No Crying In Basketball.

Jesus wept.  —John 11:35

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So…you foul out with :36 left on the clock.  Down by 5.  You watch, helpless, as it all slips away. This is the hardest you’ve worked in your life, and it’s come down to this:  A loss.

It’s enough to make you want to cry.

And so you look around the arena for your mother.  She’s sitting over there with your family.  As your bottom lip begins to tremble, you run across the court, climbing up into the stands, and you throw your arms around your mom.

As an astonished venue looks on, you let loose with a gut wrenching sob.  WAHHHHHH!!!  All the mental and physical exhaustion you’re feeling, plus the deep disappointment at not making it to the championship comes gushing out of you in great big torrents for all to see and hear.

Oh wait.  Scratch that.  That’s not right. That’s not how we do things. It’s perfectly acceptable for 15,000 fans to scream themselves hoarse rooting for a game, but to have one player show a few tears can somehow seem uncouth.  Even embarrassing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d be that guy burying my face in a towel.  I don’t want my anguish broadcast on TBS and around the world.  To me, painful emotions are private, intimate things.  But why?

Many people (especially men) have been raised to view showing sad emotions as a sign of weakness and a cause for embarrassment.  If you’ve sneakily brushed away tears after a sappy commercial, you may know what I’m talking about.  And I can’t tell you the number of people I see at a funeral, doing all they can to clamp down on those pesky feelings.

I wonder.  What would it take for you or I to come out of hiding and let our tears be a public statement of grief?  It would have to be for a very good reason, even more significant than losing a basketball game.

Well…it is Holy Week.  Kind of the epicenter of anguish for the Christian year.  What if we allowed ourselves to truly experience the depths of Holy Thursday or Good Friday?  What if we opened ourselves up to the brokenness of the world and the suffering of our savior?  Could we let it move us to tears?

All of our personal turning away from God.  All the pain of betrayal and denial and crucifixion and death and darkness.  Talk about a loss! This is no game–it’s the light of Christ snuffed out.  If there’s ever been a week for crying in public, isn’t this it?

Yes!  So here’s what you do.  You push your cart up and down the aisles of the grocery store, sniffing and blubbering. Every time someone asks you if you are alright, you say, “No.  Not this week,” and then tell them why.

Okay.  I’m dubious if any of us are going make that much of a scene, but I challenge you to feel something. If we can have our emotions stirred up by a basketball game, surely we can travel these last days of Lent, giving our whole hearts to Jesus.  There’s still time to discern, to reflect, and yes, to weep.  But know this…

in terms of days before Easter…

we’re down to the Final Four.

Have a Holy Week,

Mitch

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How To Help An Enigmatic Crier

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This is a picture of me crying.

There are three reasons I generally might cry:

  1.  I drink a lot of caffeine, and for some reason, when it wears off, I start yawning and tearing.
  2.  I’m now in allergy season, and my allergies give me watery eyes.
  3.  I’m sad.

Frequently I’ll have people asking me why I’m crying, and it’s admittedly a little embarrassing to have to explain why I’m tearing up.  (Usually 1 or 2)

I’m not the only enigmatic crier.

In John, chapter 11, we hear about the death of Lazarus.  Jesus arrives at the tomb several days late, and encounters a distraught Mary and Martha, as well as other Jews gathered there.   This is where we hear the shortest verse in the Bible:  “Jesus wept.”

But why was he crying?

Was it:

  1.  Because he missed Lazarus and was sorry he was dead.
  2.  Because he was sad at the lack of faith of the people gathered there.
  3.  Because he felt sorry for the grieving Mary and Martha.

People have made arguments for each possibility down through the ages.  Which one do you think?  My guess is #3, but there’s probably no way of knowing.  Just like me, Jesus has multiple reasons to shed tears.

And we’re not the only ones.  Crying isn’t always a straightforward activity. From time to time you will encounter someone who is sad or even tearing up and you may not know why.  What do you do?

You could:

  1. Politely ignore the tears and hope all is well
  2. Ask what’s wrong.

Those could both work.  My personal favorite, however, is…

3.  Hand them a tissue.

No matter the reason for the tears, passing a Kleenex seems to say “Whatever you’ve got going on, I care about you”.  It’s a direct, physical action that invites but doesn’t require further conversation.

I guess they didn’t have Kleenex in Jesus’ time, but if I’d been next to Lazarus’ grave when Jesus wept, I would like to think I would have offered him a sleeve to wipe his eyes on…

and maybe he’d have offered more than a two word explanation!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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