I am a self-proclaimed crier. I don’t know when it happened or if I have always been like this, but I find the older I get, the more emotional I get. I grew up thinking adults were not supposed to cry, so if that’s true then I am not good at being an adult (which is very possible).
I will cry at anything. When I’m happy, overwhelmed, when I get good news, when I worship, if someone else is crying, or when life is unfair. I am embarrassed to say I have even cried over characters on television shows because I tend to forget they are not real people in my life (thank you Grey’s Anatomy and Parenthood). However, the hardest I cry is when I have to say good-bye. When I left Haiti last year, I remember on my last day being quick to wipe my eyes and put on a brave face for the 67 children I had just spent 5 months with. Before I made my final good-byes, my friend pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget:
“It’s okay to cry, it shows you fully invested your whole heart in your time here and in these relationships.” That was all it took for the floodgates to open and not close for the next 24 hours.
It feels like our world today tells us crying is a sign of weakness, and I kindly disagree. Being vulnerable shows honesty, compassion, and simply put- it’s human. Why do I constantly try to fool everyone that I’m okay when I am not? Why is it that we are quick to believe sharing our hearts will only burden those around us? I found beautiful truth in these words from John 11:35,
There it is, the strongest, most perfect man to ever walk the earth wept. Jesus cried for his friends. He showed compassion on the hurting (Matthew 9:36). He got frustrated when the crowd didn’t understand his teachings, like a parent lovingly longs for his/her children to grasp incredible truths about them (Mark 7:17-18). He flipped tables in righteous anger when he saw hardened, selfish hearts (Matthew 21:12). He eagerly served those who should have been bowing in humility to him (John 13:1-17). Jesus was fully God, but also fully man. Being human means you can allow yourself to fully feel and fully experience.
I am still learning to treasure these moments of raw emotion. Rather than fight back, I try to welcome them. I have attempted being strong; I buried back feelings as I felt them rise in me. I thought it was weak to be emotional, or it would make people uncomfortable.
Goodness, I was so wrong. I found myself exhausted and misunderstood. It was draining because we were never meant to live life that way. We were created to live in Jesus, and that means living in freedom. Freedom to express ourselves knowing no matter how it is received, we are already fully loved and fully known by the only One who matters. If he has given us life of abundance, why live half-heartedly? There is no shame in sharing your heart with those around you, it only shows you are fully aware and invested in your life.
Jesus shows us there is beauty in revealing your vulnerability, to let yourself process and feel. If we were to live like this in a community of believers, it would be a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. Each day, our intent should be to live more like Jesus in this broken world. Being like Jesus means living with every piece of our being immersed in life and relationships as he did. In a world that could use more genuine hearts, I’m going to quit believing holding back is better for me and everyone around me. If I’m going to love, I will love as an offering of hope and joy, I will serve whole-heartedly, and I will speak with vulnerable truth. It is in these real moments that others see the heart of Jesus.
I fully believe Jesus longs to sit and cry with us, rejoice with us, even listen to our doubts and worries. He knows the depths of our hearts, so let us strive to grasp the freedom in that promise and live completely invested, fully present, and with our hearts wide open.
words by Lauren Grindstaff and photo by Hannah Jin