Tears are messengers telling us to pay close attention.
I used to be terrified to tear up in public. But a season of mourning helped me overcome my terror of being caught with tears streaming down my face.
For years anger was my go-to emotion. I would rather get mad than feel the depths of sad.
But I learned the hard way how destructive anger is when facing grief. When my father died suddenly in 1998, and without a medical explanation, my grief got stuck in the anger stage for far too long. I took my mad out on God and stopped attending church.
It wasn’t until our family watched a Matthew video series that my heart softened enough to crave fellowship again.
Psalm 103:8-9 KJV says: The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
A Faith Test
The next tragic test of my faith came when a young family member died during a relapse in her recovery from drug addiction.
This time I cried out in agony and disbelief, “How can this be happening? It doesn’t make any sense.”
But because I already learned the lesson of how harmful it is to stay mad, I immediately told God I choose to trust Him despite the despicable circumstances. I knew He heard the multitude of prayers I aimed at heaven on her behalf. I also knew He loved her more than any mortal person ever could.
Choosing to Trust
So I trusted. And when songs at church stirred my heart and begged me to praise Him in the depths of my sorrow, tears flowed freely because I refused to stay angry.
Psalm 56:8 KJV says: Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
Tapping into tears is healthy and helpful because it facilitates living in the moment. And nothing is more powerful than a praying parent who is tapping into tears motivated by a love as deep as the ocean. God’s love is deeper still, so He hears the heart cries of mamas and papas who desire the salvation of their offspring.
James 5:16 KJV promises: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Anger isn’t bad. It’s if we wallow in it and what we do with it that determines if it’s vile or of value.
If anger turns us away from God, it’s not good. If anger turns to tears of grief and motivates us to press into the Lord with—and despite—our doubt and desperation, it’s very good. In fact, if we say to Him, “I choose to trust You no matter what,” that’s as good as it gets. It’s an offering that pleases Him more than many offerings, because faith that trusts during trials is gold to God.
The two grief incidences I mentioned prepared my heart for a dark valley I walked through as a parent. I had to drive to places and talk to people I hadn’t foreseen as part of my parenting path. Fear, humiliation, and disappointment tried to rile up the mad in me and tried to stifle my tears. But my tapping-into-tears lessons stayed with me; I cried into my pillow and cried during my prayer times.
I chose to trust God while our family walked through seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of troubles that tore into our hearts. And although I can’t share the details, it’s probably just as well because unspoken thorns in a parent’s side are more relatable to you if I don’t.
Fill in the blanks with your own moments of tragic phone calls and suspicious behaviors and you know the best thing to do as a Christian parent is to fall on your knees and pray for wisdom, power, and love to do the next thing.
God Provides for Praying Parents
God walked with me when I did the next thing. He placed people, books, and resources I never imagined existed into our lives so we survived a valley we would never have chosen if given a choice. But now that we’ve walked through even more valleys, I can say my trust muscles are stronger than ever, and anger is mostly a distant memory because I remembered to tap into tears.
Valleys are part of being an imperfect parent of imperfect offspring on an imperfect planet. But praying parents are powerful when they tap into tears.
I still tap the tear button because my parenting days aren’t over yet. But I’m at peace with it since I continue to trust my perfect Father.
Psalm 30:5 KJV reminds us: For his anger endureth but a moment; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
I’m nosy-to-know if you’ve mined the treasure of tapping into tears?
I’d like to close with a tanka poem:
raindrops on blossoms
pink primula petals shine
I mine each treasure
tears flow as heartfelt prayers
for God’s love never gives up
This is an edited edition of a blog post I shared in 2018. It’s no longer available elsewhere, so I decided to share it here. I hope it helps praying parents feel less alone. Since this is such a personal post, I chose images of my garden.
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
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