When’s the last time you had a good cry? For me, it was towards the end of my silent retreat.
I’ve shared before that I tend to be a pretty emotional guy. I like to say that I’m such a softie that I cry at toilet paper commercials on TV. While that may be a stretch, I have been learning more and more through the years that it is not such a bad thing to let emotions out now and again. This kind of runs counter-cultural. As a guy, we’re trained from youth not to cry. Crying is sign of weakness! Suck it up! You want me to give you something to cry about?!?
I’ve come to realize that tears are a very cleansing thing. They seem to be God’s way of flushing out a lot of the stuff that we allow to build up inside us. This is what happened on my recent retreat. I had a good cry.
Now, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill cry, garden variety cry. This was one of those sobbing from the depths of your soul, body convulsing, spit rolling down your chin, snot running out your nose cries. The kind that, when you’re done, you feel like you’ve been blown to pieces, but then put lovingly back together. Does that make sense? It hurts so much while it is happening, but feels so good when it’s all over.
Once I finished this once in a blue moon cry, I tried to kind of analyze what it was all about. (Such a guy, huh? Can’t just let it be; gotta always analyze things. Oh, well…) In the beginning, I think there was some fear involved. I had reached a point where I was pretty much naked before God. After three days of silence and prayer, all of the pretensions had been stripped away. Now it was just me. No more masks. No more secrets. No more hiding. At first, my friend, that is a scary place to be.
The next emotion I remember feeling very strongly was shame. Shame and guilt. When I had finally shed all the layers of the facade, there was some pretty ugly stuff to confront. This is when the really deep sobs began to well up. Once all the blackness was laid bare, there was sorrow. I can remember saying over and over again, “Oh, Daddy, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that I’ve hurt you. I’m so sorry that that I ignore you, that I don’t seek your wisdom, that I close the door of my heart on you so much. Please forgive me!”
At this point I had become a total basket case. A blubbering mass of protoplasm. And this is when the real healing properties of a good cry start to kick in. You know how they say that sweating during a good workout cleanses toxins from the body? I believe that the same thing happens spiritually during a good cry like this. I could feel a weight being lifted from me. It was as though thick layers of tar, so black and gummy that I couldn’t breathe, were being extracted from inside me. It was complete relief from what had been ailing me.
A quick mention about the physical aspect of this encounter with the Lord. When this was happening, I was sitting in my lawn chair by the lake. When I first started this encounter, I drew my legs up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. Kind of like being in the fetal position. And in this experience, I was like a little child curled up in the fetal position, lying on Daddy’s chest. There was an amazing sense of oneness. I was totally enveloped in the presence of God. It was more than amazing.
God is sooooo good! He knows just what we need when we need it. I imagine He had been waiting down my the lake for some time, knowing that I would be there, ready to let go of so much of the stuff that I had been holding in. And after the floodgates had been opened and the raging river of tears had finally been unleashed, there was peace. The peace that passes all understanding.
A couple of quick final thoughts…I suppose for admitting all this I could get my “man card” revoked. So be it. This isn’t the kind of thing that happens often. (I daresay that if we’re crying too often, that may be a signal of another problem.) But when it does, roll with it. Experience it. Enjoy the fruits that come from it.
Lastly, God has been teaching me more and more to be in the moment. Not some kind of hedonistic mantra about doing whatever you want, whatever makes you “feel good.” But experiencing His presence in each moment. Seeing the hand of God working in every moment of our lives. I pray that we can all experience this grace more often. May the peace of our Lord be with you!