First comes the lump in my throat, then a little shortness of breath and then a tear starts and trickles down my cheek. I wipe it away with the back of my hand finding myself just a little breathless. I take in a big breath, let it out slowly, and I’m only left with my thoughts. The moment passes but the thoughts remain. I pray a short prayer and return to my normal controlled self.
Self-evident passion is a private matter to me. Recently I’ve found myself going through the actions outlined above more often. When I see pain or fear or sadness it has always moved me. Some describe it as heightened empathy; the willingness to feel what others feel or even walk a mile in their shoes. I wonder about the connection between passion and compassion? Are they two sides of the same coin?
I’m a big man and I’ve always been told that boys and men aren’t supposed to cry. At least that was a common understanding growing up. Showing emotion is a sign of weakness according to the perverse thinking of the ages. Yet King David seemed to wear his emotions on his sleeve writing a psalm about almost every key experience in his life. Anger and even rage are expected manly manifestations. Tears, compassion, and empathy? Not so much. However, I’m glad I can shed a tear. It helps me to identify what’s important in my life.
As this COVID-19 pandemic hits our town with a particular impact on the facilities housing the sick and the elderly, the stories and mounting deaths lead to that lump and what subsequently follows. I just read that 2500 senior facilities in the country are experiencing the pain of aches, fever, and death. I cry. Viewing the empty streets of New York and Los Angeles, let alone of Barcelona, Madrid and Milan brings that lump up again. I cry. Witnessing the stories spread on every TV channel and newspaper about the first responders struggling with family issues and then dying. I cry. This morning a news story of a nurse and single mom to 3 kids who is trying to juggle her teaching responsibilities for her kids and nursing the sick and dying produced the lump again. I cried.
Not all the tears are tears of sadness. I cry when a champion is crowned having overcome challenges. I cry for joy when a premature baby lives. The lump leaps into my throat every time I learn of a baby rescued from abortion. I tear up when I learn of a street person finding a new spiritual journey and rejoining society. Tears are part of the celebration when someone close to me makes a spiritual breakthrough. And I wet the collar of my shirt when one of our staff rises above their expected role and becomes more than they were.
Yes, I cry when someone attending our church reaches out to be baptized. When, as a congregation, we express unusual love and concern for those both hurting in our fellowship and for those who are outside of it. The thought of Jesus’ command to love our neighbor and seeing it carried out in unexpected ways brings a beautiful tear.
I must admit to choking up when I receive an unexpected affirmation from a friend or stranger. Knowing that Christ working through me is appreciated does make a difference. It affirms a deep passion for making a difference.
There are so many new experiences all around me. Simply being home more, initially, brought some apprehension. Now, it brings joy. I just remembered the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept” While he wept for Jerusalem, we too can cry for our country and our world. I want nothing more than for our President to succeed in leading well and I do get emotional the few times I see him acting, speaking or tweeting with either humility or compassion.
Judy and I just watched Mel Gibson’s movie of Christ’s last days, The Passion of the Christ. I cried as I watched the only too real depiction of Christ’s suffering. What is amazing is to fully realize that Jesus carried out the will of His Father. He wasn’t crucified by the Romans, he suffered for you and me and that is worth crying with thankfulness.
There are different kinds of tears as I’ve identified…. for me they are the physical manifestation of strong inner feelings. I am passionate about building the Kingdom, I’m passionate about those who are hurt or are hurting, I’m passionate about triumph and victory and I’m passionate about beauty and the visual arts. Last night on YouTube I found a site where there was one vocal rendition after another performed by world-class artists of the most beautiful songs. Visualizing “Standing on Your Shoulders” always brings a tear reflecting on the value of supportive relationships.
A few minutes ago, watching the evening news, they showed the fire department people parked outside a hospital applauding the doctors, nurses and other workers. The lump in my throat immediately showed up again. There is so much to appreciate.
Finally, I’m passionate about the life-transforming message of the Retirement Reformation. Encouraging the aging to know who they are, who they can become and finding their calling to play a unique role in building the Kingdom. What tears of joy this will bring when I can see the tipping point of changed thinking, lives transformed and the fruits of the spirit experienced.
It will be wonderful to know whether we can cry together. Comment here on what I’ve shared. I’d love to know how passion is evidenced in your life. My tears keep me grounded and my tears demonstrate that I’m fully alive. I am alive in Christ and for that, I’m tearfully grateful.
As we travel together staying faithful for a lifetime.