Of all sports related movies, I like baseball ones best. And of the many baseball movies, my favorite is “A League of Their Own.” On the remote chance that you haven’t seen it, the movie centers around the formation of a women’s professional baseball league during WWII to keep the sport alive while so many male players were being called up to serve in the military. Tom Hanks plays the coach of one of the teams. In an oft-quoted scene, he yells at one of the women for a bobbled play and she begins to cry. The coach is astonished and appalled and says to her, “There’s no crying in baseball!”.
I believe men and women are wired differently when it comes to emotions. Not that we don’t all feel the same emotions, from love to anger to sadness to embarrassment . . . the whole gamut. We all experience the same emotions, but our genetics and our upbringing tend to make us respond to and express our emotions differently.
I have seen my husband cry and express devasted sorrow. But, like most men in our culture, he was raised to be strong and comforting. For him to cry, especially in front of others, the occasion has to be deeply moving. I know he wept a lot, and often, after our daughter died, but he generally did it alone.
Women get comfort from shared emotions. My dear friends are not at all embarrassed when one of us cries or gets choked up, even if we are at the movies or at dinner together. Part of our love for each other is understanding how each of us “ticks” and what sets off tears. Crying can be just as much a blesséd release as a hearty laugh can.
My husband doesn’t get it.
Recently a childhood friend sent me a package of pictures. Her mother and mine were best friends growing up. They lived in the same small town their whole lives. They were in each other’s wedding, were “second moms” to each other’s children, and doted over each other’s grandchildren. My sweet mama went to heaven 27 years ago at the relatively young age of 62. My friend’s mom is still alive at 89, but suffers from dementia. One of her favorite things to do is look at old photo albums. She knows who is in the pictures and reminisces over the events chronicled in black and white.
There were duplicates of many of the pictures, and my friend sent me several with a letter repeating her mother’s stories. Most of the pictures featured our mothers and their friends at various adventures.
My husband came into the living room while I was reading the letter with tears rolling down my cheeks. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” I showed him the pictures and the letter. He wanted to know why my friend would send me something that would make me cry. Why would she want to make me sad? Despite my assurances that I was happy to receive the package and that I was okay, he could not reconcile my words and my tears.
Crying is cathartic. We are made to express our emotions. If shedding tears were wrong, why would God collect every one of our tears and keep them in a bottle? Our feelings are precious to Him. He cares about us so much that every single tear is a gem for Him to keep.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.Psalm 56:8
So, cry if you need to, sweet grieving mama. When you are looking at pictures of your beloved child and remembering beautiful times together. When you are having a heartfelt chat with a dear friend. When you are watching an old movie about a female sports team. There may not be any crying in baseball, but if there were, rest assured God would collect those tears, too.
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