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Mans Don't Cry

October 21, 2016

Here's a repost of a piece I still feel so strongly about, published originally on Quiet Anthem in 2012. 


There’s a trivia question that asks which sentence in the Bible is the shortest:


“Jesus wept.”


It’s a two-word answer that Christians enjoy pontificating over: Did Jesus weep because his friend Lazarus had died and He wasn’t there to stop it? Or did Jesus cry because no one there seemed to understand that because He was officially on the scene, change could occur?


For the record, Lazarus did die because Jesus wasn’t there to stop it, but once Jesus came on the scene, an impressive change occurred: Lazarus—all mummied up and shut away in a tomb—walked out of his grave.  


There is, of course, a third possible answer: Jesus cried because his friends Mary and Martha were heartbroken over their brother Lazarus’ death.


Jesus’ compassion was the impetus behind the resurrection.



My husband Greg, unlike me, is not a habitual crier. When he cries, it’s usually because in the background there is Beethoven, with a melody that has induced tears, catharsis, from somewhere within.  


Over the past ten years of my knowing Greg, his tears have been few but significant: Greg wept when we watched The Silent Scream together shortly before our oldest daughter Ariel was conceived; he cries when he receives grace—from others or from his God.


So, a few afternoons ago, while Greg was listening to Carl Orff's "In Trutina," he left the room and returned red-eyed. I asked him the matter, but he shook his head as if he didn’t know.


I thought about the week, how Greg had started a minimum-wage job and was working to keep us afloat, how we had spent an entire day delivering resumes together as a family before closing the afternoon out at the park—where the girls ran wild from the swings to the slides, unfazed by our family’s financial pressure.


When I asked him again later as we sat across from each other in the living room—he on the chair; I on the couch—his eyes filled with tears and he wiped them quickly. Ariel looked up at him and then looked over to me.


Just the day before, upon my having received more disappointing news, Ariel rushed across the room to hug me as I cried again. She patted my arm and stroked my hair. She cupped my face in her tiny 3-year-old hands and looked me in the eyes, just like I do for her whenever she’s sad.


Ariel ran to Greg, lunged into his lap and said, “Daddy, mans don’t cry.”


Through his tears, Greg smiled.



The first and only time I saw my father cry was when I was 15. It was April in Arizona, without wind under a cloudless sky, the day I told my parents the secret I’d been safekeeping since I was three: one of our family members had been molesting me.


Late that night, after my dad had asked me the questions and made the phone calls, after he had checked on me to see that I was asleep, I heard him from across the hall, his face pressed into a pillow as he wept.


At first the sound of it scared me. If my father cried it meant that the matter was too much for him. But then it occurred to me that my father’s tears were renewing my confidence: Each sob affirmed my story, my pain, my eventual overcoming. 



My father, on a glassy April day, and my husband, on an arid October day twenty years later, remind me that we weep when we feel lost under the knowledge that we are powerless to control a situation we had hoped to turn out differently.


And I think Jesus knew this, too, as He wept. 


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