Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life Is a Pressure Cooker - Part Two

Life is full of pressures - family pressure, social pressure, job pressure, financial pressure, and on and on it goes.  When these pressures build up in our lives, as they surely will in every life sooner or later, God has designed some very healthy "safety valves" for venting (or blowing off a little steam) similar to those on the pressure cooker.  One of those safety valves is tears.

For most of his life, my father was not a believer.  When I was six years old, he derided me for crying about something, and he did so in a particularly caustic manner in front of others.  I was so impacted by his unkind words that for the rest of my growing up years, I almost never cried.  I could go for years on end and never cry - neither publicly nor privately.  When he walked me down the aisle as a bride of barely eighteen, he had tears rolling down both cheeks, but I did not shed a single tear.

In other words, in order to try to prove that I was stronger than any pressure my father could place on me, I shut myself off from one of the safety valves God has given us with which to defuse our anxiety, express our sorrow and even demonstrate our joy; and I did so to my detriment.  I had confused stoicism with strength.  It was no fun.

Tears.  As humans, we have the unique ability to weep, to cry over pain, suffering, and injustice.  Or simply to cry because we are sad, or scared, or angry.  It is natural, and it is often the only reasonable response to what is going on in our world or in our lives. 

Job said, "... my eyes pour out tears to God." (Job 16:20)

David, the mighty warrior, nevertheless wrote, "... all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears." (Psa. 6:6) NIV

And these tears are not despised by God, for David also wrote to the Lord, "...list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record?"  or as the KJV puts it, "...put thou my tears into thy bottle."  (Psa. 56:8) We only bottle that which has value - bottled perfume, water, medicine.

Tears are sometimes not only appropriate, but necessary.  After all, even "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)  It was the only appropriate response on that occasion.

Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet" - and a more lachrymose person could hardly be found.  But it was not self-indulgence, or foolish emotionalism, that caused his tears.  He wept because he cared deeply, and thus he said, " Oh that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!  I would weep day and night for the slain of my people."  (Jer. 9:1)

Those who cannot weep, rarely know how to express great joy.  But those who learn to cry when it hurts, can also laugh when it doesn't; they are able to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.

One of the wisest men who ever lived, king Solomon, wrote, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven  ... a time to weep and a time to laugh...". (Eccl. 3: 1, 4)

Physical tears are a natural bodily fluid.  We are designed to cry through the function of the lachrymal glands and our tear ducts.   When the body cannot produce enough tears, some people have to use an artificial product, like Refresh Tears, in order to keep their eyes from becoming dry and irritated. 

In our spirits, when we stifle our God-given ability to shed necessary tears, we allow the pressure in our lives to build up beyond the "safety" level.  Our souls become dry and irritated.  Every silly thing that someone else says or does gets on our very last nerve.  Sooner or later, something is going to give.  No one has ever been bruised by getting hit with a tear; but some have been deeply hurt by angry words or mean-spirited actions.  There is such a thing as "having a good cry" - because weeping keeps our hearts softer before God and toward others. 

It is hard to make a fist when you are busy blowing your nose!

Now, the older I become, the more I am moved to tears - and I do not stifle them.  The beauty of a sunrise, the glory of a garden, or the pain of a loved one's illness, the loss of a friend, these are all legitimate causes for tears.  I am not talking about wallowing, but rather about healthy weeping.

I no longer fear crying as a sign of weakness.  I am reassured by God's word that " ... weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning."  (Psa. 30:5) KJV

I don't explode very often either.  I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that I cry more and cringe less.  In other words, I allow the safety ventilation of a good cry to help me cope with life's pressures.  Big girls don't cry?  Nonsense!  Mature women do.

We will not always need tears.  Revelation tells us that in that new day, in that new place,  "God will wipe away every tear."  (Rev. 21:4)  We will no longer need tears because there will be no more pain or sorrow.  What a joyful promise that is!

But between now and then, why not allow yourself to use one of God's best inventions for the release of, and relief from, stress? Tears!  He made them for a purpose - let us use the ability to weep with purposeful humility.  God bless you. ...Marsha Y.

(Life Is a Pressure Cooker - Part Three)   Stay tuned ...

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