At one of my recent “wildman” retreats, a young man came rather distort, due to the emotional strain of being the caregiver for his wife following her surgery. He shared the discomfort he felt in shedding tears due to his emotional stress. In displaying tears, he felt like a failure in the care of his wife. I know this would be a teaching moment for all of us. I even enlisted the assistance of my wife, in being able to avail a feminine perspective. My point was, “tears can be good, as long as they are not shared in self-pity or used manipulatively.”
Douglas Wilson makes this observation about the masculine in our culture. “We live in a feminist and effeminate culture. Because of this, at best, as a people we are uneasy with masculinity and with increasingly regularity, whenever it manages to appear somehow, we call for someone to do something about it.” This is certainly the case with masculine emotions. “What do you do with a crying man?” Men are constantly been challenged to be more sensitive and nurturing, but when they struggle with their tender side there is little help. As I have said in the past, I say it again, men are going to have to work out their emotional life with other men.
I want to say loudly and clearly to every “suffering” man out there; “tears are not a sign of weakness.” Not only have we not seen the “healthy” expression of tears shed by our fathers and other male role models, but the strong feminist sentiment almost demands that men bury their real feelings. Hear me, men – your wife does not see your shedding of tears as weakness, as long as you are owning your condition. It actually draws her closer to you, because it bring you to the heart level, where she can sense your companionship. Your wife needs to know your heart, not the coldness of your “stiff upper lip.”
Listen men, your tears during emotional stress are like an “emotional release” that needs to be expressed. It is important to your emotional and psychological well being that you find relief. Tears are part of the answer. I can testify to the healthy expression of tears. I don’t like that I have to cry. But when I feel them coming I no longer hold back, even in front of my wife. It brings relief, perspective, and a sense of peace in the midst of an emotional storm.
The Psalms will gives us a biblical perspective. Look up “tears.” Listen to David in Psalm 6. “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?…I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow;…..for the Lord has heard my weeping” (Ps 6: 3,6-7, & 8). If you need to get used to crying, do it is secret; just you and a lovingly heavenly Father, who is waiting to hold you. Men, just learn to let it go. He will hold you and bring comfort if you can be real. Remember you are his child. Twila Paris used to sing “the warrior is a child.” Do yourself a favor and be a man. Let the emotional steam out by having a good cry, especially with your wife.