I have a tendency to be too hard on myself, especially when it comes to my faith. I’ve thought that if I’m a good Christian, I shouldn’t get sad and certainly not cry. I saw both as signs of spiritual weakness. After all, God is in control and taking care of me. I need to just “buck up.” Right?
Then I had lunch with a friend who’s a retired Episcopalian priest. He told me of a dark period where every night, he would wail to the Great I Am because his life seemed pointless.
A priest would cry out of hopelessness?
The shock must’ve been evident on my face. That’s when he told me about the shortest verse in the Bible.
John 11:35: “Jesus wept.”
Of course, I’d read that passage over the years, but it’d never sunk in. It takes place just after Jesus arrived at the city where his friend Lazarus had recently died. Lazarus’ friends and family were distraught and the Son of God’s reaction was to sob.
Why would God in human form cry when he knew he was going to raise Lazarus up and give him life again?
He could’ve been strong for the others. Instead, being touched so deeply by the love for Lazarus that his friends and family demonstrated, he joined them. He wept because he felt the agony around him. In his act of crying, he bared his humanity.
While we need to hold our lives together and search for the good in everything, there is a time to let go. To weep. To purge. To release all the frustrations, pain and sorrow from our being. To immerse ourselves in the darkness and feel its isolation so we can recognize there is a glimmer of light to guide us forward.
Acknowledging our low points can help us get through them more quickly
In Illuminata, Marianne Williamson wrote that we should not mentally resist the dark times of our lives. “When faced with pain, we are tempted to look the other way. The key to victory is to look it in the eye,” Williamson said.
Science recognizes the benefits of crying
Psychology Today, in a story written by Dr. Judith Orloff, reported that biochemist Dr. William Frey found that emotional tears excrete stress hormones and other toxins which accumulate during challenging times. Crying can also stimulate endorphins, a natural pain killer.
Scientific American noted that by experiencing and accepting anger and sadness, we can maintain better emotional health. Suppressing negative thoughts can diminish our sense of contentment, the author Tori Rodriguez wrote.
As with everything in life, we must seek balance. We must be authentic to ourselves. We can’t wallow in the mud of desperation, but a dip into the depths now and then can be cleansing without reducing the strength of our faith.