You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
I’m not a big crier. I don’t typically cry during movies or other situations when tears seem acceptable. At times, I’ve even wondered if my crier was broken. When my marriage broke, my tear faucet turned on full blast. I thought the well would never dry.
I sat across from my counselor one day, shamefully apologizing for the endless flow of tears. She kindly told me, “Andrea, no one has ever cried forever. Eventually, the tears will stop.” She had a way of speaking the truth while simultaneously validating my emotions.
Reflecting on my years of tears, here are five things I could not have survived without – along with tissues.
I’ve had a few counselors in my day. Several have been nothing short of miracle workers. Can I encourage you, if you are in a place where you could use a little help (and we all get there at times), to find a qualified professional counselor? The first few sessions can be vulnerable and more “get to know your story” oriented. It’s helpful to commit to a couple of months, at least. Evaluate changes and growth consistently. If you’ve experienced no benefits after a few months and have fully invested in the process, it might be time to search for another one. It’s okay to advocate for yourself in this way.
Having trustworthy friends, just a few, during my healing journey proved invaluable. I call them my taillight people because, well, my sister calls them that, and she was one of mine.
When navigating our path to healing, it feels like we’re driving in dense fog with dim headlights. Having taillight people who drive just ahead of us to lead the way is such a gift.
If you don’t have any of these, rest assured that Jesus is the best tail light person. You can ask him to lead you to a few real-life taillight people. He knows the value of trustworthy relationships, and he will do it.
Keeping a healthy and realistic perspective has served me well in times of sadness and grief. God has always been faithful to show me that, even when things are at my lowest, they could always be more complicated. He has reminded me over and over again that there is beauty, and some things are still good. Perspective has helped me maintain some semblance of gratitude even in the worst times.
Be mindful, however, not to confuse perspective with comparison. Perspective is an attitude or a point of view, a way of seeing through a different lens. Comparison is an act of saying one thing is like another, and in traumatic situations, it is incredibly hurtful.
Nature offers hope. Nature allows us the opportunity to experience the confounding abundance of God. Nature heals.
The sunrise offers hope in a new day full of potential and new mercies. Hope that there is at least a measure of meaning to the tears. Hope that God has all of this in His capable, creative, miracle-working hands.
Along with the hope of the sunrise, my soul craves being near water. Watching the flow of the water, the ripples created by the breeze, or wildlife touching down provides a sense of grounding. Water has a strength that is contagious. It’s been proven that being near water lowers our blood pressure and reduces anxiety. I personally know this to be true.
Staring at the water, soaking in the sunshine, sitting at the foot of a grand mountain, breathing in the breeze . . . these are very much “Be still and know that I am God” healing experiences.
When connection outside of ourselves is a much-needed lifeline, the words of others can serve as co-regulators. I remain careful to avoid anything potentially triggering or activating, which is most likely to occur on social media, especially around holidays or milestone events.
I often find solace in books (audiobooks are great for tear-filled eyes and chaotic brains) and blogs that offer a sense of peace and calm to my own flooded thoughts. On particularly tearful days, I listen to my favorite healing music playlist. I revisit a list of encouraging scriptures.
If you find yourself in a fire-hydrant season of tears, allow me to kindly remind you to take extra good care of yourself as you navigate these challenging days. Love yourself well.
Also, remember you won’t cry forever. No one has ever cried forever. But also remember . . . crying is okay.