When did it become wrong for men to cry? Did their cheeks suddenly become too fragile to bear the weight of cascading tears? Perhaps we ought to remove the offending tear glands, numb our nerves and discard our hopes. It would appear, each tear that escapes our eyes dissolves our muscles and eats away at our faith for who hasn’t heard a weeping man being encouraged to be strong and mourning Christian being quizzed about his faith’s whereabouts? Rubbish!
Our tears lubricate our hearts, letting our sorrows slip off so we leave them as we journey on. Grief is our response to loss, be it a loved one, a plan, a hope or even a favourite pen. It is this grief that coaxes tears from the eyelids that fetter them, drawing them down our cheeks so we may lose the sadness that they carry. We all face loss and so we all face grief, should we not then cry?
Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t even blame it on the bad times – blame it on the false syllogism. Crying is a sign of weakness but men shouldn’t be weak, thus, men shouldn’t cry. Crying comes from lack of faith, Christians should have faith, Christians shouldn’t cry. These simple but dangerous statements should actually make us all cry. How is crying a sign of weakness? How is crying a lack of faith?
For whatever reason, we men (pun intended) believe we are supposed to be Terminators to make it in life… Unfeeling and oozing pure logic, we are to forge ahead in life. We are never to show that we can be hurt, that we can lose. Our value, we’ve decided (& been encouraged to believe) comes from achievement. So we are terrified of failure, we are afraid to lose. Crying is a confession that we have lost or fear that we will lose and who wants to admit that?
Faith is seen as an inoculation from reality. The world is bitter and cold so faith supposedly disengages us from that cold bitterness (or is it bitter cold) giving us the ability to go out into the Arctic, dressed in nothing more than shorts, vests and stompies. Thus, no Christian is expected to feel the effects of facing harsh reality… “How can you be feeling cold? Did you take your medication?”
Job causes real problems for that mindset. Smack in the middle of the Bible, is a book soggy with a grown man’s tears. In one day, he went from living every man’s dream to being every man’s nightmare: from riches to rags. From healthy to boils (anyone who’s seen a man with a cold knows how poorly we handle being ill). So, his tears flowed and his mouth cursed his birthday.
The book is a weird one. The one guy that God singled out as blameless cries throughout while his horrified friends speak none but pious words, begging Job to repent. Yet, at the end of the book, God commends the crying Christian and scolds the pious pastors. Why? It’s simple – Job felt as if God had turned against him and so that sense of loss broke his heart. Yet, this feeling didn’t make him turn against God (“I will trust God even if he kills me” – Job 13:15). That’s certainly remarkable, especially when you think about the “crises of faith” ignited by cracked nails and lost soccer balls.
I don’t think I need to mention Jesus, the ultimate man, looking for sympathy from his friends in the garden of Gethsemane. I’ll just say that I’m a man, so I cry not because of I’ve given up but because I’m in a pain. I cry because it washes the hurt from my heart. I cry because I’m human and gloriously so.