Sometimes gifts from God are straightforward, like a beautiful sunset.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a gift that is, perhaps, less obvious—the ability to cry. I inherited my mother’s tender heart. We cry when we are sad, happy, overwhelmed, tired, touched or feeling any other sort of strong emotion.
Sometimes this is embarrassing, like when I’m seeing a movie with new friends. I look around and realize that I am the only one moved to tears by the “intensity” of the scene and silently scold myself. For heaven’s sake! You’re an adult! Keep it together.
But what I try to remember is that this tendency I have is really a gift. I’d always heard that the act of crying is actually a stress reliever, so I took the liberty of doing a little research. In Psychology Today, Dr. Judith Orloff reminds us that
“tears are [our] body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration…they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.”
How cool is that?
We can probably all think of times in our lives when tears were a blessing. While working toward my masters in social work, I had an internship at a big nonprofit doing refugee resettlement. I was assigned my own “case,” a precious Bhutanese family that I worked with throughout my time there.
When I met them, they had just arrived in the US. They had been living in a refugee camp for more than ten years in a hut with no electricity, barely enough food, and the constant threat of violence nearby. I can’t describe how amazing it was to watch them adjust to their new environment. Though they had little by our standards, they were filled with hope and excitement just to have a safe, clean place to live and the opportunity to work.
As my internship came to a close, I tried to think about how I was going to say goodbye. The oldest son spoke English fairly well, so I decided to write them a letter. I put off delivering it for as long as possible. I hate goodbyes. When I finally pulled up to their apartment complex and knocked on the door, the grandfather answered. The rest of the family was out. My heart jumped as I bowed in greeting to him. “Namaskar.” That was all the Nepali I knew. He beckoned me to sit, and my mind raced.
I couldn’t wait for them to return. My procrastination had put me in a difficult position.
As I sat there on the couch holding my letter, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I felt so deeply for this family. They had experienced so much suffering, and I was inspired by their sweet spirits. Tears started rolling down my cheeks, and then I couldn’t stop.
It was unprofessional, and it must have seemed strange to the elderly Bhutanese man sitting there next to me. Yet, somehow I think he understood. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Our eyes spoke to each other across the language barrier, and I left my letter on the coffee table feeling confident that he would know how to explain my visit to the family.
When my (now) husband visited my family for the first time, we were already making plans for him to move to Texas from his native Costa Rica. We said goodbye at the airport not knowing exactly when we would see each other again. I cried for the entirety of my 45 minute drive home. Tears poured out of me like a dam finally breaking, and I released all the emotions of the last few months.
I cried joyful tears because I found the ONE at last! I cried sorrowful tears as I remembered our goodbye. I ached already to be with him again. I cried tears of worry and fear as I wondered how God would work in this situation. What sacrifices and challenges would we face these next few months? Could we survive?
When I got home, my dad was alone in the kitchen. He comforted me as best he could, and then he asked me a question that no one had asked me yet. “Do you think…maybe…you love him?” Our relationship was still so new, and I had always been slow to open my heart, but I knew immediately that my answer was “yes”.
Sometimes our feelings are too powerful to express in words. Our tears say it all. Our joys and sorrows are freed through cathartic tears, and this is truly a gift from God.
By Kara B. Rodriguez, Spring is in the WorldLeave a Comment