Ordinary Tears

Amy Clemens

Read: Psalm 6

I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears. (v. 6)

Where did the idea come from that tears are not allowed—or saved only for days of incomprehensible loss and tragedy? Most of us could probably trace the story of how it became our norm to swallow them, to tuck the heart and its somehow unacceptable bleeding away from view. For almost 30 years I didn’t cry, save hitting my thumb with a hammer or its equivalent, and there was a physical price to be paid for it. As my sister-in-law, a career public health nurse, observed, the body weeps the tears the eyes won’t.

The psalmist David claimed, “Every night I flood my bed with tears.” This was David—a man’s man, a warrior even as a boy, destined to be a king, and a man after God’s heart. Yet he felt what another psalmist wrote, “My tears have been my food day and night” (Ps. 42:3).

There is enormous middle ground between where most of us live and the biblical record. Sometimes we need to weep. David cries out to God in Psalm 6, “I am languishing . . . my bones are troubled . . . my soul also is greatly troubled” (vv. 2-3). Can we give ourselves and each other permission to admit our humanness, even when we know weeping will someday cease? David always seemed more hopeful after he allowed the tears to fall. That’s been my experience too. —Amy Clemens

As you pray, ask for transparency and integrity in your emotions. Ask for the tears and the hope of David.