I am known by my family and most friends for being a “cry baby.” I tear up during baptisms, weddings, funerals, and half of the sermons I hear. I cry when someone comes forward during the invitation song even if he/she is a total stranger. (It sounds like I can’t make it through a Sunday without completely losing it.) I cry in movies—even bad ones—and commercials where soldiers come home from fighting overseas. In most any case, if I see someone tearing up, I just can’t hold back from joining in.
The thing that really gets me even more than something sad is human kindness. At Kroger this week, I saw a college-age guy go out of his way to get an empty cart from an elderly lady so she wouldn’t have to roll it back to the cart corral. Sniff, sniff. Inside, I saw a middle-aged female shopper complimenting a mentally challenged teen who is bused to the store to practice real world skills like stocking shelves. The shy teen smiled up at her with so much pride. My eyes brimmed over at this small, unexpected gift.
At times, it’s embarrassing to have this disorder. I think it’s genetic. My mom is the exact same way. Surely we have over-productive tear ducts or something. There have been times when I’ve watched a movie with friends and I’ve destroyed the tiny theater napkins by wiping my nose and eyes just to see my friends looking back at me through dry eyes. “Are you made of stone?!” I want to scream. They just answer back, “Yeah, it was sad but you know…” In other words: “We’re in public, so stop with the snotty tears, would ya?”
I want to know their secret. How do they keep from crying when actors (in movies) or even real people (at church or over lunch) reveal their innermost sins and fears and struggles? How can you see that kind of suffering and not be utterly devastated by the inhumanities we have to deal with everyday? I’m not assuming that they don’t feel that anguish too. I would never equate the liquid volume of tears with sincerity and compassion. I just honestly want to know how they keep their emotions from pouring out of their faces. I don’t think I was designed with an “off” switch to keep it in check.
I was happy to see Bubba Watson, the newest champion of the PGA, unable to keep it together. In every interview since his win last weekend, he has broken down on camera. That’s got to be worse than just crying in front of your friends. I read one interview that quoted a sports psychologist who said Bubba’s tears may actually help him. She said that holding in these strong emotions could have “a negative impact on his game.” Well, I don’t know much about golf but I’m an expert in crying. (I did beat Brent at putt-putt that one time…there maybe something to it after all!)