Friday, December 01, 2006

Cry Like A Baby????

Last night, the tears flowed like rain at my house. I knew that it was going to happen. My wife had taped the Hallmark movie Candles On Bay Street, so we watched that together in the evening. We might be the only marriage in America where the man is more emotive than the woman. I admit to being a "softie." I'm so glad that Little House On The Prairie has finally gone off the air, because I couldn't watch an episode without being moved to tears.

Yes, crying can sometimes be an indicator of depression, but I'm feeling fine (right now), so I can't offer that as an explanation of my behavior. Maybe I'm just not tough enough. Frankly, I'm not sure what it means to be tough. Does it mean that you never cry? Are you tough if you are hard-fisted? I know the foolishness and futility of that. Do you measure it by whether or not you have been to a war zone and back? You know, like John Wayne. If you are tough, do you have a strong tolerance for pain? I've had more broken bones that Bayer has aspirins, but never a whimper. Of course, my teeth have been ground down to the gums. Do you keep a "stiff upper lip" at funerals? Come on now, tell me. Do the tough ever cry?

Typically, little boys start hearing "Crying is for babies" when they are in their diapers. My Dad was different. The best advice I ever received from my father was when he told me, "Stormy, don't ever be ashamed of an honest emotion." That's not easy to do in our culture.

There's one man who comes to my mind when I think about "toughness." That man is the apostle Paul. He wrote, "I have prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger from false brothers. I...have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked (2 Corinthians 11:23-27)." In spite of all that, he kept right on preaching and serving the Lord.

That sounds like toughness to me. Yet, he admits that "I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears...(2 Corinthians 2:4)." He could have been too tough to shed "many tears," but he wasn't. Paul never allowed manliness to get in the way of an honest emotion.

Now that I think about it, I believe I could have watched Candles On Bay Street in a room full of men, and still have been comfortable with my honest tears. Of course, if anybody laughed...I might have been so weak as to punch him.

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