tears are feelingTears… they can scare even the mightiest of men!  Men often ask me, “What I supposed to do when she cries, I am never sure if I should hug her – or not, say something – or not, apologize even if I wasn’t the one who made her cry -or not?  Women and tears just confuse me! How do I get it right?”

Last year I taught a seminar on Men and Women in Leadership for the Regional Young Life Staff training.  Tasked with helping mid twenty year olds in full time ministry understand the impact of gender differences on how they lead, communicate and relate in general.

During the Q &  A time, one of the men shared how awkward he felt when his female co-leader’s eyes filled with tears during a tough conversation, when their feeling frustrated, or when things didn’t go well in their work that day…

“How are we supposed to handle that?”

“What do you want to do?”  I asked

“Get outta there!  I keep wondering what did I do to make her cry, I felt  awful and awkward,” he replied.

We women get frustrated when we cry because we are angry or frustrated, tears just seam to leap from our eyes, no matter how hard we try to contain them.  We cry at commercials, cards, movies too!  So the fact that men are confused is understandable.

Preparing for this seminar, I did some research on the difference between how men and women express emotion.  Research confirms what we have known all along, men and women’s brains are just different – because they are biologically unique. There is loads of science and research confirming this and the way it plays out in our lives.

Apparently, women are biologically wired to shed more tears than men, according to an article in the WSJ. In additional to all the brain biology, women’s tear ducts are actually smaller than men’s, so they spill over more easily.  Wild, huh!?

And, get this- women’s brain synapses tend toward responding with emotion and empathy, while men’s with action and problem solving.

Without going into a huge discussion about the scientific specifics, I boiled it down to this:  “Women’s emotions are connected to their tear ducts, so when they have a feeling it will show up in tears.”

So, men… when you see tears, think, “Oh she must be having a feeling or two! I wonder what it is.  Maybe I should ask her.”

And all the women screamed…”YES!”

Our tears are a way to express our emotions.  These feelings spilling from our eyes come in moments of joy, sorrow, pain, frustration and yes even anger.

Sometime we scorn our tears, quickly wiping them away in an effort to be logical, or appear pulled together.  But tears are beautiful.  And they matter to God.

Today’s She Reads Truth- Day 41 quoted Psalm 56:8 “You kept count of my tossings and put my tears on your bottle.”  This is the Psalmist reminding himself that God notices, sees, understands and yes even counts or treasures our tears.

Emotions -deep, painful, and raw are not lost to God.

Emotions– joyful, exuberant, tender are captured as well.

I tend to be more comfortable with- or less embarrassed of – joyful tears. It’s the tears of agony, pain, mourning, wounds that I struggle with others seeing.  But knowing God sees them and tenderly holds the delicate strands of sorrow and sanity flowing from my eyes… helps me be more gentle with my self in these moments. And this reality helped me feel less alone in my darkest days.

Can you relate?  Have you been there my friend, tossing and struggling, feeling alone and unseen. This verse reminds us that we are not alone.

This image of God, counting and capturing our tears, implies such an intimate knowing of me… of you… by the One who made us, who loves us and sees us.  Up close and personal to our tears, tremblings and triumphs.

How does this image impact you as you think back on times of tears…  Happy tears, sad tears…mishandled tears?  How might it influence you as you move forward and have feelings that spill from your eyes the next time?

4 Responses to “Uh-oh, she’s crying… now what?”

  1. Linda

    Strange what brings us comfort. I find it comforting that He knows me by name. I find it comforting that He knows how many hairs are on my head. I find it comforting that He catches my tears in a bottle, never allowing one to spill.
    I don’t shed tears easily or often. There was a time that I was sure I had cried so many tears that I would never be able to summon another. There are things that bring tears to my eyes–particular songs, the smell of a pipe, Jergins hand cream, baby powder, certain pictures–but many more that simply bring a smile to my heart. The tears that spring to my eyes mostly remain there…they are seldom spilled.
    In particular I relate to Luke 2:19 ‘Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.’ It is standing still–rather than fight or flight. Pondering, accepting, abiding and enduring.

    • Susie Miller

      Linda, that verse/concept is one of my favs too! Pondering in my heart is the place I find rest as God meets me there. I resonate with your words and as i grow older I am beginning to lean more into the truth that He knows my name, calls me beloved, His, and the rest this brings. I like the metaphor the “catches our tears” unfolds as it speaks of how tenderly God cares for and carries our hurts and sorrows. As well as, God being very present in times of joy There is an intimacy implied in God being close enough to capture and hold our tears. I love your choice of the word: comforting. Yes!!

  2. Jen

    I think the tears that get me the most are the tears of anger. I immediately go to that place of weakness… I shouldn’t be crying, I should have said something, but the words don’t come to me that fast as for as long as I can remember when I would fight with my sister it was her strong words and my shameful tears. How would it be if I thought about my God at these times? It would have been comforting, uplifting and peaceful. Thanks for the new valuable perspective on my tears, I hope to think of this the next time I am tearful…

    • Susie Miller

      Tears aren’t weak Jen, they are just another way to express ourselves… anger, joy, sorrow. I like your idea of thinking about God in these moments. (I usually am so self focused, I miss sharing the moment with Him). I used to hate that I cried and teared up so easily, now i just offer myself grace… try it!! let me know how it feels!


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