The seeds of new beginnings and new possibilities begin to take root and emerge from our soul’s soil. Tears can nourish us and help us grow through our grief. Over time we may see a lush, green garden of hope, and our soul might bloom with the strength to press on — a result of God’s life-giving power through our tears.
Don’t deny yourself or others the opportunity to cry.
Too often well-meaning people pat a grieving person on the arm and say, “Oh, don’t cry. You’ll get through this.”
I used to say that to people. Was I uncaring or uncomfortable? No, I believed my words were encouraging. I didn’t understand how hurtful they were until I was the receiver of those “comforting” words after my son’s death.
Then I realized that storing up my tears wouldn’t remove my pain. It only added more emotional debris to my reservoir. I’ll never forget the sense of relief I felt when a friend said, “Weep with all your heart. Tears will water and grow your soul.” How comforting to have another person recognize that tears are a growing part of my journey through grief.
Maybe that’s why Jesus wept after Lazarus died and why Jesus never condemned others for crying, thereby giving us permission to cry as well. Like a cistern, at times our reservoir is full, and we need to release our tears. Give yourself permission to cry. Allow God’s power to use your tears to refresh you and transform your soul into a lush garden.
God, crying makes me feel weak and out of control. I don’t want others to feel uncomfortable or at a loss for words when I cry, but I do want to be strong again. I know that You wept when You lost loved ones and that You never condemned others for crying. Yet I struggle to give myself permission to cry. Reach down into the cistern of my soul and help me release my fears and tears to You. Wash away my anger, guilt, and unforgiveness. Transform me. Use my tears to water my emerging hopes. Grow my soul into a blooming garden. Amen.
Excerpted with permission from Grieving the Loss of a Loved One by Kathe Wunnenberg, copyright Kathe Wunnenberg.
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If you need to cry, my friend, don’t hold back. Don’t stuff it down. Allow yourself to grieve with Jesus and let Him comfort you. Even if your tears make others uncomfortable, they are precious to Him (Psalm 56:8). Come share your thoughts on the value of weeping with the Lord on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full