Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When the Tears Won’t Stop or Start

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this, but there are times in all our lives when we can’t stop sobbing. When it occurs, we may soon become exhausted, emotionally and physically. It’s a bizarre twist, having perhaps fallen asleep, we feel better somehow upon awaking.

But tears are not simple. The emotions and their expression complicate life. And sometimes we want to cry, but can’t.

We may worry that if we start crying we may not stop. We may fear our ability to function is too vulnerable to risk. We could even despair of the feelings, and the pain, that arise when we enter into the maze of lament. All these worries are reasonable.

But holding the dam back, as the flooding waters build pressure against the wall, creates other problems. Repressing our valid sentiments means we may not allow ourselves access to an important truth: we’re human; we’re meant to feel.

Managing Our Emotional Dam Level

The metaphor of the dam could be helpful. As dam levels rise to overflow and have nowhere to go other than spill over the edge, so it is that our tipping emotions compel us to sob when we should. If we contain our tears, resisting our overflow, the water behind our dams—our unconscious selves—may stagnate, and fester, like an un-aerated body of water might.

Aerating the water within a dam is vital in regulating oxygen levels so the water remains healthy. Likewise, as we allow our emotions to stir us up, there’s the maintenance—raw as our feelings may be—of our spiritual equilibrium. Nothing we’ll experience is beyond our capacity to endure. And it’s all for our benefit.

Managing our emotional dam level is attending to the truth of our felt beings. We need to feel what we feel. If we don’t allow ourselves that felt freedom we experience less freedom for truth in the future.

Whilst We Sob, We Also Pray For Healing

Crying is fine—it’s an inevitable part of being human. The key issue is finding a safe place to experience our emotions and to be true to who we are in the moment.

But we waste an important opportunity if, when we sob, we don’t also pray for healing. Indeed, the whole mood, as we ebb and flow in our sadness or grief or disappointment, etc, can become one that’s prayerful. Never more closely do we relate with God than in lament.


Repressing our feelings is understandable, yet not altogether beneficial. It would be better to sob, then, in the action, pray silently to the Spirit for healing. Letting our emotions flow is to cooperate with the healing will of the Lord.

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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