I have a tender heart.
It took years for me to understand that and allow it to be true.
Shortly after John and I were married, we took the Myers-Briggs personality test. I was an ESTJ, my husband an INFP. Complete and total opposites.
The third letter in each profile, T/F, represents a thinking versus a feeling person. I was so prideful back then of my "T", my thinking personality. I remember being proud that my head ruled my heart. And heaven forbid my heart might rule my head. Oh no. Not this girl. I was steely and cold...always in contol of my emotions...at all costs.
And then I had a child. And another. And another. And the girl I was began to soften and melt away. No longer could I control my emotions. When they'd rise to the surface, I was embarrassed and ashamed of them and did everything I knew to push them back down and bury them. My heart was softening, but I didn't like it one bit. To be honest, it scared me. And I didn't like losing control of something I'd had control of for so long.
Slowly and tenderly, God has been showing me that my tender heart is good. It is how He created me. And slowly, I've been releasing the need to keep my emotions and my tears buried. Relinquishing control.
I mentioned before that my kids laugh at me because I cry when I'm overwhelmed by beauty. Sometimes I see Pikes Peak in all her spendor and the only way I can respond is with tears. I cry when I'm hurt, I cry when I'm sad, when I'm happy, when I'm angry, when I'm thankful, I cry when my heart is breaking, and sometimes I cry when I'm afraid. I'm trying to get to the point that I'm okay with my tears...that it's okay for them to fall. Sometimes I'm much more comfortable with them than others.
I was at a retreat at my church about a year ago, and on that particular day, I was a mess. There were some things going on in my life that felt extremely weighty. The moment we began worship, my tears started falling. They didn't stop for most of the day either. It felt weird to be seen and exposed like that, but you know what happened? A couple of very good friends came and started praying for me. I couldn't even really tell them what was wrong or how to pray, but my tears led them to intercede for me. I apologized to one friend for my lack of emotional control, and she told me to stop being ridiculous...and then she told me that my tears were a beautiful offering of my heart...to her and to God. She gave me permission to fall apart and cry. I will never forget that either.
I'm trying to also teach my girls that it's okay to cry. That is how God made us...as females, we feel things deeply. Sadness, joy, hurt, heartache. And when we feel those things, crying is perfectly acceptable. One afternoon last spring, Abbey was watching The BFG (stands for Big, Friendly Giant) and at the end of the movie, the giant has to say good-bye to his friend, Sophie. I was in the kitchen doing something while listening to the movie. I peeked around the corner to see Abbey trying really hard to hold back her tears. When she saw me, the dam broke, the tears burst forth and she had a very good cry. She did it again a few weeks ago while listening to a song. It made her sad...and she had to cry about it. I LOVE that. She feels things deeply and is able to respond with emotion.
I had a friend once who told me that she hated for her kids to see her cry. I think a lot of moms feel that way, but I personally struggle a bit with that opinion. If our children (and especially our daughters) never see us cry when we're happy, sad, angry, joyful, at a loss for words, what do they learn from us? I think that they learn to squelch a part of the beautiful heart that God has given them. I think they learn to steel themselves, and learn to be tough instead of tender...and I believe that violates the very way that God created them. I think that when we allow our children to see our tears, it communicates tenderness and mercy and warmth and love, and reflects the face of God.