On the mind of the Rev. Canon Deacon Denise LaVetty

Apr 26, 2024

I’m not crying, you’re crying…Oh wait! I’m crying.

Dear Friends,

What is it about crying? What is it about that surprising, out of nowhere, uncontrollable, embarrassing visit from the Holy Spirit? When I’m with people who are going through tough times and are crying, I assure them that tears are just the Holy Spirit giving us release. And I do believe that. I’m also pretty sure this occurs to make room for more stuff to cry about.

My sister Kathy’s favorite song was “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (The Four Seasons). As kids, we would ridicule one another for crying, calling each other “crybaby” and so when “Big Girls Don’t Cry” became a hit, well it was a good song for us.

In my human resources career, I did a lot of employee counseling and would often urge women not to cry in the workplace. Women had too many other obstacles to success and tears looked like weakness and we didn’t need any more of that! Workplace tears were for ladies room stalls and walks around the block. If a female employee cried in my office I would close the door and I would let them stay as long as it took to compose themselves and head back out to face the world, makeup ruined but fresh tears held in their proper place, stinging unshed behind the eyes.

I worked in financial services and investment firms for around 30 years, tough environments, and some really horrible work climates and some just plain unfair treatment. I didn’t cry once.

I’m no longer in that world, I work in a kinder, gentler, and caring environment now. But last week I cried at work. That Holy Spirit, she got me good!

A perfect storm in a stressful week, my commute was a tense almost two hours, a security guard was rude to me, and then a co-worker told me I had hurt her feelings. THAT put me over the edge! I think I just couldn’t stand that I added even one small drop of wound to this already bleeding-from-the-gut world.

Well, I began leaking* from the eyes, and while I don’t think it was a full-out ugly cry, it could not have been a good look for me. And it was hard to stop. 30 years in corporate America, a perfect no-cry record, and now this.

I know it feels great to laugh with others, but crying? I’ve often wondered, all the times I’ve cried alone, if those tears were wasted because they weren’t shared, weren’t witnessed.

Some say the most profound passage in Scripture is just two words “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). His tears were shared.

I thought about all the incredibly valid reasons to cry every day and wondered why I don’t do it more often. Our world is full of people either crying or holding in the cry. Sometimes I feel so sad about what’s going on in our world that I can’t cry about it, I just tighten up (how about you?) and I feel like I’m cold or unfeeling because I can’t seem to just let go and cry about it.

And then I have a bad morning, and I’m a mess. Yeah, it all sneaks out of you when you least expect it. I’m now thinking that whenever I can cry, I’ll just do it.

We may all have times we feel so wounded by the world around us and by our own personal worlds, our scene so chaotic, so lacking in solutions. We may find ourselves struggling to hold it together, to put up a strong front, to not cry in front of anyone. And then, some small thing triggers us and our cover is blown.

I pray you don’t struggle or beat yourselves up when you lose a little control, but instead just lean into it, lean into your faith, let the Holy Spirit hold you a little.

I got through that day and by the time I got home, I had already texted a couple of friends and family “I cried at work today!”. I realized I was almost bragging about it.

I cried at work. So what! I may just do it again.

Canon Deacon Denise

*In an old TV Series “Third Rock from the Sun”, when the aliens saw a human cry, they assumed they were leaking!