What My Tears Have Taught Me

Over the past year I’ve been on what I’ve been calling a journey of healing and freedom.  One of the areas that I’ve been growing in is my ability / willingness to cry.


To some, that may sound a little strange.  Why would you WANT to cry?  Doesn’t that mean something bad, sad, or some other “negative” emotion is happening?  What good comes from crying?


Let me tell you… a LOT of good has come from my crying.  I have learned so much… SO MUCH… from my tears.  I feel like my eyes have been opened up to a completely new world now that I understand my tears can teach me something.


Every time I would cry in my counseling sessions last year, my counselor would pause to investigate.  What are you feeling?  What does that bring up for you?  What kind of tears are those?  Why do you think you are crying?  Does it feel good to cry, or is this hard?  What do you think triggered those tears?  Why are you crying about this now, but you didn’t cry about this last week?  What is different?


What she did was teach me that my tears can tell me something about myself.  My tears can teach.  My tears can provide clarity.  My tears can speak in ways that sometimes words can’t.


Coincidentally enough, my good friend (I wish) Donald Miller over on the Storyline Blog posted this fantastic post titled A Surprising Way to Discover the Secret of Who You Are.


He opens the post with this great quote that I just needed to steal for my own post:


Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if you soul is to be saved, you should go next.

Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark

What I discovered in counseling is that God made me.  Of course, I knew this before… but a completely new revelation to me was that God purposely wove into me sensitive spots.  Things that would respond.  Things that would hurt.  Things that would yearn.  Things that would empathize.  Things that would ache.  Things that would question.  Things that would carry weight.


Things that would cause tears.


And not only that, but God gave us feelings and emotions.  God, the CREATOR, decided that emotions… the full spectrum of emotions… were important pieces to us being human.  He didn’t create anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness, sorrow, grief, pain, hurt, and all of those other emotions that get a bad reputation just to give us something to avoid.  No… God gave us a tool.  A sometimes difficult tool, but a tool that could reveal and teach and refine and release.


If you start to pay attention to where your tears are coming from, your eyes will be opened up to so many things about yourself.  The beauty of this is that once we understand ourselves better, we can better understand how we interact with God, man, and life.  Don’t we all want to make just a little bit more sense out of life some days?  Well… oddly enough… tears can be very eye-opening.


I’ve spent some time reflecting this week on what exactly I’ve learned from my tears.  A “study of myself” if you will.  Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:


    • I am human.  Well duh, Megan.  No really… I had to relearn that I am not, in fact, capable of being anything other than human… and that means all of the emotions and feelings that come with it.  I do get angry.  I do feel sadness.  I sometimes want to punch the punching bag a little bit harder.  I do get hurt.  I have felt pain.  Some moments in life don’t have a “positive outlook” angle.  And you know what?  THAT’S OK.  I was getting tired of the phrase that “everything happens for a reason” anyways.  That phrase has never helped anyone, ever, feel better in life.  Sometimes life gets messy, and I’m learning to embrace the messy and do a better job of learning from it in the process.  These difficult emotions are all a part of the human experience, and yet I somehow was mentally blocking myself from acknowledging and accepting that.  As a result, I was blocking myself from fully understanding how God created me and what it means to be his creation.


    • I care deeply.  This is the one area that I have occasionally over the years been able to see this through my tears.  In times of prayer, in times of worship, in times of counseling…. I’ve seen just how deeply I care about others.  God has gifted me with the gift of empathy, and it allows me to enter into other people’s stories in a deeper way.  There have been specific times in my life where I have even been surprised at how much I’ve felt on behalf of someone else, and it has been those tears that have revealed the people I care about.  Tears are a door to my heart, and rooted in me is a desire to fight and care for others.


    • …But sometimes I don’t care enough for myself.  Tears of exhaustion, tears of uncertainty, tears of being drained…. I’ve learned that I am not the best at self-care!  “Boundaries” has become a new word in my vocabulary and one of my favorite ones!  I’ve had to take a step back and start recognizing those activities which drain life and those which give life.  I’ve learned that saying “no” to the unnecessary commitments (no matter how wonderful and good and Jesus-honoring) and fighting against a life a busyness actually pays off in huge ways.  I’ve also started (probably overusing) the phrase “introvert time” because it’s typically my favorite time of any given day or week…. but man, has it made a difference in my soul.  When the tears come from exhaustion, I know I’ve neglected my own needs and need to reevaluate my schedule.  Seriously life-changing stuff you guys!


      • I’ve experienced pain.  I’ve officially given myself permission to own it, to name it, to learn about what it’s done to me, to take steps towards healing…. and to no longer let it rule over me as an unspoken, hovering weight over me.  I’m giving myself permission to TELL people about my pain and even cry while saying it, knowing that their reaction is their own choice, but that I am better in the process because I am allowing myself to release the fears of what people might think and step into greater authenticity.  There is a specific pain from my past that has had such a tight grip on me for 9 years, and it’s because I’ve believed the lie that I needed to be strong, to ignore the hurt, to muster up the courage to get through it, and that nobody would understand… and therefore nobody would care… enough to actually walk beside me as I wrestle with these things.  LIES LIES LIES!  My community has loved on me so faithfully and carefully and tenderly and patiently and passionately this past year.  The more I’ve been real with people about where I sit in the midst of this pain, the more understood I’ve been.  I’ve been met in the hard place, and seen God’s strength pick me up so lovingly and carry me to those who will show me love and safety and grace and empathy.  My tears have been honest to what I’ve been through.  My tears have acknowledged and mourned those hurts, and my tears have shown hope for what’s to come.


I’m sure I could write so many other examples of what tears have taught me, but I guess what I’m getting at is that we need to stop pretending we’ve got it all together.  There is something incredibly beautiful about people who are willing to step into the difficult emotions and wrestle around in the mud a little bit with them. We may get a little dirty, but we’ll come out more refined in the end.  (I’ve heard that mud baths are incredibly good for removing impurities.  Does this analogy work???)


The next time you feel yourself holding back tears, tearing up, or full-on sobbing your eyes out… take a moment to ask yourself a few questions about those tears.  Engage in the moment, engage in the emotion.  There’s a lot we can learn about God and ourselves when we start to dig a little deeper.


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About Megan Sauder

A musician with a passion for creativity, adventure, traveling, and cherishing even the simplest of moments.
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