I cried for the first time in 16 years this past summer. I went 16 years without a good sob. I think the last time I cried I was 10 or 11. It was probably related to getting left out of a family gathering where there was “no place for children.” (I felt my socialite status as an eleven-year-old was not recognized by my superiors and that was simply unfair.)
Sure, a drop may have escaped from my eyes a couple times—but mostly I didn’t have the response I expected to. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel sad or because I wanted be a “Macho Man.” Nothing seemed quite sad enough to warrant crying. I think it came down to two things: I felt like I had to deserve to cry and I didn’t want to cry in front of other people.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus weeps at the sight of Jerusalem. It might seem insignificant, but there’s something here that is helpful when it comes to understanding human emotions.
Jesus is perfect. This doesn’t mean he’s a cold-hearted robot who never messes up a math problem, it means when there is an appropriate time to feel an emotion, he feels it in the perfect amount and then moves on. Our emotions are what make us human. We tend to treat human emotion as a defect and not as a feature of our humanity.
Crying is an emotion that is frowned upon in our culture. I don’t know what to do when someone is crying. I feel like an out-of-place Iron Giant, waiting for the leaking to subside. Do they want a hug or some space?
Emotions are a difficult thing. If we don’t let it out, it will haunt us. Emotion stays trapped inside our bodies and builds up until we’re ready to explode.
This past summer, my wife and I miscarried our first child. I remember feeling all sorts of things, but I really couldn’t explain what those feelings were. It reached a point where words didn’t do the job. A couple days after the miscarriage, a pit started growing in my stomach. I thought maybe I had a stomach bug. I hate throwing up.
My wife realized I needed to talk. She pulled me into our bedroom and asked what was going on. I started sharing the thoughts about our child and what I was experiencing. The floodgates opened and my sixteen years of emotional drought came to a close. I stopped resisting my emotions and let them wash over me. I wept and felt my grief at something—someone—I had lost.
After my cry I felt so much better. I was not longer trying to cram my emotional laundry into a suitcase.
I felt peace.
Feeling emotion is a good thing. There can be too much, or too little. Neither extreme is the way we were meant to be. We were meant to be human. Whenever in doubt, look to Jesus as your guide.
Patrick produces YouTube content for young Catholics on Catholic Late Night and Overt TV. He loves using humor to share the Truth of the Catholic faith with anyone who will listen. He resides currently in Chattanooga, TN and is a parishioner at The Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Patrick graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in Communication Arts and a Minor in Marketing.
Featured Image Credit: Ben Hershey, https://unsplash.com/photos/8-fHqPCNy4c