For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Tears have many purposes and fulfill their purposes in countless different circumstances. They mysteriously express for us the overflow of our hearts and somehow relieve pressure that has built up inside, whether gradual or sudden.
Saturday I was privileged to participate in the Race for the Cure again, this time walking with a new friend who is a new survivor. Being a part of that day is always really interesting and often moving. There are so many stories represented by the people walking. Some are celebrating, some are mourning, some are rejoicing over beating the disease, some are proudly walking in memory of someone they loved who bravely fought but succumbed. Many of them pin papers to the backs of their shirts that express their reason for walking: “I walk in celebration of my mom, a 10 year survivor” or “I celebrate life” or “I walk in memory of my sister” and so on with hundreds of different messages and reasons. One said “I celebrate ME.” Glad to be alive, we are, all of us wearing those pink t-shirts. This day always serves as a reminder of how blessed we are and always fills me with gratitude to God. Tears filled my eyes as I silently spoke to God in my heart, “Thank you, God! Thank you for sparing me and allowing me to live.” Then there are questions that sometimes come, too, “Why was I so blessed to live?” I don’t want to take one day for granted.
During an inspirational song at the beginning of the day, I saw several survivors smiling and wiping tears away. I saw a young woman holding an older woman in a pink shirt in a snug embrace, her eyes tightly closed with tears rolling down her cheeks. She obviously was so glad that older woman was still alive. We saw a young man carrying his daughter, with son walking beside him, a sign on his back that said “Walking in memory of my wife. WE MISS YOU.” My eyes teared up again at that thought. When I got my diagnosis that was one of the very first fears I faced, “What if John has to raise our girls the rest of their lives without me? What if I don’t get to be a part of all of that?” How hard it must be for that daddy.
I called a friend of mine back in Indiana who has survived and had to leave a message. I was surprised at the tears that swelled up quickly as I tried to tell her how thankful I was she lived. Emotion seemed to be right at the surface of my heart all morning.
God gave tears a noble, multi-faceted purpose. There is a time for them – sometimes in anger, sometimes in hurt or loneliness. Sometimes joy is so powerful it can only be expressed by crying. For some reason, letting the tears come helps. There are those times when we realize how lost we are without Jesus, like that woman who approached Jesus, so sorry for her sins that she wept and actually washed his feet with her tears. It’s as if they stream over the emotion that brought them on and leave us feeling cleansed, a little less burdened, even refreshed.
I believe God notices each one. I’m thankful for the way He created us, even if so much of it is a huge mystery. I don’t know why he created us with the ability to cry salty tears from our eyes. I don’t know how crying becomes an emotional and often times spiritual experience, but it does.
There’s a time for laughing, for celebrating, for dancing, for watching, for waiting, for speaking and for being silent. A time for singing and a time to listen. A time to act and a time to be still. There’s a time for embracing, for being alone, for being born and for going home to heaven.
I’m thankful for it all, and that there is a time for tears.