Things had been going so well. But now I watched as genuine crocodile tears ran down his chubby little red face.
Tatum had been having a blast in the electric car his Uncle Michael had brought to our house. Driving the tiny vehicle appeared to be the highlight of his toddler life. I was impressed he could keep the pedal pushed down enough to make the car hum across the patio. Steering, however, proved to be a skill he hadn’t yet mastered. His giggles, though, fully compensated our efforts as we raced to keep the path cleared of porch furniture and planters ahead of him.
The problem started when we informed “Tater” that his big sister and cousin wanted a turn. He wanted none of that and kept his tiny foot pressed firmly on the accelerator. We eventually caught him and pried him out of the car. His response was to crumple forlornly onto the concrete and sob.
Such a pathetic scene. I’ll admit I chuckled at the fact he had his hands stuffed deeply into his pockets, a funny little habit he’d recently developed. But my Mimi’s heart also hurt for him as he experienced the most supreme injustice of his twenty-one months of life. His heart was crushed. It was lesson 101 in “Life Isn’t Fair!”
However, what happened next taught me the biggest lesson.
My son, the kind-hearted uncle, stooped and stretched out on the concrete right beside the sobbing boy. He put his arm around him, cushioning his head with his muscular arm. He stuck his other hand in his own pocket in a simple gesture of solidarity with his young nephew. And he silently let him cry.
It quickly dawned on me I’d just witnessed a very impressive moment. When Tatum expressed his hurt feelings, we could have unleashed a barrage of instruction on the virtues of sharing. Undoubtedly, down the road, that lesson will be taught. But what this little boy needed at that moment was compassion. No words. The mere physical presence of his beloved uncle said “I’m here for you, little fellow. We’ll get through this together.”
Grief & Comfort
I believe we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. We’ve been the grieved and we’ve been the comforter.
As grievers, we have experienced wrenching brokenness when life deals us a harsh blow. Life isn’t fair. We know that. But it doesn’t take away the hurt. Sometimes we don’t need to hear the answers because we already know them. We just need someone to validate the tears.
We’ve also been in a position to comfort. But how many times have we blown that opportunity? One of the most common ways to “blow it” is to do nothing. To shy away from a hurting friend because we don’t know what to say or do. So what should we do?
Go. Do nothing. Say nothing. Just be there.
Where Our Tears Come From
We know God makes our tears. But they are not all made alike. The actual structure and chemical makeup of our tears varies based on the reason we are crying. We have tears of grief, of joy, of pain, of surprise, and even from cutting onions. They’re all different. Some have sharp, jagged edges; others appear smoother and more rounded. Who but God could have done that? Psalm 56:8 also tells us He keeps a record of each one, and He saves them in a bottle. (How precious is that?) Why not allow them to freely spill and be used to cleanse and heal? Truly tears serve an impressive function. They serve a purpose for that grieving friend. Let them flow!
Of course, sharing words of admonition and consolation can be a very good approach. But perhaps your friends, like mine, already know the scriptural response to their trial. A time for those reminders may come later. Sometimes just showing up and offering a shoulder to confirm the fact it hurts is what helps the most. No judgment. No suggestions to “suck it up.” Just a shoulder.Sometimes we just need a shoulder to cry on… Click To Tweet
Remember that “Jesus wept” (Matthew 11:35). Perhaps the fact this is the shortest verse in the Bible reinforces the idea that sometimes no extra words are needed. Jesus simply needed to weep over the situation. He let the tears soothe His broken heart. He knows how we feel. And I love being assured that even when no one else comes alongside us in our “soggy moments,” the Lord Jesus understands and never shies away from us. He’s always there! I can cry on His strong and loving shoulder whenever I need to do so.
Tears are a funny little gift. We don’t feel them until we need them. Then they come. Let’s allow those who are weeping to fill the jar Jesus has prepared to save those tears in. Just be there. Without judgment.
Go be a “gentle uncle.”
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them, which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4 , KJV
Join the Conversation
Have you ever thought about the source of our tears? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author
Linda VanderWier just loves to write, especially inspirational pieces. She refers to words as her “Mental Tinker Toys” and can’t seem to stop playing with them! Her blog, “Ironing the Preacher’s Shirts: Lessons, Laughs, and Love behind the Scenes at the Preacher’s House,” encourages others to learn about God through everyday events. She’s published a children’s story, several devotionals, some small articles, and written dozens of full-length Christmas plays. She now looks forward to publishing her first book. She has been blessed to serve in the ministry beside her husband Jon for 37 years. They have 5 grown children (including 2 in-law children) and now 6 young grandchildren.
As an atheist transformed by the Word of God, Mariel Davenport knows the power of seeking God through His Word. She is passionate about equipping others to tend their soul by the Word as well. She does this through her TEND method, a simple process of engaging with God through the Scriptures.
She shares her method through online Tend Gatherings, Scripture journals and speaking engagements. Having been featured in places like CBN.com, Proverbs 31 ministries, Not My Story, Brave Woman Series and The Love Offering Series; Mariel has reached ladies of all ages and denominations with the joy of knowing God through His Word for themselves. She co-leads the membership community, Knowing God Through His Word, which encourages others to read through the Bible. She is co-author of Tapestry of Grace and Knowing God through the Word Scripture Journal.
Mariel is a wife to her man of nearly 25 years and a retired homeschool mama turned writer, who enjoys salsa from her garden as she pursues the Gardener who tends her soul. Tend your soul with her bi-monthly newsletter, Tending Tools, and get updates and announcements about upcoming TEND Gatherings by signing up at marieldavenport.com/tending/