In my Amarillo High School Bible class the last two days we wrapped up our study of Joseph in Genesis 45-50. I had forgotten that the writer tells of seven times Joseph cried or wept from the time his brothers went to Egypt for their second visit until their father’s death years later.
I then thought of some well-known expressions that discourage crying. Boys are sometimes told “don’t be a sissy” when they cry or tear up. There is also the number one hit by the Four Seasons in the 1960s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” And then there is the oft repeated observation from Tom Hanks in the film A League of their Own “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Is it ok to cry? My answer is yes.
Let me underscore five “Personal Reflections” to consider from Gene Getz in his 1983 book Joseph: From Prison to Palace with added observations from me.
- God created human beings with the capacity to weep. (Which in and of itself doesn’t automatically make it ok.)
- Weeping is not necessarily a sign of weakness. (For men, boys, women, or girls.)
- There is a time and place to weep and it’s to be done with proper motives. (Which suggests weeping can be done with an improper motive–like manipulation.)
- Weeping often clears the way for objective communication. (Honesty often is the result of crying.)
- Weeping can be a true test of our motives. (See #3.)
I am not embarrassed to admit that I am a person who cries from time to time in a variety of situations. Crying for me is often a release of emotion: stress, relief, gratitude, sorrow, guilt, or joy. Sometimes a song induces a few tears. And sometimes anger and its aftermath brings some tears.
It’s not just babies who cry; and I would hope we never call someone who weeps a crybaby. Some cry more easily and more often than others, but my sense is all of us should be open to crying from time to time and do not need to apologize for it.
I conclude with the two questions Getz asked in his “Personal Challenge” to stimulate our thinking:
- When was the last time you wept?
- Why have you wept?
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