Crying: Strength or Weakness?
I used to think crying was a sign of weakness. And in some people it is. I'm talking about people who cry at the drop of a hat because they're so fragile that being with them is like walking on eggshells. They cry easily because they twist everything you say to mean the worst possible thing, almost like they're trying to get wounded. Of course, this is a ploy from the enemy, and most marriages have this sort of dynamic going on. Crying in those circumstances is not a sign of strength at all, but a sign of weakness and sin.
Then you have the other extreme, people who never cry. These people have trouble feeling. I'm not kidding. They've built a wall around themselves, and they don't let anyone in. They don't believe, “It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” No, they disagree and would prefer never to feel emotional pain again, thank you very much.
After I was attacked, there was a period of about two years that I didn't cry whatsoever. Not even during a sad movie. I just wouldn't let it in. I would let it slide off my back and decide that I wouldn't care. I'm not sure exactly why I did that. Maybe subconsciously I was afraid that if I started crying, I would fall apart. And perhaps this was true.
I still opened myself up to people in other ways, though, which is unusual for a person who is afraid to feel. And then I started dating my now-husband, and I had feelings whether I liked it or not.
I think most people see crying as a weakness because it's a lack of control over yourself. When we observe emotional immaturity in children, this is the most clear. They're crying because they're not getting what they want, or their will has been thwarted. I've seen adults like this, too. It's not pretty. In this particular situation, crying is a sign of sin. They're basically throwing a fit, and God is not pleased by it.
Crying over things that matter, though, that's a different story. Jesus wept. He wept over others. He wept because He entered into the emotional pain of another person, and this is called the gift of mercy. This type of crying is a sign of strength. It's actually commanded in Scripture: “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). All believers are commanded to do this, not just people with the gift of mercy. Most people disobey this verse because they don't have the emotional fortitude to actually do it. That's because even though they never cry, they are not emotionally mature.
There is also the crying of healing, which seems to be focused on self, but is not wrong because Jesus is weeping about the injustice that has happened to you, too. And if you never let yourself cry over the trauma in your life, you will never heal properly. By heal, I mean being set free from the pain, where the hideous thing that happened to you turns into a blessing, and now you can actually reach out and help others. This type of crying needs to be directed towards God in order for you to properly heal. (You can hear my testimony on how God healed me from my own trauma in “My Submission Story.” It was miraculous how God interacted with me to help me forgive a rapist.)
This is the gift of mercy, when you are able to enter the pain of others, and you are not afraid. That is where I am. I can walk into someone's pain and sorrow, feel it like Jesus does, and offer comfort to the other person through grieving with them. Do you understand how incredibly strong a person has to be to do this? I am not afraid of emotional pain.
I'm not afraid of “strength crying” either. I just made this phrase up just now, but it's when I'm singing praises to God, and I love God so much that I feel exquisite joy, and tears stream down my face, and I don't care if people see. That is because I know that Jesus is glowing out of my face, and why would I be ashamed of Jesus.
Or another “strength crying” would be through conviction of sin. Something is said, and I realize that I was wrong, and I feel a lump in my throat because I am so sorry that I have wounded the heart of God. My sorrow is actually similar to the sorrow of God, so my tears are drawing me closer to God. This is a sign of strength.
So when all is said and done, there are two types of crying:
- Sinful crying where you twist people's words and are focused on yourself. This might include crying for manipulation, which I haven't mentioned, but is highly selfish.
- Righteous crying, where you are either feeling other people's sorrow, or you are sensitive to the sin in your life, or something hideous happened to you, and you have to cry to heal. This kind of crying is pleasing to God and is a sign of strength.