I’ve admitted it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a crybaby. I cry at Hallmark commercials, when a friend writes something particularly nostalgic in an e-mail, when my daughter’s feelings get hurt, when other’s feelings get hurt, when I realize how much God loves us.
I just break down.
That’s OK though, there’s a lot of people who don’t cry and they are toughies and there are things that I admire about that, mostly that they can get through something important without a river of snot coming out of their noses. That’s good, especially when you’re in front of strangers.
But, sometimes it’s good when another person is crying to just let it all out yourself. Case in point, I remember the day I went to see my counselor shortly after my world crumbled apart, she cried with me. She saw the pain I was going through and she identified and she mourned with me.
I went to pick up Little A from school two weeks ago and it was the saddest sight: as I got closer to the jazzed fray of kids waiting to be picked up at the carpool cluster, I couldn’t find her at first–because she was hiding behind one of the portico pillars bawling her eyes out. I leaned over her and asked, “What’s wrong, sweetheart? Did you hurt yourself?” She shook her head and managed to get out “I–I–I didn’t get student of the month-AGAIN. Thi—-this was my last chance and I didn’t even get it.”
I put my arms around her and gave her a big squeeze and said into her ear, “I’m so sorry sweetheart. I know how much you wanted that.” It’s true, this is her second year in this school and she’s been trying so hard, getting all smiley faces on her progress reports, doing her assignments on time, but the truth is, the odds are tough. There’s about 22 kids in her class, and only nine chances a year to be student of the month. I’m not a mathematician, but factor in weather, her birthdate, the full moon and what she wore to school that day, I’m pretty sure her chances were a billion to one, well, that’s what it felt like, anyway.
We had to make a trip into the school office to drop something off and she continued to cry. We’re standing there, patiently waiting for an audience with Ms. Smith, and her little friend, Brian*, from class comes up to her and asks, “Why’re you crying?” Little A tries to explain through tears and hand gestures and finally, he looks up at me with his tender, big brown eyes, “Why’s she crying?” “Well, she missed student of the month and she’s wanted it for two years now and this month was her last chance for the year. Pretty rotten, eh?” Brian nods, his face falls and he tells me, “I’ve never been student of the month either.” And he puts his sweet 6-year-old arms around Little A, and embraces her, book bag and all. He holds her for a few seconds and then Little A pushes him away a bit, probably a little embarrassed about hugging a boy in front of her momma and Brian looks up at me, and he’s crying. And guess what? When I see him crying, I start crying and here we all are in the school office, three empathetic messes. Brian silently shuffles away and I call out “Thank you for the hug, Brian!” And Little A and I try to put on our big girl faces, as I offer ice cream as a consolation on our way across the crosswalk.
Sidenote: She also got a scraped knee and a hole in her jeans that day, things just weren’t going her way…but somehow, ice cream helped us both cope with the disappointment.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than having a friend empathize with you, hold you close and agree, “Yep, this is about the most rotten day/season you could have and I completely understand.” I can’t tell you how much that reaction that has helped me over the last few years and it makes me think of this verse: II Corinthians 1: 3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
God takes what we’ve been through, those sometimes terrible and seemingly endless winters of our lives and turns them into sweet things–the spring of being able to hold someone close or lend a listening ear or just be with them. It’s about the best gift you can give.