Disclaimer: In this blog post, I am sharing my thoughts on finding gratitude for the tears we cry. I realize that there are some who may cry in agony from deep hurt and pain of various kinds related to traumatic events in their life or the life of a loved one. In no way am I downplaying or making light of those situations. Nor am I encouraging those individuals to “find the silver lining.” Those circumstances which require counseling, therapy and/or other forms of treatment stand distinctly apart from the application that I am bringing today.
There are two categories of criers that I have observed. First we have the drop-of-the-hat cryers. They are ready, willing and able to cry at a moments notice. Coffee spills all over the the floor? Cry. Receives a back-handed compliment? Cry. Speeding ticket? Oh, for sure cry.
Then you have the bottlers. These are also known as the shower-criers. They will not cry in front of anyone because they cannot bear to let anyone see them break. You may see the steam. You may see the smoke. But they won’t let you see the tears.
But, inevitably, the pressure will keep mounting until one day someone forgets to do a menial task and…KABOOM! Crying, tears, wailing and flailing will be just some of the things you can expect.
I have to say that I used to be a bottler exclusively, but I’m finding myself dipping my toe into the drop-of-the-hat category from time to time. I’m just diversifying my crying portfolio.
I’m kidding. I don’t turn on the water works for no reason. In fact I don’t enjoy crying at all. I will go the extra mile to try to avoid it as much as possible. Chick flicks are not my jam. Movies about family pets dying? Nope. Not gonna happen. I have cried too many tears in real life to willingly watch a movie about a fake life all so that I can cry. No thanks.
But, as much as I try not to, I do cry occasionally.
Actually, I found myself crying a few nights ago. My sweet husband was listening to me as I explained how I was feeling about our upcoming homeschool year. As I unloaded my heart and asked for his opinion, he listened and then gave his advice. We had a great, encouraging conversation and as it ended I started cleaning up the books and curriculum I had laid out.
Right in that moment, with all the curriculum that we were looking at sprawled on the table, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He helped me to reposition my heart in gratitude for the tears I had just cried.
His message to me was simple and yet profound. Of all the things that I could have been crying about, my tears were related to the pressure of being a homeschool mom. From among hundreds of different reasons that could have caused me to cry that night, I was grateful to be crying those kinds of tears.
What about you? When was the last time you cried and why were you crying? Maybe it was a frustrating moment. Maybe you experienced physical pain. Whatever it was that led you to cry, I want to see if you can find a reason to be grateful to cry those kinds of tears.
I know from experience that it can be hard to find gratitude in a moment of pain, whether physical or emotional. In all honestly, gratitude is not the natural default position of my heart. Instead, having a grateful heart is something that, with God’s help, has to be intentionally cultivated over time.
I think about my kids. It is a parents job to make sure their kids know how and when to say thank you. Go to any birthday party and as gifts are being opened you can hear the mom or dad of the birthday kid saying, “What do you say?” The kid responds, “Thank you!”
Any good parent parent will train their child to be grateful for the good things that come to them. But no one ever trained us to be thankful for the good and the bad.
What our parents may have taught us about gratitude is only half the battle. And to be honest, it’s the easy part. We know how to be grateful for the good. Now enters the Holy Spirit’s work in our life. He leads us further into truth and into God’s will for our life. He reminds us that we are to be grateful not only for the good experiences, but also the bad experiences of life.
Give Thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in CHRIST JESUS.1 Thessalonians 5:18
I pray that the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 would be a reminder for us today. It is a reminder that we do not get to pick and choose where and when to be grateful. It’s easy for us to be grateful when we close on the new house or when we drive up in a new car. It’s easy to be thankful when we get a new job.
But as children of God, we are called to live by another standard. We are challenged to live on a different level of gratitude. We are called on to maintain our gratitude at all times and in all things.
How is it possible? Where does one even start to be grateful in the middle of hardship?
Perhaps you had an argument or frustrating situation with a friend or with your spouse. Thoughts, emotions and even tears will flow when we are zoomed in on the issues of life. We tend to focus with microscope intensity at the problem in front of us.
Here is where we can start to cultivate gratitude. Zoom out a little bit. Look at the broader picture. Yes, relationships can be hard. Yes, arguments will happen. But in the grand scheme of things, we can be grateful to have friends. Taking a look at the bigger picture, we can be thankful to even have a spouse at all.
It could be that you have experienced a recent loss. Loss in any capacity is a hard blow to be dealt. In that moment of loss, how can we find gratitude?
I want to offer this perspective. In order for you to feel loss, you first had to have something. In order to be filled with grief in someones’ absence, you first had to be filled with joy in their presence. Tears of loss are a symbol that someone was deeply meaningful and that they impacted your life in a powerful way. Right there is a reason to be grateful.
When we stand back and really contemplate the reason for our tears, I am confident that we will find a reason to be thankful.
It is my hope that you and I can be more aware of instances where we can exercise our gratitude and cause it to grow. Being thankful only in the good times is for the weak. Being grateful in all things is for the strong.
My prayer for you is that you would dig deep, push through and even in tears, find your gratitude.