BY Annie Downs
I don’t like to talk about crying.
Here’s the thing. I feel like I cry too much. I don’t know who set that mark for me, the mark that says “this amount of crying is allowed, but THIS is too much.”
But I worry it’s too much.
I just FEEL so many things. And when I feel, I cry.
As for the poor souls who have to deal with my crying, they are almost certainly confused by it. But for me, personally—I know what my tears are saying.
Sometimes, they are saying I am tired. (But also, dear friend, let’s quit using that as a coverup for our emotions. Just a thought. Moving on…)
Sometimes, my tears tell me what hurts.
Sometimes, my tears are because I’m angry.
But a lot of times, my tears tell me what matters.
Author Emily P. Freeman says to listen to your tears—instead of feeling ashamed of them—because they tell you where your heart is:
“Tears are tiny messengers sent from the deepest part of who we are. They whisper – here is where your heart beats strong. This is a hint as to what makes you come alive.”
When I look at this moment when Esther approached the king, I wonder if she knew how much that conversation mattered to her before she began to cry. Or, did her tears do for her what they do for me? Did they indicate to her how deeply her heart was affected?
Sure, there was fear (What if the King gets angry and kills me?), but more than that, I think she may have realized right there in that moment that God had done a deep work in her heart on behalf of her people.
Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that she was telling Mordecai she surely wasn’t the right gal for the job. And now here she is, weeping it says, concerned for the Jewish people.
Esther cried because her heart was moved. According to what we know in Scripture, Esther made the obedient choice first, and then her heart followed. And it followed in a way that most women can relate to—in tears. Her heart followed her into a moment that required courage, knelt down with her in front of the King, and spoke through her tears.
Esther wasn’t ashamed of her tears, at least as far as we know in the Bible. She wept. Openly. She wasn’t afraid of what her heart needed to express because she believed that God had made her on purpose, for THIS purpose.
Maybe instead of feeling embarrassed by my tears, I should start to trust them. Maybe my heart needs more permission to speak. Maybe my tears are signals to me of what matters most. Maybe teary moments on behalf of others is exactly what God uses to soften hearts. Just like an old dried out sponge, nothing brings softness and usability like a little water.
Jesus cried because He trusted what moved His heart. He cried when Lazarus died because pain and death and loss matter. And it is Jesus’s favor before God that gives us permission to do the same—permission to have soft hearts that speak up for others.
When she let her heart speak, when she wasn’t afraid of her tears, when she wasn’t ashamed to feel, Esther helped rescue her people.
Freedom came at the cost of her tears.
I don’t ever want to forget that.