When I was a little girl reading Jane Austen, crying about injustice or deep emotional pain seemed like a very romantic and grown-up thing to do.
Not that I had a lot of deep emotional pain when I was six years old. Or any real societal injustice over which to shed tears. But every now and then, angered or disappointed about six-year-old dramas, I’d dab my eyes with a handkerchief (okay, so it was toilet paper) and feel rather mature in my sorrow.
I wouldn’t cry for physical pain, though. My pride wouldn’t let me. Broken nose? Eh, no sweat. Infected third-degree burn from a motorcycle tailpipe? So not worth crying over. Tears were reserved for the big stuff. Like the hopelessness of society or euthanasia of impounded puppies.
I don’t feel mature in my tears anymore. At twenty-one years old, when I do cry, I can’t help but think that no matter what I’m feeling, it’s not unique. I’m not experiencing any sorrow that millions of people through the course of history haven’t also lived through. That thousands more aren’t crying for at this very moment. I’m not the only one with pain.
My life wasn’t particularly tragic.
The things I’ve struggled with aren’t peculiar to me.
When I cry, the world keeps turning; people keep going to their jobs, fulfilling (or not fulfilling) their responsibilities, seeing to their friends and families, their own needs and desires. When I cry, the sun still rises and sets.
And at the end, I’ve got a pounding headache and a pile of used toilet paper. Twenty-one years old, and I’m still not sophisticated enough for a handkerchief.
Jane Austen wouldn’t have known what to do with me.
But my creator knows my tears before I even cry them. The God I serve knows when I’m overcome with emotion. He comes alongside me and reminds me to wait, because He’s with me through it.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee…thou tellest my wonderings. Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? –Psalm 56:3,8