I Will Cry If I Want To!
“Listen to this! Laments coming out of Ramah, wild and bitter weeping. It’s Rachel weeping for her children, Rachel refusing all solace. Her children are gone, gone—long gone into exile.”
But God says, “Stop your incessant weeping, hold back your tears.” – Jeremiah 31:15–17a (MSG)
I’ve always appreciated Jeremiah’s prophetic role, how he struggled claiming it. However, in this text all I can hear are the cries of the mother, and Jeremiah indicating that God is telling her to be quiet, to stop crying.
When is it ever appropriate to tell a grieving mother to stop crying for the loss of her children? When is it ever appropriate to tell anyone experiencing pain to stop crying? Since when are tears an indication of a lack of faith or trust in God? When exactly did we become uncomfortable with tears?
When Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), there was no apology. There was no hiding of tears. There was no demanding that they stop. Only anguish released and deep pain expressed.
It is time to reclaim the healing power of weeping. All siblings have been given the gift of tears, and no one should be forced to stop crying because some see it as weak or it makes you uncomfortable.
Sometimes it takes the baptism of tears to even begin the process of healing. The continuous hot stream melting away our fears and softening our hardened, broken hearts. The release of pain, a sign of our common vulnerability and humanity.
Baby, this is my life, and I will cry if I want to! My living depends on it.
Loving God, I trust that you wipe every tear with tenderness. Not to stop us from crying, but to remind us that you hold us in your arms, and we do not cry alone. Help us to be this same loving presence to those that are weeping even now. Amen.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist freedom fighter gratefully (though not always gracefully) serving as executive director of A Just Harvest, Senior Pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a joyful contributor to The Words of Her Mouth.