“For every laugh, there should be a tear” Walt Disney.
Tears, that salty liquid that flows from your eyes, down your cheeks onto your heart is precious. There are various reasons why we cry, whether the tears are from a loss or tears that flow from happy events. Whatever brings them on, tears have a function, and we should not hold back our tears but allow them to flow when they need to.
One of my favourite verses in the bible says, “You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle not one will be lost. For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.” (Psalm 56:8 TPT). God sees every tear you shed and they are valuable to Him that He stores them in a bottle! I don’t know about you, but that image moves me!
Our culture has socialised boys with the belief that ‘men don’t cry’. So many men don’t show their emotions, let alone shed tears. Secondly, most of us are raised with no awareness of our emotions or expressing them through tears is challenging. “It is like our fear of feelings themselves is scarier than the feelings”.
Sadness is a valid emotion it alerts us to know how we need to treat ourselves and also that we need others. Sadness helps and guides us through multiple emotional and necessary journeys in life. The only way to make our pain less and heal it is to feel it and process it.
Isn’t it fascinating that God put our eyes in front of our faces so that others can see our tears when they are falling and really see us, and reach out to us with empathy?
When we deny our feelings or push them away, including stifling our tears we are denying our true needs and desires. Our emotions, whether they come through tears, are like road signals directing us to what we need and so we need to pay attention to them, without them it is like driving without a map.
There are several reasons that bring tears to our eyes. According to research by David Silverstone, M.D. professor of ophthalmology at the Yale School of Medicine, “there are three types of tears, namely basal tears- they are the tears that are always present in your eyes their function is to lubricate, nourish and protects the cornea. Reflex tears are tears that are formed to wash away harmful irritants like onions or any foreign bodies in our eyes. In a sense, our tears wash away toxins from our eyes but also cleanse our lives from the things that have caused us pain. The third kind of tears are emotional tears ”they rise from strong emotions and it communicates to others our pain, while it makes us vulnerable it is nevertheless important that we don’t hold back those tears.
Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher started a project called ‘Topography of tears,’ a fascinating piece of work that explored tears under a microscope and revealed the nuances of emotions in the different kinds of tears. She captured tears of grief, joy, laughter and irritation. Fisher’s project revealed that even though all tears contain a variety of biological substances, which include enzymes, oils and antibodies. Emotional tears contain for protein- based hormones and the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller that is released when the body is under stress. She says, “tears are the medium of our most primal language…… It’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean” This highlights the importance of tears and the role they play in our emotional well-being.
Our favourite kind of tears are ‘happy tears’ and tears of change. I have witnessed firsthand the tears that fall when someone has taken constructive steps in facing their pain or story in therapy, allowing their emotions to surface, and the tears that fall for something so powerful as taking ownership of one’s life, taking steps to live life abundantly as Jesus came to give us. It is empowering and as a witness to these moments, I treasure them as sacred, my own tears fall alongside the clients.
When my daughter got married I shed tears of joy and also tears of change. The tears were a combination of the new life she was embarking on with her husband and also the years of travelling with her from her life as a baby, through school, the challenges of the teen years, victory of school netball matches, the losses and pain we had shared and now to see her standing as a beautiful young lady and a gorgeous bride! The tears just flowed……
It is best echoed this way “for every laugh there should be a tear” Walt Disney.