As a young child I remember watching Rosey Grier singing a song called, “It’s Alright to Cry.” The song was meant to teach men it’s OK to show pain, to show emotion and to allow themselves to cry without shame. Grier was a mammoth of a man and an ex pro football player. Watching him assert that it’s alright to cry was powerful.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in Return of the King, “I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are evil.”
I cannot tell you how many times in life, in movies and in society I have heard terms like “suck it up” or “wipe the tears from your eyes.” It’s almost like we have such an unhealthy fear of crying and the cleansing power crying can have. We seem to think there is weakness in showing that pain and letting it out with a good cry.
I was having a conversation with some friends recently about the day before Thanksgiving and how this is known as the biggest drinking day of the year. Bars add extra staff on that night as they know they will be packed with people trying to drown their sorrows in a glass. We talked about how so many people come home or have family come home for the holiday and they just want an escape from pain instead of wanting to deal with the pain and get actual healing from things that hurt.
I am sure everyone of us has things that hurt like this, memories that will trigger us. We hide behind behaviors that just mask the pain instead of trying to heal the pain. It is much easier to put a Band-Aid on than to deal with the root of the problem. We allow whatever is eating us to get pushed down and hidden temporarily instead of dealing with the true cause of the hurt.
In the work we do fighting to end abortion this kind of pain and hurt is something I see on a daily basis. Women, men, siblings, family and friends all feel the pain of abortion and what it does not just to the mothers but to everyone in their lives. Abortion is not just one of the most controversial and heated issues facing our world today, it is also one of the most painful and heart-wrenching things anyone can experience.
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I have met countless people who have deep wounds from an abortion in their lives. I have talked to women who cannot forgive themselves or don’t believe God will forgive them. I have talked to men who harbor so much pain and anger about the loss of the child they never got to hold. I have talked to young people who find out they lost a sibling and struggle with pain and anger towards their parents. The wounds are like a ripple in a body of water that just goes on and on.
I have sat at many a Thanksgiving table knowing that the smiles and laughter are sometimes just masks people wear to get them through the holiday. We list what we are thankful for and try to enjoy the time we have with those around us but I often wonder how many of those smiles around the table are fake.
I am writing this not to bring up pain and hurt but to remind everyone it’s OK to deal with our pain, it’s OK to admit we hurt and it is absolutely alright to cry. Sometimes it is exactly a good cry that we need to let go of pain. The tears are not evil; sometimes they are a perfect way to help wash away an evil that has hurt us.
Jesus wept. This is mostly known as the shortest verse in the Bible. In Matthew 11 we read about Mary Magdalene and the whole community weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus and this is when we read the words, “Jesus Wept.” I am no biblical scholar but what I take away from this is that Christ cares for us so much that He will even cry with us.
But Jesus doesn’t only weep, he also heals the pain of this family. Of course, Jesus is not going to raise all who die from the grave to heal our pain, but He can and will free us from the prison we build for ourselves when we don’t want to deal with our hurt. Christ will weep with us, He will grieve with us, He will heal us and raise us up in victory over the pain that has a death grip on us.
I have the honor to work alongside an important and inspiring ministry, Rachel’s Vineyard. It’s the largest post-abortion healing ministry and exists to help people not just face the pain abortion causes but to help them cry through that pain. Not just cry to alone, but to weep with Jesus and allow Him to heal and raise them from that death grip the pain holds on them.
I have seen the transformation in so many who refuse to hold on to pain any longer, who allow themselves to stop putting on a mask but to find a real smile to share with those who care about them.
As we go into this Thanksgiving weekend most of us will gather with loved ones and friends. Many of us will also be hiding pain and thinking we need to just suck it up and wash away the tears. I have done this myself countless times.
I want to encourage everyone to not fall into that trap, that death grip that keeps you from true joy and happiness. Don’t hold onto pain and think it’s just something you must accept. Like Tolkien wrote, I will also not say do not weep. I say, it’s alright to cry. Not just cry, but to weep and allow Christ to weep with us and heal us.
If the pain crippling you now is from abortion, please know there are so many who will weep with you and help you weep with Christ as He heals you. Rachel’s Vineyard is here to help you and to take this healing journey with you. I encourage you to reach out to them at rachelsvineyard.org.