An Exercise in Self Awareness
Three things that make me cry
My best friend and I sat on the front row of the dingy movie theater, trying to hold it together. We were only ten years old, our bottom lips quivered and our eyes filled with moisture.
We had just finished watching “Benji: The Hunted.” (A movie about a little dog if you aren’t familiar with 80’s kid’s movies.) As the lights in the theatre came up, I looked at my friend. Both of us frantically wiped the tears from our eyes. We knew we had a problem.
Men aren’t supposed to cry, especially in front of other men. We were only ten but already knew this wasn’t acceptable. So we made a pact, “This is just between us. We won’t sell each other out. No one has to know we cried.”
I am a grown man now, not just a boy pretending to be one. I am comfortable with my masculinity. I am not confused by it. I don’t hide it. Maybe I fit the stereotype, I’m okay with that. I stink after a long day of work. I have hair growing seemingly everywhere. I carry a pocket knife. I own guns. I like westerns and metal. I am physically strong. I have lots of scars. And guess what. I cry sometimes.
I am not an emotional person. I don’t have “a feminine side.” I don’t particularly appreciate talking about feelings. But there are a few things that I am exceedingly passionate about, and they stir up in me deep emotion. I am NEVER ashamed to cry about any of these three things.
A mother nurturing her child. A father protecting his little girls. A husband’s sacrificial love of his wife. A grandparent teaching their grandbabies.
These are intended to be strong bonds and meaningful relationships. Familial commitment demonstrated through deep abiding love should always stir emotion within us. When we see that love withheld, it should break our hearts.
I don’t cry at every YouTube video of a military reunion or touching family moment. But every once in a while, something hits me just right, and my throat catches, and my eyes leak. It reminds me of the way things are supposed to be, and it inspires me to love deeply and makes me want to be a better father, husband, and son.
The person who I love the most in this life is Jesus Christ. Because He saved me from an unbearable existence. He gave me purpose. Jesus took all the terrible things I have done and made me new. Or maybe I should say, He is making me new.
The thought of Him suffering and dying because of my sinful desires, selfish heart, and poor decisions crushes me. I am overwhelmed by His unconditional love for me. His pursuit of my rebellious heart touches me.
Anytime I see the crucifixion portrayed,
if I sit and think of His death,
if I read about the cross,
or if I speak about His resurrection
there will be tears. Every time.
After 30 years of walking with Jesus, I still cry when I think of what He did for me, and I am not ashamed of that.
Knowing Christ and the peace that He has brought to my life makes the thought of people without access to Christ profoundly disturbing. It is an eternal injustice that the vast majority of Christians in the world live in peace and comfort. While there are people who are suffering and needing Jesus, and no one will tell them.
How can we enjoy our freedoms while completely ignoring Jesus’ command to go?
I hurt for the Muslims, who don’t know about the love of God or the freedom that comes from knowing Christ.
I ache for those enslaved to spirit worship and fear,
My heart weeps for those devoted to empty religions who have never encountered the risen Christ.
I cry because I desperately want them to know Jesus, but mostly I cry because I am ashamed that we, the people of God, are not going.
There are things in this world that should profoundly disturb the people of God. We know that even our Savior cried and wept when He was sad or encountered injustice. So don’t be ashamed to let people see that tear run down your face. Just be sure that your tears are not wasted on unworthy or worldly priorities. Put your passions in the right place, and the rest will follow.
Let me close by saying, It is always okay for a man to shed a tear in a dog movie, be it Benji, Ol Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows. (That is the secret fourth reason.)