I’m an expert at crying in Starbucks. I don’t know if it is the Norah Jones, or the Frank Sinatra that they play. Perhaps it’s the way I feel when I drink Christmas Blend or maybe the way the baristas at the one in Richmond have personally guaranteed the perfection of each cup. Either way, it seems that if I am going to cry it usually happens near a Starbucks.
The more I think about it though; it’s not just Starbucks. I’ve cried in Starbucks, at church, at all of my friend’s houses, in Chick-fila, at the mall, at Buffalo Wild Wings, driving, walking, singing, you get the picture.
I’ve always been a sensitive person, and I’ve always been ashamed of it. I’ve apologized countless times for crying in front of people. I’ve made jokes at my own expense saying “I’m just crazy” or “I’m an emotional mess.” I’ve tried to come up with weird excuses for my puffy eyes when I arrive somewhere. (I can’t blame it on allergies because I don’t have any. The Flight of the Conchords have a few good ones though in this song. Seriously listen to it. It’s hilarious)
I’ve always equated feeling deeply with weakness. Somewhere along the line I got this image of an emotional, crazy woman in my head and decided I never wanted to be her. I don’t want people to think I’m “that” girl. I decided that in order to be a smart, strong woman, then I surely needed to kill the deep emotional side of me.
It may sound a bit extreme to say, but when did you last hear of a person praising someone’s character because they felt deeply? Sure, they may speak well, they may be a strong leader, but what about someone who is easily moved? It doesn’t seem to be a quality that is praised in our culture, and certainly isn’t something that is seen as an admirable trait.
The sentimentalism of Hallmark cards, lifetime movies, and clichés have tainted the beauty of feeling deeply. Instead, we are left with a caricature of a weepy woman, and have forsaken the woman who is free to feel and beautifully vulnerable.
I think most of my life I have confused being emotional with living by emotionalism. God created me to be emotional. The –ism part is when I allow my emotions to govern me. Emotionalism is living by my feelings. Now, I am the first to agree (and could tell you first hand) that living by your whims and feelings is a dangerous way to live. Emotionalism is a prison. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Emotions can be good, right, and beautiful.
God created me to be an emotional woman, and it was good.
It is good to cry when I hear a children’s choir or see kids dancing. Why do I cry? Mostly because it reminds me of how the new heavens and the new earth will be, a wonderfully free place, where we will all (with the freedom of children) sing joyfully to our God and dance freely before him.
It’s right to cry over a strained relationship. The world is broken and God is the Lord of reconciliation. I’m thankful that he grants us humility to confess sin, and grace to give others that have sinned against us.
It is good to cry when listening to beautiful music. The beauty of music points to the beauty of our Creator.
It is good to mourn with others losses, the death of a family member or another deep tragedy. Christ mourned with his friends, and I am thankful that he created me so that I can sympathize with others.
It is okay to cry when we’ve been hurt. God came to restore brokenness. Sin is so grievous that Jesus had to die for it. Our tears are appropriate.
It’s good to cry with joy about my child. His life is beautiful. I love his smiles. They are a gift. He is a blessing to me.
It is good to cry when I hear about people being adopted. Adoption stories make me cry every time. Not only am I thankful that new children have a home, but it also reminds me of how each Christian is adopted into God’s kingdom.
It is good to be moved to compassion because of the suffering of the world. Poverty is horrible. Hunger is too. Jesus came to make these broken things right, and so should we. Feeling and seeing people as Jesus does is the first step in doing so.
Over and over in the gospels it says that Jesus had compassion on the crowds of people. Jesus felt deeply. If Jesus felt deeply, then surely he didn’t make a mistake when he made me to feel deeply.
I pray that I will continue to be moved by the things that move God, that I won’t be prone to emotionalism, but that I won’t be ashamed of my feelings. I want to celebrate how God has created me (and so many others that I know) to feel deeply and in doing so, be wonderfully vulnerable.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” -C.S. Lewis